Hello ‘The Smith,’ Goodbye Harrison-Albany: Groundbreaking and Rebranding on East Canton Street

Unveiling their new name, The Smith – formerly the Harrison-Albany project by Leggat McCall – officially broke ground in an exciting ceremony shortened by torrential rains on Tuesday morning.

The entire-block project will include approximately 650 units of housing with 65 of those units on site, as well as 75,000 square feet of office, some 20,000 square feet of retail/cultural space and 650 spaces of underground parking.

Both Leggat McCall and Brian Golden, director of the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) said the development came in the wake of the Harrison Albany Corridor Strategic Development Plan, which wrapped up in 2012.

“The Smith creates much-needed new affordable and market rate housing, along with substantial public open space, and street-level retail that improves the pedestrian experience.” said William Gause, executive vice president of Leggat McCall Properties. “We are proud to have worked so closely with the community in order to build a project that supports the neighborhood’s growth, while also maintaining the integrity of this unique part of Boston.”

Gause said the process with the community was thorough and good. The project did receive a great deal of scrutiny as it wound through numerous community meetings starting around three years ago. The main contention with the community was the overall number of units, as well as the parking arrangements.

Golden said the project came directly out of the planning process. He said the plan on paper was “notional,” or theoretical, and the groundbreaking on Tuesday was the process of seeing an idea become reality.

“To see it begin to come together in concrete form…is a wonderful thing for the city,” he said. “It’s a great achievement for the Harrison Albany Planning process.”

That said, the plan for the area where The Smith lies was for office and lab space rather than residential. The BPDA has said they never expected to see the wave of residential projects in the Harrison Albany corridor, with The Smith being one of them.

The Smith takes its name from the artisan history in the area South of Washington Street. As part of the retail offerings, cultural space will be created for a variety of potential neighborhood uses. The project team said they view it as an opportunity to embrace the project’s location between the vibrant artist community, historic industrial uses, new small businesses, and the strong residential neighborhood of the South End.

The site was purchased from the Boston Medical Center in 2014. The design by Boston-based firm CBT intends to complement the existing buildings in the neighborhood, and will be targeting the Silver level under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Funding for the project came from Bentall Kennedy which has been investing in the South End since 2007.

“The Smith is in a clear path of growth leading from Boston’s financial district, and the recent announcements of planned developments in the neighborhood validate our early confidence in this location,” said David Antonelli, executive vice president of Bentall Kennedy. “With the support of our investors, many of which are Building Trades pension funds, as well as the City of Boston and Mayor Walsh, we are excited to contribute to the ongoing transformation of this vibrant neighborhood.”

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