Heavy equipment has moved onto Ocean Avenue this week to begin work on the new plaza deck and pedestrian bridge at Wonderland Station, and at the same time the project’s developer is laying plans for a hotel and for an apartment building.
Surveyors and earthmovers from Suffolk Construction stationed themselves in front of the station this week to begin working on the area that – for decades – has been a parking lot with one of the best views in America.
The crews will begin quick work to construct the plaza deck feature of the Waterfront Square development, along with the centerpiece of the entire project – a pedestrian bridge modeled after the Zakim Bridge in Boston.
That project will proceed at breakneck speed this summer and should finish up by October.
Just coming off of a public meeting last week at the Paul Revere School, designated developer Joe DiGangi, of EuroVest, told the Journal he has started serious talks with hotel chains and is leaving his options open on that part of the development in order to see what will happen at the potential casino site in Suffolk Downs.
The hotel must commence in January 2013 according to the contract and DiGangi said they are trying to find out how they will develop the hotel, and just how many rooms it will contain.
The building will be 45,000 sq. ft. and DiGangi said they might do one of three things.
First, they could develop the property themselves with the agreement of a major hotel chain, called a “flag” in development circles, to manage the full-service hotel. Secondly, he said they might assign the hotel development rights to a separate developer who will bring in the flag and build the building. The third option is for EuroVest to partner with another developer to get the project done.
The monkey wrench in the hotel project – which is expected to abut the plaza deck – is what will happen with the potential casino at Suffolk Downs. That possible project will also have a hotel, and DiGangi said it is difficult right now to figure out just how many hotel rooms to build.
In general, he said they are moving forward on the hotel with as much flexibility as possible.
He said they might build 100 hotel rooms and make the other 200 units apartments, with the possibility of converting them to hotel rooms in the future. He also said they might build just 100 rooms right now, leaving the top two floors unfinished but ready to build out if necessary.
DiGangi said that while he expects the development to stand on its own, he also expects the Waterfront Square hotel to be the primary off-site hotel for the potential casino, especially being that it would be the closest waterfront hotel to the proposed gaming facility.
He indicated that it would be foolish not to keep his options open at this point with so many things up in the air.
DiGangi said he is also working hard towards getting underway on a 194-unit rental apartment building closer to Revere Street on what is known as the North Lot.
He said that he is not compelled by his agreement to start work on that component of the project just yet, but he is anxious to get something happening there. He added that the rental market is hotter than ever in Boston, especially for luxury apartments in prime locations.
All in all, DiGangi said things are beginning to move forward and there will be endless action and construction from here on out.