Sunday, November 18, 2007

FPNA in the Boston Biz Journal

Our own Cam Sawzin was quoted in a recently Boston Business Journal article about the development of the neigborhood (many thanks to Linda for typing this in):

Fort Point Channel residents await their neighborhood
This is Real Estate Roundup by Michelle Hillman

"Residents of the Fort Point Channel are worried that their lively cultural district will turn into a boring, 9-5 environment full of office buildings and little else. The fears are becoming a reality as more property owners consider building office space rather than residential units.

The highly visible Gillette manufacturing facility has been part of the Fort Point scenery for years. But now, it's getting company. The U.S. Postal Service has announced plans to move its facility deeper into Fort Point, to a 25-acre parcel near the Greater Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The Postal Services' move from its current Summer Street location will free up 16 acres of prime channel real estate for development.

The FBI is weighing a move to a D Street facility owned by Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. If the FBI decides to move its headquarters to the D Street building, Intercontinental's plans for 585 residential units on the site will go out the window.

Another large and previously approved project, called Channel Center, was acquired earlier this year by Commonwealth Ventures LLC. At the time the Connecticut development firm stated in a published report it would redevelop a portion of the 16-building portfolio into 280,000 SF of office space. Nearby on Summer, Melcher and A streets, the Archon Group LP has made little progress in developing the portfolio of wharf buildings it purchased in 2005 into residential. In fact, the developer has said it is waiting for the market to cooperate before moving ahead with the plan to build 87 units at 316-322 Summer St.

To some residents' dismay, the rejuvenation of the old industrial and warehouse neighborhood hasn't taken hold. Developers instead are allowing market forces to dictate what gets built.

"We just want to make sure, now that the residential market has softened, that we don't find ourselves surrounded by office buildings, "said Cameron Sawzin, a resident and member of the Fort Point Neighborhood Association.

Sawzin said she's by no means anti-development. In fact, she views many of the changes that have occurred -- the addition of restaurants and retail -- as exciting. But she is concerned that the promise to create a 24-7 environment with a mix of uses could be in danger.

"We just want to make sure that the mix that was promised to us is kept the same," said Sawzin.

Sawzin and the Fort Point Neighborhood Association want to protect the historical character of the neighborhood and keep it an artists community, not a place with "50 Cheesecake Factories and The Gap": She's not alone.

"There is a real pressure from market forces to dictate what the outcome is in the Fort Point area", said Steve Hollinger, co-founder of another neighborhood group, the Seaport Alliance for Neighborhood Design.

Hollinger said he fears the Fort Point Channel may never become a dense urban environment as planned. He said the Fort Point Channel has always been seen as a back-office location for Financial District tenants but he said he doesn't believe the market should dictate what gets built, because "what happens in Fort Point ripples and has an effect on the Seaport District. The goal is to have a really lively Seaport, a really lively waterfront. I won't say I'm disappointed, but we definitely could be doing a lot better.""

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:56 AM

    I am a new resident of the Channel Center and just moved to the area in Aug. of 2007. I was incredibly disappointed to find that a space that was designated for a Restaurant located at 35 Channel Center is now home to an architectural firm, Wow.... Nice Move?

    A good example of a detraction from our neighborhood, a space that could have sparked that semblance of a neighborhood that most of us are looking forward to is now another office with ugly lighting and more transient office staff, and continues that Movement of commercial uses. We need restaurants, shops, Galleries, ex. the types of establishments that support a thriving neighborhood.

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