by Rick Winterson
This article will attempt to summarize the frenetic pace of development in South Boston. It keys in on seven major individual developments, including those areas of South Boston being most intensively developed. South Boston Online encourages you to keep yourself up to date about what’s going on, via the Internet, public meetings, business articles, whatever – it is your hometown. Obviously, our Waterfront is the epicenter of major developments on the peninsula we all call South Boston. We have recently reported on the Grand Opening of Joe Fallon’s 100 Northern Avenue building (Online’s June 16 issue), the work-in-progress at the Eversource substation powering the Waterfront (August 11), and the General Electric Headquarters relocation (August 4). Were you aware that South Boston, with just 10% of Boston’s land area and only 5% of its population, received over 60% of the City’s building permits last year. And the pace of construction continues more intensely, if anything.. Two huge projects on the South Boston Waterfront are worth noting. John Hynes’ Seaport Square Project grows by leaps and bounds every day. It’s not all upscale residences and office buildings, either. In one of Seaport Square’s byways, a charming Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel is planned, with Romanesque/Medieval touches. Massport recently presented its initial design for their South Boston Waterfront Transportation Center (SBWTC) by Fennick /McCreedie on August 8. The Center features 1,600 parking slots (ah, the automobile) as well as being a nexus for public transport modest, bicycle transport, and transport by all the various methods of car hires – taxis, Uber, Lyft, ZipCar, and so on.
Perhaps the most newsworthy project coming to South Boston is the relocation of General Electric’s Headquarters from Fairfield, Connecticut, to our own Fort Point neighborhood. It’ll be sited at the northern end of the Procter & Gamble/Gillette parking lot along Necco Way. The proposed structure is impressive, preserving two existing brick buildings and adding an imposing vista to the Fort Point Channel. However, in a recent public meeting, many participants “pushed back” at GE’s “solar veil”, the height of its new building (12 stories) and the loss of structures like the “green bridge” between the existing Necco buildings. On the other hand, GE is submitting many “green” development plans, and is taking care to fit itself into the (amended) 100-Acre Master Plan developed by Fort Point people earlier in the century.
At the other end of the Waterfront, Redgate Development Advisors, led by its Principal Ralph Cox, held its first public meeting concerning the development of the site where the old Edison power plant sits. The site on the south side of the Reserved Channel at 700 Summer Street is now clear of asbestos and hydrocarbon residuals, and it can be built upon. Cox basically asked for public input prior to presenting a firm design for the site. That was an unusually open approach – so open that some attendees asked for a more detailed plan to discuss. The most interesting comment came from a woman who stated that whatever goes there should become a “gateway” to the residential areas of South Boston.
The Conley Terminal plans to expand, in part because ocean shipping is “green”, in part because the Panama Canal expansion is now open to post- Panamax, mage-container ships. As a neighborhood mitigation, the Terminal is putting in a half-mile, multi-use park along First Street named for one of South Boston’s angels, Tommy Butler. Stay tuned for more coverage on developments in South Boston.