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Conservation Group Questions Potential Massport Conflict Of Interest Over Southie Power Plant

If approved, the decommissioned Boston Edison Power Plant site will give way to 2M SF of mixed-use development over the next 10 to 15 years.

A plan to turn a shuttered power plant in South Boston into a 2M SF mixed-use development is running into a familiar waterfront development foe. 

Boston-based Redgate and Illinois-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners are partnering on a proposal to redevelop the closed Edison Power Plant into a project that could eventually create about 1,300 residential units, 368K SF of office, 85K SF of retail and two hotels. Some South Boston residents have opposed the plan, and the Conservation Law Foundation has sent a letter to the Massachusetts Port Authority over a possible conflict of interest the agency has with one of the developers, the Boston Herald reports

Conservation Law Foundation President Bradley Campbell points to Redgate’s website listing its services as a Massport consultant as a potential conflict of interest in the redevelopment of the Edison plant. Both Massport and Redgate claim those services ended in 2014.

While Massport doesn’t own the Edison property, it does own and operate the neighboring Conley shipping terminal. The port authority opened a bypass road in front of the Edison plant in 2017 that connects the terminal to Summer Street.

Prior to constructing the bypass road, Massport reached an agreement with the previous owner of the Edison plant that prevented residential development on the property. The move was to maintain the Conley terminal’s industrial use at a time when commercial developers were beginning to eye other industrial zones like Widett Circle for redevelopment. 

Campbell’s letter expressed concern with how the proposal has moved through the planning process so far under an assumption that Massport will lift the ban on housing at the Edison property, but Massport hasn’t been completely in favor of the project. The special agency voiced its own concerns last fall over some residential components of the project being too close to operations at the Conley terminal.  

“Massport has taken no action on the release of the deed restriction,” a Massport spokesperson told the Herald. “Once the project has definition and the community agrees to proceed, and as we do with similar real estate transactions, we intend to present the project and the deed restriction issue with the Massport Board at an appropriate time should it become necessary.”

The Conservation Law Foundation has been a consistent thorn in the side of developers clamoring to build along Boston’s waterfront. The organization continues to fight a zoning plan that enables developer Don Chiofaro to build a 600-foot tower on the site of a parking garage he owns next to the New England Aquarium. The CLF also opposed developer Jon Cronin moving forward with the St. Regis Residences, Boston. That project has broken ground and is scheduled to open in 2020.