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Old 06-30-2006, 07:23 AM   #1
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Fort Point

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Originally Posted by The Globe
A SoHo developer takes on Fort Point site

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | June 30, 2006

A New York development team that helped bring lively urban style to South Beach and SoHo won permission yesterday to tackle the redevelopment of historic brick warehouses in the heart of Boston's Fort Point Channel area.

Goldman Properties, in partnership with Archon Group, received approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority to turn a pair of mostly empty yellow-brick warehouse buildings on Summer Street into 88 luxury condos, including five glass penthouse residences on top.

Those two conversions are the first steps in an ambitious plan to convert 10 old Boston Wharf Co. buildings into hip housing for city dwellers, and turn the area around Summer and A streets into a lively district of sidewalk cafes, restaurants, galleries, and buildings decorated with colorful artwork and displays.

``I want to see entrepreneurial expression, risk-taking, and creativity" as the buildings are redeveloped, an animated Tony Goldman , chief executive of Goldman Properties, said as he walked briskly on a tour of the neighborhood.

Goldman has converted buildings in once rundown neighborhoods in Miami Beach, New York, and Philadelphia, and now he's turned his attention to Boston.

A year ago, the local office of Archon Group, a real estate unit of the financial firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc., paid about $92 million for 17 brick-and-beam buildings in the Fort Point Channel area that were once part of the historic, 80-building Boston Wharf Co. portfolio of warehouses.

``What we had here was a perfect Goldman opportunity," said John M. Matteson, regional director of acquisitions and management for Archon.

That 1.2 million square feet of buildings made up the last transaction in Boston Wharf's property liquidation, as the company closed the door on 150 years of shipping and storage business.

``These buildings have good bones," Goldman said in a recent interview.

It's already an area settled by artists, and Goldman wants to make the old Boston Wharf name synonymous with a district where people live, work, dine, and have fun -- inside, on roofs, on sidewalks, and in alleys.

He said he envisions movies shown on a screen supported between the backs of his buildings -- or perhaps against the side of a taller office tower to be built in a few years on the South Boston Waterfront end of Summer Street.

Ten of the buildings will be extensively renovated or expanded, in four phases. The other seven, commercial buildings, were previously modernized by Boston Wharf, are 85 percent occupied with paying tenants, and don't need immediate attention.

The developers intend to widen sidewalks and plant a variety of trees to enhance outdoor life.

``This is a great place in time," Goldman said. ``Right now you drive through and there's no respect. It's devoid. The streets need connectivity."

Goldman has hired ADD Inc., of Cambridge, to draw up a master plan. Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype Inc., which occupies space in 316 Summer St., designed the two buildings.

Construction will start this year on the 316 and 322 buildings. The Goldman group plans retail space on the first floor, with studios and one- to three-bedroom units on the upper floors, and glitzy penthouses above them.

``The pioneers will be without children," Goldman said. ``As it evolves, it'll be more conducive to families."

Mark Maloney , director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, said he likes Goldman's enthusiasm for the neighborhood.

``The thinking they're bringing to that area is to take preservation to its highest standard, and remake the public realm in a way that is more welcoming," Maloney said.

The Boston Wharf buildings Archon bought are more or less in the center of the old company's onetime empire. Other companies own surrounding former Boston Wharf buildings, and beyond those is the burgeoning South Boston Waterfront area.

``We believe this will be the ignition for the 500 acres around us," Goldman said.

Maloney said city officials want to ensure that wide Summer Street, stretching between Fort Point Channel and the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, is lively. ``If it's active and well-lit and comfortable, people will know they're in a decent environment. We hope they'll walk and wander."

But Maloney doesn't want to see the development overdone. ``I told them they're not going to turn it into Disneyland," he said.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at tpalmer@globe.com.
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Old 06-30-2006, 11:55 AM   #2
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Wow! Is Boston actually gonna get hip and exciting?

