Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Giant Expansion Planned for South Bay Shopping Center

The owner of the South Bay shopping center in Dorchester is planning to expand the complex by another 10 acres, resulting in construction of five new six-story buildings containing 475 apartments, 130 hotel rooms, a cinema, and stores. South Carolina-based developer Edens Inc., which owns several other East Coast shopping centers, wants to start building the first phase of the adjacent South Bay Town Center, in 2016.

The two-decade-old Dorchester shopping complex is no one’s idea of traditional city development. But it bustles as shoppers from Boston neighborhoods seek out the same low prices and broad selection that major chains offer suburban consumers.

Edens’ 9.9-acre mixed-use residential project would plunk 475 apartments, a 130-room hotel, a 65,000-square-foot cinema with 12-screens, multiple restaurant spaces and 113,000 square feet of retail space as well as three parking garages.

A total of 1,066 parking spaces would be included in the project.

The project will encompass 10 parcels on Allstate Road, West Howell and Enterprise streets, and Baker and Field courts — largely vacant, commercial/industrial land and parking lots south of South Bay Center.

Each of the buildings would be mixed-use, except for the hotel—which would stand alone. Edens also plans to add new roads and open space around the new buildings.

The shopping center developer said the social and economic activity generated by the project could be an impetus for “positive change to abutting, antiquated commercial and industrial properties” in the area between Massachusetts Avenue and the Southeast Expressway.

Public officials seem to agree that the new development would surely rejuvenate an area of Dorchester, which is riddled with vacant lots.

“The goal … is to provide a high-quality, pedestrian-oriented experience similar to other shopping districts such as Cambridge’s Harvard Square.”

The company has operated South Bay since 1998 and expanded it to Massachusetts Avenue in 2006. The first phase was built in the early 1990s on the site of a former Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse, after plans for a biomedical facility there failed.

Existing buildings on the site include the closed Kam Man food market, a closed two-story office building, vacant shipping and loading facilities and the Aggregate Concrete plant.

The expansion plan replaces the concrete plant and adjacent buildings with apartments and stores.

Several big-box retail stores already do business at South Bay, including Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Olive Garden and Panera Bread have restaurants on the property.

Edens also plans walkway improvements to connect South Bay Center to commuter rail service at Newmarket Station, as well as bus and subway service at Andrew Station on the MBTA’s Red Line.