Massport sees intense interest in Seaport property
Some of the biggest names in Boston's development sector are lining up for a piece of the Massachusetts Port Authority's Seaport empire.
Massport reported on Thursday that it received proposals from 12 developers for a 1.1-acre parcel the port authority owns on Congress Street next to the Silver Line's World Trade Center station.
Several bidders already have made their mark on the South Boston waterfront, including: Boston Global Investors, Davis Cos., Skanska USA, and WS Development. Redgate, another bidder, is pursuing a massive redevelopment of the old Boston Edison plant just under a mile away, and bidder Accordia Partners is co-led by Dick Galvin, a key player in the neighborhood.
Other Boston-based bidders include City Point Capital, Chiofaro Co., Leggat McCall Properties, and Longfellow Real Estate Partners. The remaining two bidders, Peebles Corp. and Lincoln Property Co., are out-of-state developers with a Boston presence.
"We would have been very happy with six proposals, but then we got 12," Massport chief executive Thomas Glynn said. "It's better than expected."
The proposals remain under wraps for now, although Massport designed its request to developers with an office building in mind. The port authority will weigh the financial elements of these pitches. Minority participation will be a key factor in the decision, like it was when the agency sought developers for a site across from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, now destined for an Omni hotel.
For the first time, the port authority is also giving points to developers for "public realm" improvements, such as art projects or performance areas, that they propose as part of their projects.
Glynn said he hopes his agency's staff can make a recommendation for a winner to the Massport board by September or October, although ground lease negotiations will probably continue well into 2019. Massport officials don't expect construction to be done before 2022, regardless of who secures the deal.
Brendan Carroll, director of intelligence at Perry Brokerage, said he expects the property could be perfect for another headquarters or a major satellite operation, based on the big corporate names that have set up shop nearby or are going to arrive soon.
Carroll said he was surprised by one developer's absence, and another's appearance. He expected the Fallon Co. might make a bid, considering its involvement in reshaping Fan Pier. And Carroll said he wouldn't have expected Chiofaro in the mix, given the fact that its signature project to build a tower at the Boston Harbor Garage site appears to be finally advancing.
Meanwhile, the port authority is preparing for a groundbreaking next Tuesday at the Omni hotel site, across from the convention center, where a 1,054-room hotel is planned. Site work has begun, and Massport officials hope the development team can finish the hotel by the fall of 2020.