Actually, I like this idea. But I'm sure it won't come without a cost. This project will make this area even more expensive to live and more difficult for artists to afford. Yet, I can't help but feel sort of excited to watch the area transform.
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Old 06-30-2006, 12:57 PM   #3
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The article said the buildings were 'mostly empty'. I wonder if there are any artists that will be displaced.
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Old 06-30-2006, 01:10 PM   #4
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I used to live in a loft over there. It's basically illegal because it's zoned as commercial space. But some landlords turn a blind eye. My bet is that people who are living in commercial buildings will be driven out by price, if not by new development.
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Old 06-30-2006, 03:12 PM   #5
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re

This is exciting, the perfect thing to happen for this spot. Something like this will set the stage for the rest of the Waterfront area. The buildings are already built and ready for redevelopment so as crappy as anything else in the area will be that's new, there's already a preexisting street scape and set up that is ripe for the type of culture and atmosphere we want and need down there. Fort Point has an identity and that is something the "South Boston Waterfront", or whatever we're calling it, lacks. I'm just ecstatic the area is moving in this direction and another proud and different neighborhood may materialize in Boston.
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Old 06-30-2006, 10:33 PM   #6
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I'm really surprised this hasn't all happened already. For as hard as it is to build in or near downtown Boston, here are a bunch of potentially nice buildings already built. No nimby complaints about creating shadows! I went to a loft party around there- seemed like a perfect space for the artists living there. I'd enjoy living there too if I worked downtown or something. Regarding this proposal, I really like that they're having some fun with it- outdoor movies, rooftops, wide sidewalks, etc. And they're talking about attracting families instead of just the usual yuppies and empty nesters? What more could one ask for?
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Old 07-01-2006, 12:27 AM   #7
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I think I'm going to have see renderings of the plan before I can get excited about it. They should turn the Seaport into the entertainment district of Boston.
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Old 07-11-2006, 07:29 AM   #8
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Artists question city approval of Fort Point plan
Owners didn't give them new leases as promised, they say

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | July 11, 2006


Artists in 10 buildings in the Fort Point section of Boston that are slated to be redeveloped said the new owners have repeatedly failed to give them new leases or relocations to comparable space.

The artists, many of whom have worked in the area for years, said they were assured by Boston officials that they would get new leases before the owners received city approval to start work on two of the buildings.

But in late June, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved plans by Goldman Properties of New York and the Archon Group to renovate two buildings, 316 and 322 Summer St., the first of 10 in a portfolio of 17 properties Goldman and Archon bought from the old Boston Wharf Company.

The approval angered artists, many of whom had previously complained to the BRA about what they said was the unpleasant negotiating tone the developer used against them.

``We had heard the project would not be approved, because there was so much outcry" from artists wanting new leases first, said Claudia Ravaschiere, an artist who works at 63 Melcher St., and represents other artists in the Fort Point Arts Community group.

Now, without the leverage of an approval by a city agency, the artists are worried they have less power in their negotiations with the developers. Ravaschiere said about 20 leases covering 170 artists in all are involved, although some have moved out in anticipation of being displaced by the renovation work.

But Albert M. Price, managing director of Goldman Properties, said yesterday that one of the 20 leases in question is already signed, and his company has agreed to the terms the tenants wanted on the rest.

``We've been negotiating in good faith with" the Fort Point Artists Community ``for many, many months," he said. ``The BRA and mayor have made it very clear to us this is a priority, and we agree. We really want this neighborhood to remain a rich, creative neighborhood," he added.

Goldman, which has redeveloped urban buildings in New York's SoHo and in Florida's South Beach , plans to turn the two Summer Street buildings into 88 luxury condos, including five glass penthouse residences on top. Those conversions are the first steps in a plan to turn 10 of the brick-and-beam warehouses around Summer and A streets into a hip community of homes , restaurants, shops, and galleries.

But Ravaschiere said she and other artists have not seen most of the final lease documents to determine whether they are acceptable.

Some of the artists contend the developers will end up displacing the very people who made the Fort Point neighborhood a desirable address. ``Archon/Goldman are sorely mistaken if they believe they can move artists into generic spaces -- or worse, if they believe they can displace artists, build generic spaces, and then have artists to return and pay much higher rents!" Ken Pierce, a dancer and choreographer, and one of many local artists who wrote to the BRA in May to protest the timing of city approvals.

The BRA received more than 100 letters before it voted, many of them asking that approval be put off until some agreement had been reached with the artists -- and expressing unhappiness at the tone of dealings with the developers.

Tom Miller, the BRA's director of economic development, is the city's manager for the project. He said the city recognized there was a problem about six months ago, and, ``I jumped into the middle of the fray" to mediate .

But, Miller added, ``I never guaranteed I would hold up everything till everybody was satisfied. I said I would work with them to get a fair and honest deal. I thought we had agreed."

