Ruggles Gets Partner

Roxbury Project Draws Connecticut Developer

A leading New England retail developer has joined the quest to transform a barren Roxbury parcel into a commercial and cultural hub, sources tell the Herald.

Feldco Development Corp. has agreed to develop the long-awaited Ruggles Place, a $400 million arts, retail and housing complex proposed by Elma Lewis Partners, headed by Barry Gaither, director of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists.

The project would span more than 1.3 million square feet at the corner of Tremont and Ruggles streets, an idle stretch of city-owned land opposite Boston Police Headquarters and known as Parcel 3.

Gaither declined to name his new partner, saying he wanted to first seek approval from the local project review committee, which is scheduled to meet tomorrow.

Feldco, of New Canaan, Conn., has developed supermarkets and shopping centers throughout New England and New York.

Though the community has talked about a supermarket at that Roxbury intersection since 1995, it remains unclear whether developers intend to lure a supermarket to Ruggles Place.

Neighborhood planners picked Elma Lewis Partners after years of consideration. Despite its popularity with the community, the project has faced political and financial hurdles.

The Herald reported last year that the Boston Redevelopment Authority booted the project’s developers after they moved to scale back the role of a key ally of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, project manager John E. Kavanagh, who is no longer involved.

Days later, angry residents successfully pressured the city to reverse course. The BRA again designated the site to Elma Lewis Partners, giving it more time to secure a financially sound partner.

But David Begelfer, head of the commercial real estate association NAIOP Massachusetts, said completing such a large-scale project in this economy is a long-shot for any development team.

“It sounds like something that is a wish-list for the area,” he said.


Boston Herald / Original Article by Jessica Van Sack