EDIC to buy land for ferry expansion

August 23, 2012
By Chris Stevens/The Daily Item

The city’s economic development board voted to spend $600,000 of its own money to buy a piece of land to expand the Blossom Street Extension ferry project that last sold for $1.5 million in 2003.

“The 2.3 acres will be used for the commuter ferry project,” said Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James Cowdell. “It will cost $600,000 and will save us money on construction costs.”

Cowdell said he and attorney Paul Keating regularly track tax delinquent properties and they have had their eye on 37-39 Bubier St. for some time.

The property was owned by the Mayo Group. Cowdell said the real estate development group owed $50,000 in back taxes on the property but then it sold or transferred the lot to a real estate firm in Texas. He said he reached out to the Texas group, and they flew in to meet with him along with board members Chairman Charles Gaeta and Ted Smith.

The property is next to the land EDIC already owns at the end of Blossom Street Extension that was at one time, according to board member Dominic Ferrari, home to Eastern Smelting. Cowdell said he explained to the new owners that EDIC not only owns the adjacent property but it owns the mudflats that run along the Bubier stretch of land, which means no it has no waterfront access.

“It’s only real value is to EDIC, and it’s in a designated port area so you couldn’t put housing or anything like that there,” Cowdell said.

Ferrari asked if the property, given its former tenant, was clean and Cowdell said environmental studies conducted by the Mayo Group state that it is.

In a letter to Cowdell from Ronald Bourne, president of Bourne Consulting Engineers, which is overseeing the community ferry project, Bourne noted that buying the land would actually save in construction costs.

The letter states the city would have had to build a steel bulkhead to keep the ferry project from encroaching onto the Mayo property and which would have cost $345,000. The purchase of the property eliminates the need for the bulkhead, Bourne noted.

Smith called the purchase great news.

“It will really be beautiful,” he said. “We’ll clean up the property before we develop a whole master plan. It will be perfect.”

Gaeta said the additional land opens up a world of possibilities to exist alongside the ferry.

Cowdell said he envisions building a two-story facility with a ticket counter and rest rooms on the first floor for commuters.

“And upstairs could be anything,” he said. “Think big.”

Chris Stevens can be reached at cstevens@itemlive.com.



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