Miller said Archon/Goldman not only settled for a small rise in rents that he said were already low for the neighborhood but also agreed to lease extensions.
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Old 08-11-2006, 06:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Globe
BRA approves master plan for Fort Point Channel area

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | August 11, 2006

The Boston Redevelopment Authority yesterday largely cleared the way for the development of more than 11 acres of parks and buildings up to 180 feet tall in the reemerging Fort Point Channel area.

The unanimous approval of the Fort Point District 100 Acres Master Plan almost closes a chapter in a long and vigorous debate between City Hall planners and the community over how much density is appropriate for the area.

A final approval is still needed from the Boston Zoning Commission, and the board itself must approve designation of the land as a so-called planned development area, which gives the city flexibility in implementing the development guidelines .

Though many in the community applaud the outcome, some still fear the plan allows too much building.

There is also concern that the flexibility that the Boston Redevelopment Authority included in the plan will be exploited to allow more development later. For example, some buildings slated for 180 feet of maximum height could be taller, if developers provide more parks or other public benefits than they have already promised.

Four large landowners -- Gillette Co., US Postal Service, Archon Group, and Beacon Capital Partners LLC -- are covered by the rules approved yesterday, which applies to the area along the east side of the Fort Point Channel south of Summer Street. It is known as ``the hundred acres" but is actually about 89 acres in size.

Only one person spoke against the plan at yesterday's public hearing. Sarah D. Kelly, executive director of the nonprofit Boston Preservation Alliance, objected to approving the plan before the area was given protection as a historic district by the Boston Landmarks Commission. Designation as a landmark gives the commission authority to review future changes and protect a place's historic character.

Residents have urged the commission to designate the area as a landmark district for about five years and say City Hall has agreed in principle but has been slow to make that happen.

Kelly also criticized a provision that would make it easier for developers to add two floors of new construction atop the historic Boston Wharf Co. warehouses that dominate the area. ``The impact of such additions has not been sufficiently studied," she said, adding that they may detract from the area's historic appearance.

City planners advocating approval of the master plan for the area said those additions will be set back and barely visible from the street. They also said that, though the area still lacks landmark status, future development will be reviewed by the Boston Landmarks Commission anyway, under an agreement with the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Planners defend the plan by saying the private landowners will pay for the parks, streets, and utilities as they redevelop existing buildings and fill in the empty lots with buildings accommodating a variety of uses, ultimately creating a vibrant neighborhood.

Steve Hollinger, cofounder of the community group Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design, praised city planners for guaranteeing a large waterfront park, a connected park extending from the water deep into the newly designed district, and other green space. ``That was the highest priority" for most people who live in the area, he said.

But, Hollinger also said, the city's guidelines give developers authority to build ``too much bulk." Each future building or complex will require individual approval, and, ``We'll have to tackle it one project at a time," he said.

Richard McGuiness, deputy director of waterfront planning for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, said most people in the community are pleased by the city's latest guidelines, hammered out in more than 100 public meetings over five years, as well as through negotiations with the large land owners.

``There's not a large voice out there still saying reduce the density," said McGuiness, who argued that the remaining critics of the plan are few. ``What we're hearing from people is, `Now make it work.' "

The area is eventually expected to see almost 6 million square feet of development, though the current transportation grid can accommodate only about 4 million square feet, which is the amount the board yesterday approved.

At the request of the community, city planners have increased the amount of park land by 20 percent -- about a third of the entire ``hundred acres" will be open space -- and reduced the amount of building space by 10 percent. They also brought the maximum building height down from 280 feet to 180 feet.

About a third of the area is designated for residential use, including approximately 400 units at below-market prices.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at tpalmer@globe.com.
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Old 08-11-2006, 11:44 AM   #10
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"hammered out in more than 100 public meetings over five years, as well as through negotiations with the large land owners."

After all this time, all those meetings, some people are still ready to fight to preserve empty lots and boarded up buildings as the status quo! Plus, this doesn't even include the future meetings, plannings, hearings, etc. for each individual project or building proposed for the area. It's seems to be the cost of doing business in Boston (think Columbus Center, Fan Pier), and the result is the sky high cost of housing in the city. Granted, Boston, IMO, is one of the top 3 cities in this country, and credit has to be given to neighborhood groups making sure developers don't just take over and destroy, but there has to be a happy medium between the neighborhoods, the city, and the developers.
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Old 08-11-2006, 04:51 PM   #11
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Soho condo lofts coming to Southie...

