When Boston-based developer Redgate acquired the 14-acre Exelon power plant property in South Boston last year, there were no guarantees that any portions of the Summer Street landmark would be retained as part of a major mixed-use redevelopment.
But Redgate quickly identified three turbine halls as central to its strategy of making the property a magnet for the surrounding neighborhood. Stretching the length of two football fields and spanning approximately 1 acre, the connected brick structures with 80-foot ceilings could be suitable for farmer’s markets, art exhibitions, restaurants and makerspaces for local craftspeople, said Ralph Cox, a principal with Redgate.
“You walk in that turbine hall and it is spectacular in so many ways,” Cox told Banker & Tradesman. “We thought it had the opportunity to be the heart and soul of this corner of the neighborhood, and we’ve maintained that. With its structural integrity, it started to feel like it could be retained and we could turn it into something special for all of us.”
Architects SGA, engineers VHB and Toronto urban planner Ken Greenberg are advising Redgate on the project, which is a partnership with Hilco Redevelopment Partners. Toronto’s 13-acre Distillery District – a redevelopment of 40 historic buildings completed in 2003 – is one of the inspirations cited by Redgate in its planning initiative documents submitted to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).
Closer to home, Millennium Partners is making a three-story public “Great Hall” a centerpiece of its proposed 775-foot-tall office and condominium tower at 115 Federal St. in Winthrop Square. That feature, substituted for a high-level observatory, would create a new east-west pedestrian connection between the Financial District and Downtown Crossing, Millennium executives say.
Cox sees a similar benefit in the Redgate project linking East 1st Street with a section of the waterfront that’s long been off-limits to the public, connecting to a new promenade along the Reserved Channel.
Redgate will submit an Article 80 large project application to the BPDA in several months, Cox said, while the community process is expected to continue throughout the year.