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January 12, 2013

Moving ahead with a plan for I-4, C-2

The past two years have brought tremendous progress on the city’s vision of the port economy. I’m encouraged by the success that has been achieved, in particular the opening of the HarborWalk, steps toward the redevelopment of the former Birdseye property, Endicott College in our midst, and the progress the resident-driven maritime economy working group is having on further defining the jobs and investment that make up a 21st century port economy.

Just days into the new year, the city is once again taking aggressive steps to address an important economic issue — development of the waterfront property at 65 Rogers St., commonly known as the I-4, C-2. We know this parcel is one of the most highly visible, probably most talked about, and certainly one that provides the greatest opportunity for the economic transformation that we seek. By issuing a new Request for Proposals (RFP) for the property, one that incorporates private sector input, we will be in a stronger position to attract developers who will help achieve the city’s vision.

Long-time residents know the city has sought a better use of 65 Rogers St. for nearly 50 years. Our newest effort to attract interest reflects evaluation, planning and private sector input resulting from the initial RFP process. Though the first RFP drew interest from a significant volume of developers, we learned an attractive waterfront parcel is not enough to deliver a project that will meet the regulatory requirements of the Designated Port Area (DPA) and give rise to conforming modern-day uses.

After 30 years, the city secured 1-4, C-2 from a private developer in 2010 and proceeded with an “idea development” agenda. This process helped craft criteria for the first RFP. We sought to entice experienced bidders who were fully financed, teeming with innovative concepts and capable of delivering new revenue. We also sought proposals that would comply with maritime-dependent use requirements of the DPA while allowing the city to retain ownership of the land.

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