The architect's project site for the 316/322 Sumner Street building projects mentioned in the first article of this thread...

http://www.bhplus.com/Portfolio/Defa...ortfolioID=107

Doesnt seem like the exteriors will change much....I was actually at this company for an interview and the interiors definitely looked like they could use some work...
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Old 09-15-2006, 08:32 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Globe
An old sign will light up a new district
Hip Fort Point project seeks touchstone to grittier past

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | September 15, 2006

The ruby-red Boston Wharf Co. sign near Fort Point Channel in Boston -- a beacon that could become as well known as the Citgo sign over Kenmore Square -- will light up next month, after being dark for about two decades.

The development company that bought many of the wharf company's brick warehouse buildings is restoring the 59-foot-wide neon sign, which says ``Boston Wharf Co. Industrial Real Estate," and will use it as a landmark for the neighborhood, which the company is trying to transform into a hip, urban district.

``It's time to turn on the lights again -- it's going to `brand' the district," said Tony Goldman, chief executive of Goldman Properties Co. of New York, one of the partners in the development company that owns 17 buildings on Summer and A streets.

Goldman's firm, which has done redevelopment work in New York's SoHo district and in the South Beach section of Miami Beach, hopes to bring some of the style of those trendy neighborhoods to Boston.

Besides building luxury condos, the developers intend to turn the area around Summer and A streets into a lively district with sidewalk cafes, restaurants, galleries, and buildings decorated with colorful artwork, banners, and displays.

The buildings' owner, Archon/Goldman, is a partnership of Goldman Properties and Archon Group, a real estate unit of the financial firm Goldman Sachs Group. Archon bought the last portfolio of properties from Boston Wharf Co. a little over a year ago, and brought Goldman in as codeveloper.

Archon/Goldman has completed complex relocation and releasing agreements with many of the artists and other residents in its buildings there. And the company is about to start renovating two buildings, at 316 and 322 Summer St.

Last night, the company was scheduled to present its vision for the district to community groups, using renderings that showed brightly renovated buildings and busy, inviting streetscapes.

For example, along its portion of Summer Street -- a wide and increasingly busy link between downtown and the burgeoning South Boston Waterfront -- the company's renderings depict a flower-filled, tree-lined boulevard, with colorful night lighting.

And Melcher Street, an alley-like way that has been torn up during much of the Big Dig era, is shown lit up, with a closed bridge between buildings topped by a new ``Boston Wharf Co." sign in red lighting.

``It's really all about the street," Goldman said in an interview yesterday. ``If you get the street where it needs to be, like a garden, it grows in a very healthy way."

Dark, gritty underpasses from the shipping, warehousing, and candy manufacturing past are shown brightly lit. Pastene Alley, off A Street, a place most people choose to sidestep, is envisioned as a burgeoning fruit market, its cobblestone paving restored.

Residents and visitors may have to guard against gaining weight if this future of the Fort Point Channel area is realized: Almost every scene and block in the renderings shows a caf? or restaurant, with outdoor seating and tables brimming with food.

Archon/Goldman may win friends in a neighborhood populated by artists fiercely protective of the area's authenticity. The company has promised to keep chain retailers -- even popular names such as Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks -- out of its extensive first- and second-floor retail spaces.

Instead, Goldman said he wants mom-and-pop establishments, which he called ``energy producers" -- shops that develop strong constituencies.

``The retail landscape, which does not exist right now -- that is probably the most significant contribution we will make," he said.

Above the storefronts will be renovated residential and commercial spaces, and new rooftop condo construction.

Boston Wharf Co., which created acres of land in Boston and once owned more than 80 buildings in the Fort Point Channel area, no longer exists, but its name lives on in the sign.

Other owners of the old Boston Wharf legacy are Gillette Co., Beacon Capital Partners LLC, and Berkeley Investments Inc.

But Archon/Goldman bought the Boston Wharf Co. name along with its buildings. And, in the modern concept of ``branding" products, Archon/Goldman hopes to revive the Boston Wharf name and make it synonymous with a lively urban neighborhood where people can live, work, and socialize.

The ``BWCo" medallions high on buildings will proliferate and become more visible, colorfully lit up at street level. ``We're going to reuse that as a driving logo throughout the district," Goldman said.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at tpalmer@globe.com.
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Old 09-15-2006, 04:23 PM   #13
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It's a good idea to use the name already there to brand the neighborhood. Not some joke name like "Fort Point Seaport South Boston Waterfront District" this time, I hope. Also, I really like the idea of lighting up the sign again, new landmarks are always a good thing.

