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Construction begins on Portside at Pier One project on East Boston waterfront

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  January 25, 2013 01:37 PM

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Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com

A December 2011 photo shows the Portside at Pier One site before the re-start of construction. Pilings were sunk in the the site years before but abandoned in 2007 as financial markets dried up.

Construction has begun on Portside at Pier One, a long-delayed mixed-use development on the East Boston waterfront, the developer’s parent company announced Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Mack-Cali Realty Corporation confirmed that its Roseland subsidiary had begun work in December on the first phase of Portside, a $67 million luxury apartment complex. The five-story structure will include 150 market-rate and 26 affordable apartments.

The developer will host an official groundbreaking ceremony Monday, Jan. 28, at 12:30 p.m.

In the statement, Mitchell E. Hersh, president and chief executive officer of Mack-Cali, was upbeat about beginning construction again after a five-and-a-half-year delay.

“We are delighted to see this much-anticipated project get underway,” Hersh said in the statement. “The extraordinary public and residential aspects of this community, including an expanded marina and shipyard, world class waterfront park, and magnificent views of the downtown Boston skyline, will all combine to energize the East Boston Waterfront.”

If completed as planned, the Portside development will include about 566 luxury apartments and 70,000 square feet of ground-floor space for retail and public use. It is planned to include a parking garage, theater space, fitness center, business center, and concierge service.

The outdoor space would include landscaped public parkland and a recreational marina.

The developer has a 95-year lease on the 26 acres of Massport-owned land just outside Maverick Square, the statement said. The site lies between land set aside for a planned phase two of Piers Park and the site of the 400-unit Clippership Wharf project proposed by Arthur Winn and Roger Cassin.

The Portside development effort began in 2000 and took six years to complete the permitting process, according to previous Boston Globe reports. Roseland sank pilings into the ground to begin construction but halted work in 2007 as the economy began a dramatic downturn that would become a worldwide recession.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino declared the revitalization of the East Boston waterfront a priority for his administration in his annual speech before the Boston Chamber of Commerce in November 2011, specifically citing stalled development projects like this one as opportunities to spur growth.

“Economic uncertainly has stalled progress here. But I believe focus, collective action, and investment by the city can jump-start it,” Menino said.

In that speech, Menino outlined a plan to improve water transit to the neighborhood by building a new marine terminal near Maverick Square and said the Boston Redevelopment Authority would pursue the creation of an East Boston Waterfront Development District that would allow the city to invest in infrastructure improvements.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow East Boston on Twitter: @YourEastBoston.

Portside map.jpg

Google Maps

A map shows the location of the Portside at Pier One project, just outside Maverick Square and adjacent to the beginning of the East Boston Greenway.

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