Friday, April 15, 2011

LOCAL NEWS: Herald site development is resuming

National Development is shopping a new plan to redevelop the Boston Herald property in the South End, soliciting major retailers to anchor a complex that would also include dozens of residences, the company confirmed yesterday.

The Newton real estate firm struck a deal with Herald owner Pat Purcell in 2007 to jointly redevelop the 6.6-acre site off the Southeast Expressway, but because of the credit crisis and recession they are only now preparing to move forward.

TJX Cos., the Framingham discounter that runs HomeGoods, Marshalls, and T.J. Maxx, is among the merchants interested in the planned project, according to people briefed on the discussions. Whole Foods Market Inc. had considered opening a store in the complex but is no longer interested and has since said it is planning a super market in Jamaica Plain.

Ted Tye, managing partner with National Development, declined to discuss specific tenants, but said, “I can tell you it’s a mixed-use development with residential and retail. But we’re still working through the plans.’’ A prior version of the company’s proposal had included offices, but Tye said that component has been dropped due to reduced demand for office space in the wake of the recession.

Tye said he expects the firm will file its new building proposal with the Boston Redevelopment Authority later this year. National Development is a major developer of commercial real estate in the region and has built an number of retail, residential, and hotel projects. Among its developments are the Shops at Station Landing in Medford, and the Marriott Residence Inn in Charlestown.

A spokeswoman for the Herald yesterday said the newspaper has not set a moving date. After entering into the joint venture in 2007, Purcell outsourced the Herald’s printing operations to plants in Chicopee and Norwood, emptying out a large section of its building. Purcell could not be reached for comment.

TJX, which operates a T.J. Maxx and Marshalls in the nearby South Bay Plaza, declined comment on the Herald plan yesterday.

Commencement of construction would be a major step forward in the city’s efforts to revitalize an industrial section of the South End between Harrison Avenue and Albany Street. Boston officials are already working with property owners in the neighborhood over possible zoning changes, transportation improvements, and other measures that would help accommodate new development there.

BH Normandy, another developer from Newton, has proposed building a 265,000-square-foot hotel and parking garage nearby on Albany Street, and an an office tower at 1000 Washington St. is under renovation.

The project at the Herald site would need to get approvals from the BRA and other agencies before construction could begin. A BRA spokeswoman said the authority would not comment until it sees a formal proposal for the site.

Casey Ross Boston Globe April 1, 2011

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