This story ran on page C01 of the Boston Globe on 5/11/2000. © Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

Condo builder and Gillette settle suit
Beacon will inform buyers of traffic

By Richard Kindleberger, Globe Staff, 5/11/2000

Gillette Co. will drop its lawsuit and let Beacon Capital Partners open a condominium complex in Fort Point Channel under a settlement announced yesterday.

In return, Beacon Capital has agreed to notify condo buyers in writing that Fort Point Place is in an industrial area with trucks coming and going around the clock. The condo complex, with 118 units, is slated to open next month.

Meanwhile, a source close to the negotiations said Gillette has agreed to buy a 10-acre parcel to the north of its 33-acre South Boston headquarters from Boston Wharf Co. The property is the location of the so-called casting basin used by the Big Dig to build tunnel sections.

The Fort Point Place settlement ends a standoff that began last August when the razor and personal care products maker sued Beacon Capital in Suffolk Superior Court over the two, six-story warehouses it was converting to condos at Wormwood and A streets. Gillette worried that a growing residential enclave would lead to pressure to limit its activities in and around its South Boston factory.

Eric Kraus, a Gillette spokesman, said the settlement has reassured Gillette it will be kept informed of future development plans in the area and its concerns will be taken into account by city planners.

But Susan Elsbree, a Boston Redevelopment Authority spokeswoman, responded that Gillette is mistaken if it thinks the city will pull back on plans to rezone the area for housing. ''We're sticking to our guns,'' she said.

The city was a codefendant with Beacon Capital. Gillette charged the city erred when its Board of Appeals approved the residential use in an area zoned for industry.

Alan Leventhal, Beacon Capital's chief executive, said he thought the settlement was good for both Gillette and the city. He saw no downside to having the condo association's master deed stipulate the complex is in an industrial area. ''It's acknowledging what exists today,'' he said.

Beacon Capital has pushed ahead with construction in the face of the lawsuit. Leventhal said demand is so strong that 80 buyers have paid deposits to reserve units, which start in the $200,000s. Fourteen will be subsidized.

The outcome was also heralded by Steve Hollinger, a neighborhood resident who is both an open-space advocate and a prospective resident of Fort Point Place. He thought it was ''totally acceptable'' to inform buyers of the area's industrial activities and the need of residents to live with that.

''I've been looking forward to moving in there for some time,'' said Hollinger, a leader of Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design. At the same time, he expressed disappointment at the report that Gillette has agreed to buy the 10 acres from Boston Wharf. The parcel, formerly a parking lot, was envisioned under the city's master plan as a partly residential area that would contain a promenade from the channel to the convention center, being built to the east.

Beacon Capital's Leventhal said he was not worried the warning to buyers that they would be living in an industrial area might depress his condo prices.

But Jerold Kayden, who directs the urban planning program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, was not so sure. He said it could dampen the interest of buyers ''if I'm being blatantly informed that I may be awakened by a Gillettte truck at 2 a.m.''

This story ran on page C01 of the Boston Globe on 5/11/2000. © Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

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