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Developer files massive plans to remake Sullivan Square area

Thirteen acres of new housing and lab space would transform the industrial neighborhood that serves as the gateway to Boston from the north.

Rendering of a lab/office building to go up at 40 Roland St., Charlestown, in the "Inner Belt" phase of Rise Together's Sullivan Square projects. 9-23-21; BUSINESSRise Together

Boston developer Rise Together has officially begun the process of developing the 40 parcels it has accumulated in and around Sullivan Square in Charlestown during the past two years, projects that could dramatically reshape the largely industrial area that serves as a gateway to Boston from the north.

The firm has formally notified city officials of its plans for a 900,000-square-foot office and lab complex on Roland Street, west of Interstate 93 near the Somerville line, as part of an “Inner Belt” cluster that will mark the first phase of Rise Together’s Charlestown efforts. This phase also would include 160 apartments on Cambridge Street, the main drag through that area.


Rise Together doesn’t plan to stop there.

Cofounder Jim Grossmann — a former executive at construction giant Suffolk — said Rise Together is planning to build two apartment buildings, each with at least 225 rental units, and a 300,000-square-foot lab/office building clustered around Spice Street, next to the Sullivan Square exit off Interstate 93, on the other side of the highway from Roland Street. The developer also has its eyes on a third cluster, to be built around Mystic Avenue just north of Sullivan Square, which would include 450,000 square feet of labs and offices, and a boutique hotel with at least 150 rooms.

Together, the three clusters include about 13 acres, and will feature 1.7 million square feet of offices and labs across five buildings (including two in the Inner Belt cluster, and two in the Mystic cluster), as well as 850 apartments (including 170 income-restricted units), the hotel, and nearly 50,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. Trax Development of Newton is expected to be a minority investor in all three clusters.

Rise Together attorney Donald Wiest refers to the clusters as a “generational opportunity for job creation, housing production, and city making” in a letter filed Friday with the Boston Planning & Development Agency.


The Inner Belt parcels include buildings on Roland Street used by Boston Paper Board Corp. and Raybern Hardware — behind the Tavern at the End of the World pub — as well as several parcels on the other side of Cambridge Street where the apartments would go.

Rise Together started collecting these 40 parcels in the Sullivan Square area — mostly old industrial buildings and empty lots — soon after the development team was founded more than two years ago by Grossmann, Brian Anderson, and Herby Duverné. Anderson and Grossmann met while working on Martin J. Walsh’s campaign for mayor in 2013 and became friends, while Grossmann had worked with a security business run by Duverné.

A rendering of a proposed office and lab complex proposed for Roland Street in Charlestown.Rendering courtesy of Rise Together

Grossmann said the trio was attracted to Sullivan Square in part because it was identified as an area for potential growth in Walsh’s Boston 2030 plan, and because it had the infrastructure to support additional development, including an Orange Line station just minutes from downtown. Several other projects, including the redevelopment of the massive Hood Park complex, have launched in the area in recent years.

Grossmann said the three partners didn’t start buying up Charlestown properties with the intention of amassing a mini-empire in the area. But after they bought a property on Spice Street, word got around, and other families looking to sell their land gave them a call.

“We didn’t head there to assemble all these properties,” Grossmann said. “It was truly not this strategic plan that led to this. ... It was word of mouth [among] the sellers.”


Rise Together’s principals have shared their concepts with the BPDA and Charlestown residents in numerous meetings, Grossmann said, in part to integrate the work with the city-led “Plan: Charlestown” effort. The development firm also is working on a lab building on Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford and several midsized residential projects in Boston.

Rise Together already has flipped at least one of its Sullivan Square parcels: Grossmann said the developer has sold property at One Mystic Avenue to Fulcrum Global Investors, which is seeking city approvals to build a 29-story tower with nearly 700 residential units on the site next to the Sullivan Square T station.

Jon Chesto can be reached at Follow him @jonchesto.