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Old 08-18-2006, 07:01 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by The Globe
Banners fly as a new day draws near for Fan Pier

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | August 18, 2006

Fan Pier, used as a gravel parking lot for a couple of decades, finally gets some color this week.

Fallon Co., which purchased the long-languishing development site a year ago, yesterday began erecting banners and a billboard that will herald the start of construction of a mega-development, scheduled for next year.

``We're going to show everybody after 20 years it's real, it's here," said Fallon partner Richard L. Martini.

Fallon, the third owner in 20 years of the 21-acre site on the South Boston Waterfront, has so far planned a first phase of a $1 billion-plus development that will include four buildings along Northern Avenue. One building will be a five-star hotel and an undetermined number condominiums, a second building will have condos alone, and two will be office buildings.

The first building, with hotel, is scheduled to open in 2009.

The developers will erect two dozen colorful banners on poles around the site that will display ``Fan Pier -- It's Here" and ``World Class Boston" messages. The banners will be three to five feet wide and 20 to 30 feet tall. They will carry a new Fan Pier logo.

The Fan Pier branding campaign was created by the Charlestown marketing firm Kelley Habib John.

``There will be different images of what the site will be -- great office buildings, great restaurants," said Martini.

A large billboard also will address the future of Fan Pier. And later, the old chain-link fence around the lots will get a similar cosmetic treatment, to further dress up a dreary site.

``It's a vast area," Martini said. ``People who haven't followed it don't know what area it covers. This will start to give it a presence."

The filled land was once a railroad yard. Previous owners, including the late restaurateur Anthony Athanas of neighboring Pier 4, envisioned an entire neighborhood on the site. But either City Hall didn't like the plans, or when it did, the market moment had come and gone. Athanas lost the property to his then-partner, the Pritzker family, after a long ugly legal battle in the 1980s.

Fallon bought the land, fully permitted, from the Pritzkers and hopes to time the development so that the buildings open when both the residential and office markets are strong.

Boston developer Dean Stratouly said the marketing campaign might not help Fallon land commercial tenants, but it could build excitement among potential buyers of the residential units.

``You start laying some teasers out, start building some market awareness" with some signs, he said. ``It's building a brand, articulation of this vision, setting some expectations."

Fallon, with the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., paid $115 million for the property, including a large marina, last year, and now has architects working on various stages of the development.

Hill Glazier Architects of Palo Alto, Calif., is designing the hotel and residences, as well as a luxury condominium tower.

BBG of New York, which designed the Fallon-developed Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, which opened in June, will do a 500,000-square-foot office building on Fan Pier.

And Elkus | Manfredi Architects of Boston is designing a second, similar-size office building. The firm planned the overall Fan Pier site and will design about 300,000 square feet of retail space.

Fallon Co. will begin showing renderings of what the buildings will look like to the public late in the fall.

Another major development in the area is nearing completion: The Institute of Contemporary Art, positioned out on Fan Pier's marina, was scheduled to open in September, but that date has been pushed back at least until October. The museum is moving out of its far smaller space in the Back Bay.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at
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