January 18, 2006

New Condo Developers Will Test Convention Wisdom

Boston Herald

Boston’s glitzy new convention center was built to wow trade show executives, but it is proving to be a big hit with another type of business player altogether — condo developers.

The real estate arm of New York-based Hypo bank has filed plans with City Hall to convert South Boston’s Fargo building — a former military complex just across the street from the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center — into 263 mid-market condos, offices and retail shops.

The giant meeting hall, in turn, has become the centerpiece of a city drive to redevelop the South Boston waterfront.

“There is a coolness factor here,” said James Rooney, chief executive of the state authority that runs the new center. “It’s not traditional Boston. . . . It’s the new emerging place.”  Hypo isn’t alone.

A trio of other developers are also drawing up plans for condo projects that will come with generous views of the sleekly modern, $800 million-plus convention center.

Intercontinental Development, a real estate firm owned by Boston’s Palandjian real estate family, is drawing up plans for hundreds of condos in a high-rise complex near the hall on D Street.

Meanwhile, John Drew, Fidelity’s development partner in the World Trade Center complex, is pushing ahead with plans for Waterside Place — a mixed-use retail, condo and hotel complex that would take shape across the street from the convention center’s Summer Street front door.

And more competition is on the way, with a group of out-of-town housing developers eyeing yet another site on the convention center’s perimeter — also off D Street, executives said.