Banker & Tradesman: “Call It âNoPoint’: New Lechmere Station Is The Least Of Troubled NorthPoint Project’s Woes”
Forget that $70 million MBTA station. When it comes to building out Cambridge’s troubled NorthPoint project, relocating Lechmere Station won’t be the half of any developer’s worries. That’s because new internal documents show the public infrastructure tab on the project is a staggering $257 million.
Pan Am Railways and the NorthPoint Cambridge Land Co. (populated by former Spaulding & Slye executives), the developers of the 5 million-square-foot East Cambridge development, have tried and failed to unload their land and development rights twice since late 2007.
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A November 2008 memo from a Berkeley consultant lays out total infrastructure costs that are more than twice the cost of rebuilding Lechmere Station â a project that Pan Am and NorthPoint Cambridge had agreed to assume, and which state leaders are now vowing to pin on the developers’ successors.
The Berkeley memo sketches out more than $257 million in infrastructure costs associated with the project; the new T station only accounts for $111 million of that sum. The rest of that tab consists of considerable work to Monsignor O’Brien Highway and First Street, new roads and utilities inside the project’s perimeter, parking, bonding fees and carrying costs. $20 million of this work has already been completed, but $237 million remains outstanding, and will become the responsibility of whichever developer eventually buys out Pan Am and NorthPoint Cambridge.
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NorthPoint’s troubles have set the relocation of the Green Line’s Lechmere Station back several years. That, in turn, has threatened the entirety of the $600 million Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford, which the state is legally mandated to complete by the end of 2014.
Development activity at NorthPoint has been at a halt since shortly after its first phase broke ground, in 2005. Its developers envisioned building a 5 million-square-foot mixed use mini-city, including 2.2 million square feet of commercial space, 150,000 square feet of retail and 2,700 residential units.