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Hynes, Morgan Stanley buy 23 acres of Boston waterfront

Deal worth more than $200 million

South Boston property
Boston developer John B. Hynes III teamed up with finance company Morgan Stanley to buy 23 acres of South Boston property today. (Evan Richman / Globe File Photo)

Boston developer John B. Hynes III and the financial services company Morgan Stanley today bought 23 acres of South Boston Waterfront land from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for a little over $200 million.

The deal for the prominent but undeveloped land formerly owned by Frank H. McCourt Jr. was completed rapidly -- Hynes said the parties "sprinted to the finish line" -- only about a month after it was first reported that Hynes and his partner were negotiating with News Corp.

Hynes confirmed the deal had closed today, and an official announcement was expected later today.

News Corp. acquired the land from McCourt this year, the final transaction in McCourt's purchase two years ago of the Los Angeles Dodgers major league baseball team and substantial real estate that went along with the team and Dodger Stadium. News Corp. said in June it wanted to sell or find a development partner for the site.

Hynes, president and chief executive of Gale International, successfully developed One Lincoln Street in Boston, now the headquarters of State Street Corp. Hynes also is a partner with the real estate firm Vornado, based in New York, to redevelop the historic Filene's block in Boston.

While the South Boston Waterfront, including about 24 acres owned by McCourt, has remained empty and been used largely for parking cars for a couple of decades, the area now seems to be rising from the launching pad. Developer Joseph F. Fallon bought 21-acre Fan Pier, on the water adjacent to the News Corp. land, a year ago and plans to start the first of nine buildings on that site next year.

The Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, a headquarters in for the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, opened in June, and Fallon's two residential buildings are nearly completed, with a Marriott Renaissance hotel scheduled to open in the same block late in 2007.

LTK, or Legal Test Kitchen, a restaurant with high-tech features like iPod music docking stations at individual tables, owned by Legal Sea Foods chief executive Roger Berkowitz, opened this summer. It has been regularly crowded in an area that for years has been unpopulated after 6 p.m. and criticized as having a dearth of places for people to congregate.

Hynes, on his way to play golf after what he said was a grueling week of final negotiations on the sale, said development on the McCourt site is expected to be more than six millions square feet -- or at least double what is permitted and planned on Fan Pier. It will include residences, office space, and a substantial amount of retail and hotel use -- in roughly one-third amounts of each.

In the complex arrangement with Morgan Stanley, Hynes, who initially owns about 10 percent of the project, could increase his share if the project is particularly successful. He said he hopes to have permits with the city and state secured within two years and begin with a first phase of about two million square feet of development, of various uses, immediately after the plan is approved.

The whole 23 acres could be completed in about a decade, if market conditions are right, Hynes said.

Pop-up GLOBE GRAPHIC: McCourt land in South Boston
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