Commuter rail expansion threatened by collapse of South Station land deal
A complex deal to redevelop the US Postal Service's massive facility in Boston and expand commuter rail service at neighboring South Station has fallen apart.
Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan announced today that the deal "will not move forward," which could significantly delay the MBTA's efforts to expand rail service to southeastern and central Massachusetts.
The Postal Service had planned to relocate to South Boston and hand over the mail-sorting facility to a private developer that was planning to build a large mixed-used complex on the 16-acre site. That redevelopment would have also cleared the way for the MBTA to acquire more land in the area to add tracks for expanded commuter rail service.
Mullan offered few details. Neither the Postal Service nor its designated developer, Jones Lang LaSalle, would comment. Other agencies involved were not immediately available for comment.
The move involved complex negotiations with the Massachusetts Port Authority and the Department of Defense, both of which owned pieces of the land on Summer Street where the Postal Service was planning to relocate.
When the Postal Service selected Jones Lang LaSalle as developer in April 2008, a spokesman said the property was "key" to the redevelopment of the Fort Point Channel waterfront district, one of the city of Boston's top targets for growth.
The collapsed deal now puts the MBTA's planned expansion of commuter rail service to the Framingham-Worcester and New Bedford--Fall River areas at risk. Mullen said South Station's current train platforms are too crowded, and the agency needs more tracks to increase service to these areas.