Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s administration is moving to give public funds to the developers of a luxury residential, office, and retail complex next to the TD Garden.
Boston officials on Thursday acknowledged that discussions are underway to provide a tax break or other subsidy to the massive Lovejoy Wharf complex. But even though the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved the project last month, and granted a designation to make it eligible for public funds, the Menino administration would not provide details on the type or amount of assistance under consideration.
Sports apparel maker Converse Inc. has signed a lease to make Lovejoy Wharf its corporate headquarters. The development will also include 100 luxury residences, a rehabilitated wharf with public docks along Boston Harbor, and stores.
The project’s developers, the Beal Cos. and Related Cos., declined to comment Thursday, as did a spokeswoman for Converse.
One person with knowledge of the project, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said that the negotiations have been underway for some time and that the city had rejected an earlier request for a kind of multiple-year tax break known as tax increment financing.
BRA spokeswoman Susan Elsbree said Lovejoy Wharf is not eligible for tax increment financing because “it does not meet the threshold of bringing net new jobs to the state.”
But the BRA designated the project as eligible for other financial assistance on Dec. 13. During the board’s meeting, BRA staffer Geoff Lewis explained that the city is planning to grant financial assistance to “assist with the extraordinary costs associated with some of the public realm improvements.”
Those improvements include replacing the wharf, building a visitors’ center, and adding to the city’s Harborwalk.
Public assistance for such projects reduces developers’ construction costs and may also translate into lower rents for tenants such as Converse. The sports apparel company, now based in North Andover, is owned by Nike Inc., which reported revenue of $24.1 billion in its last fiscal year.
The Lovejoy Wharf project would improve a blighted section of property between TD Garden and the North Washington Street bridge to Charlestown. In addition to the new wharf, the project will rehabilitate an existing nine-story building at 160 North Washington St. That building will house 187,000 square feet of office space for Converse and 45,000 square feet of retail space, including a 300-seat cafe-style restaurant.
The restored wharf will include floating docks, public water transportation facilities, and a 2,000-square-foot visitors’ center, adding a total of 42,000 square feet of new open space along the waterfront.
Casey Ross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.