"A move by the FBI to the Fort Point Channel area could help
accelerate development of a new neighborhood."
Thomas C. Palmer, The Boston Globe
Copyright (c) 2006 Globe Newspaper Company
The Boston Globe
FBI may seek move to S. Boston
Bureau considering Postal Service land
By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff
Local Federal Bureau of Investigation officials are considering relocating the agency's Boston office from downtown to a new facility along A Street in the emerging Fort Point Channel area, using land now owned by the United States Postal Service.
The FBI, with headquarters now at One Center Plaza, is seeking 270,000 square feet of highly secure space and has been scouting the city for almost a year.
Last year, the postal service said it plans to move its massive Dorchester Avenue distribution center along the Fort Point Channel near South Station to Summer Street in South Boston. It would also give up a large block of acreage on A Street, now used mostly for parking.
In the last month, the FBI extended its lease at One Center Plaza, across from City Hall, for 3 1/2 years, to give the agency and its real estate partner, the General Services Administration, time to find a location, engage a developer, and build a new home.
"We're in the process of getting a new building," Gail A. Marcinkiewicz, FBI public affairs coordinator, said. She said she believes a site has not been selected.
The General Services Administration would not say whether it is focusing on one location, following its request last March for proposals from developers for sites. "We can't say anything about the specifics," said Paula M. Santangelo, public affairs officer for the New England region. "We're working with the FBI to evaluate the locations that were identified to us. We've got several interested parties."
But according to a city planner and local developer who could be involved in the project, the FBI is zeroing in on a portion of a 22- acre lot owned by the Postal Service between the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and Fort Point Channel.
Though the deal is not done, the FBI offices could also include about 2 acres of privately owned land now used for parking at the southern end of the former warehouse buildings known as Channel Center. Those parcels are approved for 620,000 square feet of office space in two buildings, under permits secured by the land's former owners, Beacon Capital Partners LLC.
The current owner of Channel Center is Commonwealth Ventures LLC of Southport, Conn. Richard Galvin, president of Commonwealth Ventures, said yesterday that he had spoken to the FBI last June and again recently when it expressed interest in the area.
"They asked us to submit something," he said. "I really can't say anything. Their process is going along."
Galvin could develop the site for the FBI and has hired R.F. Walsh Co., a business run by former Boston Redevelopment Authority director Robert Walsh, as a consultant on the continuing redevelopment of the Channel Center buildings.
Both the city's planner and the local developer, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak for the bureau, said the combination of the Postal Service land and the Channel Center site could provide enough space for a headquarters as well as setbacks from publicly accessible areas that are needed for security.
The land is bounded on the east by the Haul Road, which is restricted to commercial traffic, and the convention center.
A move by the FBI to the Fort Point Channel area could help accelerate development of a new neighborhood. In 2006 the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved a master plan for the area that called for residential, retail, commercial, and office development, along with more than 11 acres of parks. Under the plan, buildings would range from low-rise structures to a small number of towers rising 180 feet. About 4 million square feet of development is currently envisioned.
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