It’s official: a dormant coal-fired plant that once powered the city of Boston will be transformed into 1.68 million square feet of mixed-use space.
On Jan. 14, the Boston Planning and Development Agency approved the redevelopment of 776 Summer St. — formerly the Edison Power Plant. The project will construct new buildings, renovate four historic turbine halls, and open the site to the public for the first time in more than a century, according to a press release. The announcement signaled the end of a multiple-year community review process by Hilco Redevelopment Partners and Redgate Capital Partners.
A lot is coming to the 15.2-acre property, including 860,000 square feet of commercial and R&D space, 80,000 square feet of retail, 636 housing units, and 240 hotel rooms, per a virtual public meeting held Jan. 6.
In addition to the new construction, the partners plan to restore four of the plant’s turbine halls. Gregory Bialecki of Redgate, a principal on the project, called the buildings the “heart and soul” of the development. Two of the halls will maintain their open floor plans, and one will house a market or food hall.
The project will also designate 5.7 acres — or 38 percent of the site’s total area — as public open space. The largest chunk will be a 2.5-acre waterfront park, and another green space will include a basketball court and at least one other active recreational area.
In order to bolster the South Boston community, the partners will give more than $10,000,000 to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to improve transit and traffic in the City Point neighborhood, and will install smart signals and fiber-optic connectivity to improve traffic flow, as well as bus frequency and reliability. The project encompasses pedestrian safety improvements, such as wider sidewalks on both ends of East First Street, new pedestrian corridors, and new bicycle paths. Additionally, there will be 120 parking spots free to South Boston residents on nights, weekends, and during snow emergencies; 16 percent of the project’s housing units will be designated as affordable; and local and city- or state-certified disadvantaged small businesses will get priority access and below-market rents to the proposed retail space.
“We’re grateful to the South Boston community, its leaders, and the BPDA for supporting our vision to transform this abandoned site into a modern and sustainable district that will create jobs, housing, and community-friendly spaces for the South Boston neighborhood,” Melissa Schrock, senior vice president of mixed-use development at Hilco Redevelopment Partners, said in the release. “This is a complex adaptive reuse redevelopment of an obsolete industrial site that has been inaccessible to the public for over 120 years. Thanks to the valuable input we’ve received, we look forward to reinvigorating the property for generations to come.”
The coal-fired plant was first constructed in phases starting in 1898, and was the largest generating power station in operation in a six-state area by the 1960s. It was decommissioned in 2006, and the partners purchased it from Exelon Group in 2016. The project is slated to be built in phases over roughly the next 15 years.