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Fenway Center to move forward

Globe staff


Fenway Center to move forward

Fourteen years after he began planning a major development in the air over the Massachusetts Turnpike at Kenmore Square, developer John Rosenthal says he is finally ready to start work. Construction would commence with the part of the project that would sit on firm ground. On Wednesday, Rosenthal and his development partners said that they have raised $230 million in financing and expect to soon begin construction of two apartment buildings on parking lots near Fenway Park. That would be the first phase of the long-delayed Fenway Center, a nearly $600 million complex that will include three other structures over the turnpike between Beacon Street and Brookline Avenue, including a 27-story tower. The project has long promised to accelerate the transformation of Kenmore Square. But for more than a decade it has struggled, largely because of the cost of constructing a massive deck over one of the busiest highways in Boston, as well as over a commuter rail line. So Rosenthal and the Portland, Ore.-based development firm Gerding Edlen are breaking it in two. Part one will be the apartment buildings — 313 units in all — on the corner of Beacon and Maitland streets. Rosenthal was adamant that he will still build the more difficult part over the turnpike. But splitting such a large endeavor into two is a way to make that happen, he said. The plan hinges on state officials letting Rosenthal change course. — TIM LOGAN


Haunted show proposed for Castle Island

To most Castle Island fans, the seaside park is a tranquil oasis to while away the hours, snacking on Sullivan’s hot dogs or watching the powerboats speed across the water. But to one imaginative entrepreneur, the old fort’s granite walls are the perfect place to scare the daylights out of thousands of visitors by turning this normally quiet outpost into a “Spooky World”-style freak show, with full-fledged zombie attacks, this fall. The prospects of handing over a beloved landmark to a for-profit venture known as Fright Island has sent chills through many longtime residents of South Boston. Amid the standard trepidation about traffic and public safety, there’s a deeper fear: Fright Island’s critics worry the family-friendly South Boston they cherish is under siege as younger professionals flock to the neighborhood, and handing Castle Island over to blood-covered zombies and beer-buzzed millennials would just accelerate that trend. This is, after all, a neighborhood that just rebuffed a Starbucks, in part to protect locally owned shops. The issue will put to the test the Baker administration’s desire to discover creative revenue-producing activities for state-owned properties. The state Department of Conservation and Recreation owns and manages the historic fort, and commissioner Leo Roy said he hopes to make a decision within the next 10 days about whether Fright Island should be given a five-year contract to operate. — JON CHESTO



A roof deck for the 1 percent

F or $350,000, you can buy a four-bedroom house in, say, Framingham, or a condo in Dorchester. Or, if you are among a select few, you can buy a 16-by-16-foot patch of roof deck in the Fenway. In the latest salvo of “Can you top this?” by luxury real estate developers, Samuels & Associates is selling something straight out of South Beach on the roof of its Pierce Boston building that is under construction: “sky cabanas.” They’re not canopied cabanas in the classic sense, but 12 open-air roof decks ranging from 150 to 250 square feet, with lounge furniture, wet bar, and an endless view of Boston. They’re priced from $300,000 to $350,000, but are available only to those who have bought a condo in the 30-story tower; those start at around $1 million and run north of $6 million. — TIM LOGAN



Kraft holds talks to build soccer stadium at former Bayside Expo site

Robert Kraft’s hunt for a new home for the New England Revolution has led him to hold talks about building a soccer stadium in Dorchester at the site of the former Bayside Expo Center, which is owned by the University of Massachusetts. Kraft, who owns both the Revolution andthe New England Patriots, has for years wanted to move the Revolutionout of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough and into a smaller facility designed for soccer.After considering properties in other parts of Boston, the billionaire has more recently focused on the Bayside site, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. University officials have been in active discussions with Kraft but do not appear to be close to an agreement, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are ongoing. UMass bought the Bayside Expo for $18.7 million in 2010,after the center went into foreclosure. The university is tearing down the exposition hall as part of its plan to expand the UMass Boston campus to that site. Any deal would probably involve UMass offering a long-term lease for the land and Kraft paying to build the sports complex. A stadium would offer UMass a source of revenue at a time when the university system has nearly reached the limit in its ability to borrow money for major expansions. UMass Boston is also developing a sports management program, which could benefit from access to a professional team. — SHIRLEY LEUNG AND LAURA KRANTZ



Boston bank to offer debit card that pays your student loans back

Banks offer free airline tickets, hotel stays, and shopping discounts through their rewards programs. And earning up to 1.5 percent cash back on purchases is a standard perk of credit card companies. Now, one local bank is offering a debit card that takes 1 percent of all purchases and directs it toward paying down college debt, rather than bankrolling a vacation. Boston-based Radius Bank on Tuesday launched a partnership with Gradifi Inc., a technology startup that manages student loan repayment benefits for companies. They’re hoping to lure millennial customers and earn their good will by tackling one of the biggest financial issues facing that generation. The partnership follows Gradifi’s announcement earlier this month that it had struck a deal with Providence-based Citizens Financial Group Inc. to promote the bank’s student loan refinancing program to employees enrolled in the benefit plan at work. Gradifi customers who refinance with Citizens also earn $300 over six months toward loan repayment. Under the rewards program, Gradifi participants will have to open a free checking account with Radius and get a debit card. Every purchase using the debit card earns the user 1 percent, which goes directly to paying off student loans. Still, with the average student loan debt load at about $30,000, that means lots of trips to the grocery store and debit card swipes to earn enough to chip away at that balance. — DEIRDRE FERNANDES



Veolia to move its corporate headquarters to Boston

Five months after General Electric Co. said it would move its corporate headquarters to Boston, the city can boast about the arrival of another major player in the energy industry, with the relocation of French conglomerate Veolia’s North American headquarters from Chicago. The company’s move, which is set to be announced Tuesday, follows the promotion of Boston executive Bill DiCroce in February to be CEO of Veolia’s North American operations, leading a workforce of about 7,800 people. The number of net new jobs in Boston isn’t particularly large: DiCroce said he expects to add 50 jobs over the next several years to the roughly 250 already in and around Boston. Most of those will come from transfers from Chicago to Veolia’s existing offices in the Exchange Place tower at 53 State St. In comparison, General Electric will add hundreds of jobs in Boston following its decision to relocate its headquarters from Fairfield, Conn. — JON CHESTO