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The company has promised to keep chain retailers -- even popular names such as Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks -- out of its extensive first- and second-floor retail spaces.
Thank god!! I was getting depressed after reading about those two malls planned further down the street.
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Old 09-15-2006, 04:55 PM   #14
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I'm glad that they noticed and appreciate the`BWCo" medallions. My guess is that this is the neighborhood that the rest of the waterfront residents on Fan Pier and Boston Harbor residences will actually go to to eat, socialize etc. The rest of the waterfront is such a tragic dreary antiseptic wasteland of uninspiring superblocks that this section of the Fort Point with its --all together now--narrow streets, small blocks, ground floor retail, will be the real draw. It will be the rich yuppies visiting the slightly-less rich yuppies.
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Old 09-15-2006, 05:39 PM   #15
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^ I think you're exactly right about this being the neighborhood that other Seaport-ers will be drawn to (and I think this developer is really savvy), though i disagree on one point: I think that this neighborhood will ultimately be the more expensive area, rather than the new buildings being put up on the waterfront.
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Old 09-15-2006, 10:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_Schmoe
My guess is that this is the neighborhood that the rest of the waterfront residents on Fan Pier and Boston Harbor residences will actually go to to eat, socialize etc. The rest of the waterfront is such a tragic dreary antiseptic wasteland of uninspiring superblocks that this section of the Fort Point with its --all together now--narrow streets, small blocks, ground floor retail, will be the real draw.
And to think, they could have just continued this pattern. The template was right there under their noses.
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Old 09-16-2006, 12:44 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ablarc
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_Schmoe
My guess is that this is the neighborhood that the rest of the waterfront residents on Fan Pier and Boston Harbor residences will actually go to to eat, socialize etc. The rest of the waterfront is such a tragic dreary antiseptic wasteland of uninspiring superblocks that this section of the Fort Point with its --all together now--narrow streets, small blocks, ground floor retail, will be the real draw.
And to think, they could have just continued this pattern. The template was right there under their noses.
That was exactly what I was thinking.
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Old 09-16-2006, 01:32 PM   #18
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That was exactly what I was thinking.
They can't see reality because they're blinded by theories. They think their theories are better, but reality mocks them.

The story of modern planning.
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Old 09-16-2006, 07:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ablarc
Quote:
Originally Posted by briv
That was exactly what I was thinking.
They can't see reality because they're blinded by theories. They think their theories are better, but reality mocks them.

The story of modern planning.
It's the story of modern architecture and modern architectural education. Everyone fell in love with Lecorbusier's poetic writing and stopped paying attention to the realities of the world around them. Ever since then theory has dominated, even in the name of function (which was a big lie swallowed by the profession given that buildings have ALWAYS been functional) when reality proved the theories to be nothing more than pretty words on paper and disasters in practice.
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:10 PM   #20
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Developer abandoning Fort Point district
By Scott Van Voorhis
Boston Herald Business Reporter
Thursday, September 21, 2006 - Updated: 07:38 AM EST


A grand plan to transform South Boston?s industrial Fort Point district into a trendy new neighborhood is taking a major hit, with a key Boston developer pulling out of the area.

Beacon Capital Partners is putting up for sale the development rights to its much touted Channel Center project, three years after the firm rolled out a sweeping vision for the area?s transformation.

Owned by the prominent Leventhal family, Beacon is hoping to find a buyer interested in building out or renovating more than 1 million square feet of office, residential and retail space.

The decision comes as Beacon pushes to sell the remaining units in the Channel Center luxury condo high-rise, which hit the market in spring 2003. A Channel Center artist live-work project, built by another developer, opened last year.

?The market is softening,? said Vivien Li, head of the Boston Harbor Association. ?It will take a number of years before we see this area right along the (Fort Point) Channel really take off in a big way.?

There were few such reservations when Beacon, along with top city officials like Mayor Thomas M. Menino, celebrated the start of construction of the project?s 89-unit live-work artists building back in July 2003.

The groundbreaking was seen as the start of a major transformation of a key stretch of turn-of-the-century Fort Point Channel warehouses. There were to be sidewalk cafes and galleries, gleaming new office buildings and more trendy luxury condos.

But most of the Beacon?s buildings in the area remain empty warehouses.

A pair of office midrises totaling more than 620,000 square feet never got off the ground. The same was true for Beacon?s plans to renovate nearly 300,000 square feet of Fort Point warehouses into trendy office space and building another 206,990 square feet of new condos or apartments.

The whole package could fetch between $25 million and $30 million, one real estate executive said.



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