The Truth About Fort Point

Load up the website of celebrated developer Tony Goldman, and you’ll get an earful from Tony himself. He’s the narrator for a video that plays automatically on the site, in which, over a jazzy soundtrack, he explains how he created vibrant neighborhoods like Miami’s South Beach and New York’s SoHo. Tony has an enthusiastic, sincere delivery, and when he talks about how he brings neighborhoods to life—street life, buzz, “a true sense of place”—it sounds exciting, almost magical.

“When we look at a space,” he says toward the end, “we see the truth in it.”

That line once sounded so full of promise. But as Goldman backs away from his plans to remake Fort Point, it’s hard not to wonder: Has he looked at this space and seen an ugly truth in it?

Goldman once owned 17 properties on Fort Point, sold 7 of them, and the Globe reports today that he’s selling two more. They’ll now likely be used for office space, because the office market is hotter than condos, which would keep Fort Point a quiet, empty-seeming place. That’s hardly the kind of SoHo magic Goldman once promised, and an unfortunate bridge between downtown and the maybe-burgeoning South Boston waterfront.

Goldman’s instincts are well-respected, so his moves are getting notice. “It’s a bellwether,” Debra Taylor Blair tells Boston Daily. She’s president of Listing Information Service, or LINK, which compiles real estate market data in Greater Boston. “[Fort Point] was kind of going to be a shining star, a new neighborhood, and I think that it’s difficult to accomplish that when you have a shift from residential development to commercial.”

But the speculators need not speculate for too long. Berkeley Investments, which owns another slate of Fort Point buildings and has similar plans to Goldman’s, is in the midst of building FP3, a condo development with a Barbara Lynch restaurant inside. It’s scheduled to open this spring, and when it does, we’ll get a real, concrete look at how condos in Fort Point can fare.