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BOSTON-After sitting vacant for more than 30 years, the Ropewalk Building could be getting a new lease on life. The Boston Redevelopment Authority is preparing a request for proposals to develop the 110,000-sf building which is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

This is not the first time the BRA has tried to get a developer to breathe new life into the odd-shaped 166-year-old building, which is a quarter of a mile long and 42 feet wide. The city got the building when it acquired the Navy yard in 1978. The building had been used to manufacture rope for the Navy.

Meredith Baumann, a spokesperson for the BRA, tells GlobeSt.com that over the years the BRA has tried it get it developed, “to no avail.” Baumann points out that the building’s historic status has created development restrictions that have managed to scare developers away time and time again.

But Baumann says that the BRA is now considering easing some of those restrictions. What prompted the renewed interest in developing the building is a recent fire which caused damage to the building and, notes Baumann, “created the need to readdress” rehabilitating the building.

Among the restrictions on development of the building is that the facade cannot be changed. The doorways and windows of the building are small and the restrictions now will not allow them to be changed, altered or added to in number. As Baumann says, this does not provide “ideal office conditions.” Other restrictions include the development of a historic exhibit. Baumann says that any deal with a developer will probably involve a long-term land lease, something that most properties in the area adhere to.

“Restrictions will be eased,” says Baumann. “Everyone is in agreement that something needs to give.” Baumann adds that it remains to be seen what changes will be allowed. The BRA is currently working to develop the RFP and Baumann emphasizes that there will be community participation in that decision. She says that the BRA hopes to release the RFP by the end of December.

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