The Seaport World Trade Center predates the rapid building boom taking place on the South Boston Waterfront. But the fixture could soon be swept up in those changes, as the building’s manager looks at potentially redeveloping the property.
Pembroke Real Estate, an affiliate of mutual fund manager Fidelity Investments, confirmed that it’s looking to hire an outside firm to study the redevelopment of the sprawling, roughly 800,000-square-foot waterfront complex. The structure includes 565,000 square of offices, where Fidelity is an anchor tenant, and 150,000 square feet of meeting space. It’s primarily two stories tall, with a three-story section.
A spokeswoman for Fidelity said the company doesn’t expect that any potential redevelopment will affect the company’s local head count. Fidelity employs about 5,000 people in Boston, including about 1,500 at the World Trade Center. The investment firm’s headquarters is less than a mile away, at 245 Summer St. overlooking the Fort Point Channel.
Pembroke spokesman Michael Aalto said Pembroke is still in the early stages in its assessment, and he couldn’t guarantee whether the vast convention hall in the World Trade Center would remain in place. Any redevelopment would include offices, and it’s possible that it could bring more retail spaces as well. Right now, there are just a few storefronts in the building, along Seaport Boulevard.
“The Seaport has really grown and it’s really evolved over time,” Aalto said. “It just seems like this presents an opportunity to further enhance the neighborhood.”
Aalto said the study will also likely assess the possibility of an expansion of the 428-room Seaport Hotel next door, but is not expected to affect Pembroke’s two office towers in its Seaport Place campus, Seaport West and Seaport East.
Fidelity was part of the team that initially developed the World Trade Center complex in the mid-1980s, fashioning it out of the cavernous Commonwealth Pier building, through a land lease with the Massachusetts Port Authority. Over the next decade or so, Fidelity built out its Seaport Place campus, making the fund firm one of the first private companies to place a big bet on the area’s renaissance.
Eventually, others stepped up. In the past 10 years, office buildings and fancy restaurants have replaced the sea of parking lots between Seaport Place and the Fort Point area, completely changing the complexion of the area and driving up property values there.