Developmental Delay: Chain Forge and Rope Walk Projects Ask for Another Delay in Projects

By Seth Daniel

Two major redevelopment projects of old Navy buildings in the Navy Yard will likely have additional extension granted at the June 15 meeting of the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) – adding another 90 days to what already has been several years of planning and delays.

The Chain Forge Hotel and the Rope Walk residential project have petitioned the BPDA for another extension to their final designations to continue working out financing, ground leases and other matters until Sept. 30. The BPDA recommended the extension to the Board, and has granted extensions twice already in December and March.

The Chain Forge Hotel project is brought by Kavanagh Advisory Group and includes the development of a 230-room extended stay hotel operated by Starwood Hotels. The project would include a 6,000 sq. ft. restaurant and valet parking at the AutoPort.

A key part of the project includes a $12 million remediation clean up of the site before construction can begin, and that has complicated financing – the developers have stated at previous BPDA Board meetings.

The current hold up is one that has continued for some time, and that is closing on state Historic Tax Credits  – which are expected to unlock $18 million in equity funds for the $92 million project.

However, the closing cannot come until the National Park Service can remove the Chain Forge equipment inside – which it owns – and the Massachusetts Historic Commission can be satisfied with modifications to the design of the building.

Additionally, a ground lease with the BPDA has been holding up things as well, but it seems that the terms have been worked out recently. Both parties now have to agree to that lease, and the developer has to take out a building permit by Sept. 30 to maintain its final authority.

The project began in earnest in 2013.

The Rope Walk residential project is in the same ship, with an extension to Sept. 30 being asked for and a BPDA recommendation to grant it.

That project has also been ongoing since 2013, and is brought by former State Senator Joe Timilty. However, the project has a few more hurdles to clear that the Chain Forge.

The project filed a project change one year ago, to bring in 97 units to the Building 58 and 60 in the Navy Yard – with 20 percent of the units being designated as affordable. Extensions on that project were also granted in December and March as well.

Some of the ongoing issues include negotiating a construction contract with Gilbane Building Company, entering into a management contract with Peabody Properties, finalizing Article 80 review documents and negotiating the terms and conditions of a ground lease with the BPDA.

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