Saturday, July 26, 2008

Commonwealth Ventures Considering Saving 5 Channel Center

Hub developer will now save two Fort Point warehouses
By Scott Van Voorhis | Friday, July 25, 2008

A developer with grand plans for redeveloping a key swath of the Fort Point Channel neighborhood is now looking at renovating, rather than tearing down, a pair of the area’s signature Victorian-era warehouse buildings.

Richard Galvin, president of Commonwealth Ventures, said yesterday he is exploring plans to redevelop a 200,000-square-foot complex of early-1900s warehouse buildings at 5 Channel Center. Galvin, who is now in discussions with City Hall and neighborhood groups, is looking at putting as many as 130 rental units in the buildings.

“We decided let’s try and keep these buildings,” Galvin said. “I believe it’s more in keeping with the historic character of the site.”

The move represents a significant shift from plans laid out for the area by its previous developer, Beacon Capital Partners. The deep-pocketed Hub real estate firm, owned by the Leventhal family, in 2001 unveiled plans for a sweeping redevelopment of a block of old Fort Point warehouse buildings on what was then Midway Street.

While Beacon planned to preserve a number of the buildings, it also had ambitious plans for hundreds of new luxury condos.

It had lined up permits to tear down the buildings at 5 Channel Center as part of a second phase of condo construction, but wound up selling the project first.

Commonwealth Ventures, which took over the project last year during a downturn in the real estate market, has taken a different approach.

Instead of expensive condos, it is now looking at more modestly priced rentals that might provide a less expensive alternative to young professionals looking for a place in the city.

Commonwealth Ventures’ plans have gone over well in Fort Point, an up-and-coming residential enclave that features the region’s largest artists’ community.

“If we can just preserve as many of the buildings as possible, that is a wonderful thing,” said Becky Dwyer, a longtime Fort Point resident and artist.
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