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Core Investments Eyeing Samuels to Partner on $400M Southie Plan via CBRE

May 22, 2018 — By Joe Clements
Rendering: Washington Village at Andrew Square, South Boston

BOSTON—No one talks about moving Fenway Park to South Boston anymore, but another Fens fixture could soon be arriving to the neighborhood, with market watchers claiming Samuels & Associates is angling to join Core Investments Inc. as developers of Washington Village, a $400 million mixed-use project near Andrews Square encompassing 656 residential units plus nearly 100,000 sf of retail and a public park. Core Investments founding principal David J. Pogorelc assembled the five-acre site comprising 235 Old Colony Ave. earlier this decade, and upon securing city backing began shopping for a joint venture partner through CBRE’s multifamily sales team.

CBRE Vice Chair Simon J. Butler would not discuss the evolving situation, even declining to say whether his multifamily team co-led by Vice Chair Biria St. John is playing a role in the process, an aspect others maintain is affirmative. While pricing parameters remain undefined, the parties “are way down the road” on cementing an agreement, according to a CRE professional familiar with the negotiations. “I think they have it,” volunteers a second CRE professional regarding Samuels & Associates, the veteran source among those anticipating Core Investments will retain a stake in the development. Samuels & Associates would likely be lead developer, according to sources, with the value equation further clouded by just how much of a piece Core is making available.

Steve Samuels, a third-generation developer who launched his namesake company in 1986, is already familiar with Andrews Square, having 25 years ago built the nearby South Bay Center in Dorchester, a pioneering urban mall on the other side of the Southeast Expressway. Its mixed-use project in Allston across from Harvard Stadium is a more recently completed Boston product of Samuels & Associates, but the firm’s signature accomplishment is in the Fens where hundreds of apartments and condominiums have been built in several high-rise towers along with extensive office and retail, the award-winning contributions dramatically improving the once-neglected district surrounding Fenway Park.

Pogorelc is another veteran investor active in metropolitan Boston for decades, his Core Investments possessing various urban holdings besides Washington Village. A call to Pogorelc’s Hub office was not returned by press deadline, while Samuels & Associates also did not respond to inquiries regarding market buzz circulating about the partnership bid.

Core Investments is already working on the Washington Village site, having begun demolition of existing facilities there last autumn. The firm has been pursuing its vision over the past five years, and observers report in-place permitting is providing a leg up on surrounding properties which are being listed now for similar purposes.

“Urban development is on fire right now,” relays one CRE broker whose firm is listing multiple sites across the city—including one in South Boston—and is a self-described “big fan” of Pogorelc for kick-starting the seemingly unfettered potential contained in a linear stretch along the MBTA Red Line from Broadway in South Boston to the UMass stop in Dorchester. “You are actually going to see a skyline (emerging) over there, and that will get people excited,” predicts the source. Washington Village calls for buildings of 18 and 22 stories along with smaller structures of three- to six stories, although even those will raise the profile of the area that is defined by low-rise industrial buildings and aging three-deckers.

Other aspects of Washington Village will be 110 affordable housing units and parking for 560 vehicles, both in short supply. The commercial footprint of 98,600 sf will foment a third element under-represented along Old Colony Avenue and other streets framing the ambitious project—streetscape retail. The 1.5-acre park is further expected to increase pedestrian traffic in and around Washington Village.

Simon Butler Biria St. John Steve Samuels