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Project in works for South Boston warehouse cluster

Latest plan again combines retail, office, housing

If you live in South Boston, you’ve seen this story unfold many times in the last year alone.

A developer is proposing to redevelop a cluster of old warehouses and empty lots along Summer Street into a new office and residential complex that would also include a small amount of new retail space.

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This particular project, by the Archon Group, seeks to renovate and expand former warehouses at 319 A St. and 327/337 Summer St. It is part of a much bigger wave of building activity transforming a huge section between West Broadway and the Fort Point neighborhood, adding hundreds of homes, office buildings, and retail outlets.

“It’s all starting to come together,” said John Matteson of the Archon Group, one of the first major investors in Fort Point nearly a decade ago. “A lot of these properties were in disarray when we first acquired them, but we’ve been able to renovate them and maintain their historic character for the next 100 years.”

In 2005, Archon purchased a portfolio of 16 late-19th-century office buildings in the Fort Point Channel area for about $93 million. Over the years, it has renovated several of the buildings into offices, and sold them to other investors.

The project at A and Summer streets, now under review by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, seeks to connect and expand adjacent buildings at 327 and 337 Summer St. A two-story rooftop addition would be built on the buildings, as well as a horizontal addition to the east side of 337 Summer St., according to a recent filing with the BRA.

The filing includes an alternative plan to convert those buildings, now used as offices, into 92 new residences. But Matteson said his company intends to keep them as office space and is talking to potential tenants for the complex, which is now about 50 percent occupied.

The project also includes the conversion of the slender office building at 319 A St. into 18 two- and three-bedroom residences, with a new lobby and about 4,000 square feet of retail space. Matteson said he hopes to begin construction on the properties within the next six months.

That building at 319 A St. is situated next to a 21-story apartment building now under construction that will bring an additional 200 residences to the neighborhood.

Much of the area is now bustling with construction activity, ending a multiyear building slump during the economic downturn.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. is constructing a massive office complex at Fan Pier, and State Street Corp. is building a new tower in the Channel Center complex on A Street.

In addition, nine residential projects are under construction in the area between West Broadway and the Waterfront.

Together, those complexes will add nearly 1,000 residences to the area in the next two years.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.
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