Chain Forge, Ropewalk Projects given 90-Day Extensions for Permits; Polk Street Approved

By Seth Daniel

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) Board gave 90-day extensions to two high-profile redevelopment projects in the Navy Yard that have had numerous stops and starts over the last several years – citing that final preparations are being made to close out the elongated process on both the Chain Forge Hotel and the Ropewalk residential project.

During the Board meeting on Dec. 15, Dennis Davis of the BPDA said the Chain Forge hotel project in building 105 of the Navy Yard is being delayed because of an administrative disagreement between the National Parks and Massachusetts Historical Commission on removal of historic industrial equipment.

“The final delay on closing and financing is being held up by a dispute between the National Park Service and the Massachusetts Historical Commission regarding the decommissioning and removal of historic chain forging equipment, which is located on the premises, as well as a modification of design guidelines of the building,” he told the Board. “It’s now in mediation of an administrative disagreement that will be resolved through a Memorandum of Agreement.”

He said that $18 million in federal and state tax credits had yet to be closed on as well, primarily because of the administrative dispute. A lease on the property has also been delayed and has not yet been executed.

In July 2016, the Board voted to designate 1st Avenue Hotel LLC as the developer of the hotel project, with a stipulation that permits and final designation had to be completed by Dec. 31.

That did not happen, and the Board voted Dec. 15 unanimously to allow an extension until March 31.

On the Ropewalk residential project, Davis reported that there has been a bit more progress and no disagreements.

Frontier Enterprises LLC has completed the BPDA Article 80 review process, it has drafted a lease and will close on a $31 million MassHousing grant by March.

Right now, a subdivision plan is being prepared and the company is looking to finalize the choice of a general contractor for the challenging project.

The Board voted unanimously at the Dec. 15 meeting to extend the final designation to March 31 as well.

Meanwhile, at 30 Polk St., which abuts the hotly-debated One Charlestown redevelopment, Polk Street Development LLC requested to change its newly-purchased 30-unit project from rentals to condo ownership units. That includes four condo units that will be classified as affordable housing.

“The developer is not proposing to change the building design or the unit mix,” said John Campbell of the BPDA. “We’re really pleased this project is finally underway. (The change) is just a personal preference by the new owner of the project. I don’t think it has anything to do with whether rental is better. The new developer is just not interested in property management.”

The change was unanimously approved by the Board.

The project was first approved by the Board as rental units in Aug. 2013 with the developer as Charlestown’s Doug McDonald.

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