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BOSTON-A key 23-acre parcel in the city’s booming Seaport District has been sold for $204 million to a partnership team that includes a local developer and a major New York financial institution.

Gale International, of Boston, and Morgan Stanley Real Estate, say they plan to spend about $2.5 billion to turn the site, acquired from media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., into a new neighborhood containing up to six million sf of retail, office and residential properties along the South Boston waterfront.

“This is the most exciting opportunity for the city in a generation,” John B. Hynes III, chief executive officer and managing partner of Gale International, says in a statement. “This land is the heart of the Seaport which in our view, is the future of the city.”

The partnership team acquired the property just five months after News Corp. took over ownership of the land from Los Angeles Dodger owner Frank McCourt. . McCourt, who borrowed $145 million from News Corp. to buy the team using the land as collateral, had been under pressure from the city to develop or sell the waterfront parcel, long considered by the city to be a key piece in the development of the South Boston waterfront.

The site is one of the largest undeveloped parcels in the city and connects Boston’s central business district to the newly evolving Seaport District, which contains the Boston Convention Center and the World Trade Center as well as the proposed Fan Pier, Pier 4 and Waterside Place developments.

Scott Oran, executive director and head of Morgan Stanley Real Estate’s Boston office, tells GlobeSt.com that News Corp. selected the Gale International/Morgan Stanley team because of the partners’ proven ability to close the deal and develop the 24-acre site. “It’s a terrific piece of land and we think it’s a terrific and exciting opportunity for this city,” says Oran, adding that Morgan has teamed up with Gale International on several other large-scale development projects, including the creation of a 3,000-acre city in Korea, which the partners are currently developing.

Although plans for the South Boston site have not yet been worked out, Bob Maloney, senior vice president with Gale International, tells GlobeSt.com that the site has the potential to support up to six million sf of development at a cost of $2.5 billion in today’s dollars.

“We hope to be able to create a new neighborhood and create a place where people will want to work and live and shop and play,” says Maloney, adding that the group plans to work closely with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and neighborhood groups during the project’s design and development.

The partners, who teamed up locally in the early 2000s to build One Lincoln St. in Boston, say they expect to break ground on the South Boston site sometime in 2008 with full build-out anticipated to take 10 to 15 years.

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