(Image courtesy Isabel Leon for the City of Boston)
The South Boston Waterfront, once a barren landscape of parking lots and decaying industry, is being reborn as the Innovation District and one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods. The reminders of that evolution grew again Tuesday afternoon as city officials and developers broke ground on The Drew Company’s new Waterside Place development.
The $120 million, 350,000 square-foot, mixed-use development is the final piece of development filling in the intersection of D and Congress Streets.
“It’s so amazing to see how this landscape has changed,” said John Drew, founder of the Drew Company, which has been building in the Innovation District since the mid-80s.
The new 20-story structure, being built on land owned and leased to the Drew Company by Massport, will boast over 230 residential units consisting mainly of one and two-bedroom rental units, along with 10,000 square-feet of retail space, which will house a proposed pharmacy, 180 at-grade parking spaces, and 7,000 square-feet of flexible “innovation space”.
“This is one more piece of the puzzle,” said City Councilor Bill Linehan, who represents South Boston. “The vitality of the Waterfront is really taking off.”
Although many who attended Tuesday’s groundbreaking expressed excitement for the project and the additional residents and businesses it will bring to the neighborhood, many were awestruck with the explosion of development that has taken hold along the waterfront.
Drew, who developed the World Trade Center and Seaport Hotel, was characterized by many at the groundbreaking as the “Davy Crockett” of the South Boson Waterfront.
“He’s [John Drew] been here since 1985, he’s been a pioneer on this Waterfront when it was nothing more than a barren wasteland,” said Senator Jack Hart. “Maybe we will dub him king of the wild frontier with his brazen developments of the World Trade Center, the Seaport Hotel, and the east and west office towers.”
The project finally breaking ground is a major accomplishment since it was approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in 2007. After the collapse of the market and the recession, the project was delayed and the building was scaled back and broken into two phases.
The first phase, which includes the Waterside Place construction, is expected to be completed by the fall of 2013, creating according to the city, over 800 construction jobs.
“We’re not just putting up another building today. We are creating new homes for our residents, new jobs for our workers, and new space for our entrepreneurs,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said to the crowd.