(Photo by Isabel Leon/City of Boston)
South End residents, city officials, and Boston Herald employees past and present gathered at the former Herald building Thursday to mark the beginning of construction that will turn the empty site into a vibrant neighborhood block.
“What we’ve set out to do here is really do something that really captures the whole feeling of the South End. …To us that means the people, the music, the arts, the food of this neighborhood” Ted Tye, managing partner of National Development, the development firm behind the project known as the Ink Block. “We’re really tying to move the center of gravity of the South End here to the Ink Block.”
The Ink Block, at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Traveler Street, will house 475 residential units—including 41 affordable housing units--in five buildings and 85,000 square feet of retail space.
A 50,000-square-foot chunk of that retail space will belong to Whole Foods Market, the first full-sized grocery store in the South End.
Tye said the Ink Block will produce a vibrant, active area 18 hours a day and hoped it would as a catalyst for development in the surrounding area.
“Much like the Innovation District across the highway, Ink Block is poised to become a hallmark project in an area that will certainly benefit from future development in the Harrison-Albany corridor,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
Menino praised the project as one that will create a vibrant community and bring housing, jobs, and businesses to the neighborhood.
“The South End deserves this type of development,” he said.
Phase one of the project is a $200 million mixed use project that will create 315 rental housing units in three buildings. Phase two, expected to start in late 2013, will add 160 more housing units. The project is expected to be complete in early 2015. It will create about 400 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs.
Several employees collected bricks from the building set aside as mementos. The letters ‘B’ and ‘H’ from the building’s “Boston Herald” sign have also been refurbished and will be hung in the new development.
Longtime Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald shared fond memories of his time in the building.
“It all happened here right behind me in that building that’s going to exist only in memory by the weekend,” said Fitzgerald.
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