Malden Observer Archive

Malden seeking National Grid site proposals

Sep 23, 2011 @ 02:12 PM

Tucked against the Malden commuter rail station and Route 60, the National Grid complex off Charles and Commercial streets has long been considered a prime target for economic redevelopment by city officials.

A minor league baseball stadium is among the ideas floated for the site and-- with National Grid slated to vacate the 6.46-acre parcel by April-- the Malden Redevelopment Authority plans to solicit proposals for the property in October, with an eye toward seeing construction begin in 2012.

“The development of that site is something we’ve been looking at for quite some time,” said MRA executive director Stephen Wishoski. “It’s potential to have a major economic impact on the downtown was pretty obvious; because of it’s location and its size, it could accommodate something pretty big.

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Malden approves stadium lease agreement

Nathan Lamb

Posted:  11/21/2012 8:58 AM

A proposal to bring Independent League baseball to Malden passed a key milestone on Nov. 20, with city officials approving framework to lease the stadium site.

An investment group known as Boston Baseball Field of Dreams is looking to establish a 6,300-seat stadium at the 6.4-acre National Grid property at 100 Commercial St.

An endorsement of that project and lease agreement for the site were central to a letter of intent approved unanimously by the Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA) board on Nov. 20.

Pending approval by the attorney general and National Grid’s senior management, the agreement will give Boston Baseball Field of Dreams control of the property — allowing the developer to move forward with financing, securing a franchise, and acquiring neighboring parcels for the project.

“It’s the first step, but it’s a big step, because if they couldn’t reach an agreement with  National Grid there’s no project,” said MRA executive director Steve Wishoski.

Wishoski expected the attorney general and National Grid would rule on the letter of intent within the next couple of weeks. He said it would become a public document once it’s executed.

Boston Baseball Field of Dreams founder and president Alexander Bok said the letter includes 90 percent of the lease agreement with National Grid. He said it’s a base 40-year lease, with four 10-year extensions, adding the agreement also includes measures for remediating coal tar contamination on the site.

Bok said having control of the National Grid site provides actual numbers to show investors and the Atlantic League, which he plans to approach for a new franchise. While the Atlantic League is not affiliated with Major League Baseball, Bok said its players are high caliber, saying ex-major leaguers fill a third of its rosters.

“When Roger Clemens wanted to show that he could still pitch in the majors, he went to the Atlantic League,” said Bok

The target date for stadium opening is spring of 2015, and Bok expected the coming months will include raising $50 million to build the stadium, securing permits and acquiring neighboring parcels for the project.

The ballpark as proposed would require all 7.5 acres on the National Grid block, displacing Spadafora Auto Parts, L&L Trucking and Collex auto body repair. Negotiations between Boston Baseball and the local businesses were on hold pending the agreement with National Grid, but Bok expected they would resume shortly — and would not be easy.

“I think a prudent person would expect that,” he said. “They’ve all hired experienced and competent counsel.”

The MRA is not part of the negotiations, but is preparing an Urban Renewal Plan, which would allow for use of eminent domain if a private agreement is not reached. MRA officials have repeatedly stressed that option, which would allow the city to take the land even if a mutual agreement is not reached, is a “very last resort.”

Two people who indentified themselves as ownership for Collex were at the meeting, but declined to comment. Also present was a representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Ed Markey and legal counsel from National Grid.

National Grid announced its intent to vacate the property and consolidate local operations at its Medford Street facility midway through 2011. The MRA issued a request for proposal (RFP) for redevelopment of the National Grid site last fall, and Boston Baseball Field of Dreams was the only respondent.

Wishoski termed the letter of intent the culmination of nine months of negotiations between National Grid and Boston Baseball Field of Dreams, adding the MRA has been involved with those negotiations the past four months. He credited enthusiastic support from Mayor Gary Christenson and Congressman Markey for helping to move the project forward.

Project supporters say the influx of ballpark customers will positively impact the local economy, and Wishoski said the MRA has authorized an economic study on the topic, which will be ready by the end of November.

In a related matter, Wishoski said the neighboring Line Drive batting cage facility on Commercial Street is converting to a restaurant and sports bar, in anticipation of the project.

“They’re anticipating the ballpark is going to be there,” said Wishoski.

The project will require numerous state and local permits, and Bok said the timeframe for those bodies to return decisions was the biggest uncertainty at this point.  Even so, he said he was confident things would come together under his current timeframe.

“As long as the parties continues to move with the effort that they’ve had over the past few months, I ‘m quite confident we’ll open this thing in 2015,” he said. “The challenge is there’s a lot of parties involved.”

Malden hears ballpark update

By Nathan Lamb
GateHouse News Service

Posted Apr 29,2012@ 03:11PM

The National Grid site at 100 Commercial Street will soon be vacated when the company consolidates local operations at its Medford Street location. A development group is looking to build a ballpark at the Commercial Street location.

Malden -

A development group looking to establish a 6,000 seat baseball stadium just outside the downtown is making moves toward acquiring land for the project.

A group known as Boston Baseball Field of Dreams is targeting the National Grid site at 100
Commercial St. and three adjoining parcels for the $51 million proposal.

Having met with company representatives earlier in the week, Steve Wishoski of the Malden Redevelopment Authority expected Boston Baseball would make offers on the neighboring parcels by month's end, adding National Grid has hired a consultant to vet the proposal with an eye toward han1illering out a lease.

"Those  are all good signs," said Wishoski. "They're spending real money. They brought a team:
of consultants that are all working on every aspect of design for the stadium."

Wishoski added Boston Baseball re-iterated its goal of statiing constmction   by March of 2013, so it would be ready for opening day in 2014.

The 6.6-acre National Grid site became available for redevelopment when the utility announced last year it was consolidating its Malden operations. The MRA issued a request for proposal
(RFP) for redevelopment of the site last fall and Boston Baseball Field of Dreams was the only respondent.

The MRA granted a site designation for the proposal in February, opening the door for Boston
Baseball to begin long-term lease negotiations with National Grid.

However, the Boston Baseball proposal requires 7.5 acres, which means the project would displace three local businesses on the block: Spadafora Auto Parts, L&L Trucking and Collex auto body repair.

Wishoski expected the city would have answers on the status of those negotiations and the lease when representatives from Boston Baseball return for another update in June.

While he was not privy to the scope given to National Grid's consultant, Wishoski expected it would focus on the feasibility of the proposal, adding the MRA had a similar vetting process prior to the site designation.

The baseball stadium is being proposed as the home for an Independent League Baseball team. Spealcing earlier this year, Boston Baseball Field of Dreams founder and president Alexander Bok said the Malden site is ideal because it offers enough land, parking and access to public transit.

Bok could not be reached for comment by the Observer's Wednesday afternoon deadline.