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BOSTON-Developers finally begin the regulatory approval process to develop Clippership Wharf, a 13-acre parcel here in East Boston. Noddle Development LP, a partnership of Winn Development Corp. and the Related Cos., filed an environmental notification form with the state to develop a $190-million condominium complex here.

The proposal, which is the latest in a series of proposals for this site, calls for four buildings ranging in size from five to seven stories and a 670-car garage. In addition to the 400 market-rate units, the proposal calls for various retail and commercial spaces. The units will run from $350,000 to nearly $1 million, which still makes them cheaper than proposed condominiums at Fan Pier or Millennium Place. According to Carol Gladstone, project manager for Noddle, the project’s largely residential nature is due to the “community’s clear preference. The East Boston master plan calls for it.”

This site has been vacant for nearly 20 years. About 12 years ago, developer Edward Saxe proposed a 370-unit condominium complex here but the collapse of the economy forced the plan to be abandoned. The Beal Cos. tried again four years ago but complained that the state’s Chapter 91 regulations that monitor waterfront development made the project too difficult. This area is very eager to have its sites developed and the momentum provided by other projects–such as the mixed-use development being proposed by New Jersey-based Roseland for the adjacent Pier One, a wharf currently owned by the Massachusetts Port Authority–have made the option more viable.

However, Noddle still has to win over community residents in its public review of the project, which then must lead to an approval by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. There is some concern that not enough of the ground-floor space will be set aside for public use. Under Chapter 91, 75% of the ground floor space on the waterfront is set aside for public use but the developers have proposed moving some of that space to a different part of the site, closer to Maverick Square, away from the waterfront.

“We are providing the amount of square footage required,” Gladstone tells Globest.com. “The only question is where on the site it will be located to maximize public use of the waterfront.” Gladstone points out that locating public space near Maverick Square would help connect that area to the waterfront.

But Vivian Li, of the Boston Harbor Association, tells GlobeSt.com that because the project is so heavily residential, people need to be encouraged to utilize the waterfront and developers here are not meeting the legal requirement for the amount of public space set aside.

“The developers want to shift the requirements to the backlands and we don’t have a problem with revitalizing that area but we don’t want to lose the opportunity to revitalize the waterfront. We want to be sure we have maximum public access to the waterfront.” As Li notes, prices for space on the waterfront is higher than in the backlands but she says, “Developers have to be creative about exploring the range of opportunities.”

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