To the initiated, the Commercial Triangle remains a conglomeration of somewhat blighted legacy industrial properties, but more and more developers from outside of the city are catching the vision for the area that Mayor Carlo DeMaria and late Building Inspector Jim Soper had when they brought in new zoning and a new plan for the area.
The latest is Block Properties, headed up by Jonathan Block of Chestnut Hill, which has spent just more than $10 million acquiring property at Second and Vine Streets for a pioneering residential development.
“It’s a very interesting area,” he said. “We had obviously seen some of the other projects constructed or proposed in the area. That, in conjunction with what seemed to be a very friendly City environment for development with zoning changes and a pro-development atmosphere, it really appealed to us for our next project. It’s a place to be for a long time.”
Block Properties has been constructing and managing residential projects all over Greater Boston, noting Somerville as an area they have concentrated on.
Block said it might be hard for those in Everett or long-time residents to see the potential value right now, but he said the area is a gem and has a lot of momentum with numerous projects on the Everett and Chelsea sides – as well as the potential extension of the Silver Line running right along Second Street in the near-future.
“It’s hard to see the future when you walk through there now,” he said. “It’s not without risk to us and other developers. But you have the Pioneer and the proposal at the Stop & Shop. You also have the project on Garvey up from us and the Greystone project (at the old Wood Waste site). On the other side of the border in Chelsea there is also the Fairfield project. There’s a lot started and a lot coming in. There’s a combination of availability of land and parcels along with a pro-development atmosphere.”
Block also said there’s a lot more difficulty developing in some other places, particularly as developers scour the region for good residential sites.
“Other developers in Cambridge or Somerville or other submarkets are looking for the next area and I think this checks a lot of boxes,” he said. “It’s not going to be transformed a year or three years from now, but 10 years from now it will look really different and for the better.”
Right now, Block has his project before the Planning Board, and had a first review of it on Monday night. There will be more reviews, and he said at the moment the project is car-oriented, but he doesn’t expect that to be the case for all the Commercial Triangle in the future.
In all, he said they are excited to continue their journey in the new area and look forward to working with the Planning Board to transform the Triangle with other pioneering developers.