Building 108, the Central Power Plant, is one of a group of buildings in the Navy Yard ceded to the Boston Redevelopment Authority when the Navy Yard closed in 1974.
First floor is 25,000 square feet.
Second floor is also 25,000 square feet.
Third floor has a sloped roof so only 7,000 square feet can be used.
Atrium is 15,600 square feet.
For three quarters of a century the coal-fired plant, which initially supplied electrical power only to its neighbor, Building 107 (the Public Works Shop), ultimately provided almost all of the electric power needed for all facilities in the yard.
After the Navy Yard was decommissioned the BRA, as a way to invite development proposals for the future use of the Central Power Plant, outlined three possible reuse options. These ran the gamut of possibilities, from retaining most of the present building, while removing all of the equipment, boilers, etc. to demolishing the entire structure and building something new. So far nothing has been developed nor has anything been torn down.
However, during some initial cleanup, when the Army Corps of Engineers attempted to remove two very large oil tanks behind Buildings 107 and 108, some of the oil seeped out. A letter from the Army Corps of Engineers states what happened:
Behind building 108 location there was a large concrete slab on grade. Below the slab were tanks listed as tanks 4 & 5 on our contract schedule for removal. These two 25,000 gallon tanks, used to store and supply fuel for the building 108 power plant were pumped, wiped down by a person entering the tank and removed with a large excavator. After removal, the tanks were inspected and there were no visible holes in the tanks. However, there appeared to be a crack in the piping system of the tanks and number 6 fuel leaked into the soils in the area of the tanks and spread laterally under the building.
After further study the Army Corps recommended that, instead of pursuing further cleanup activities in or around Building 108, an “Activity and Use Limitation” be put on the site. This meant that the property owner — in this case the BRA – could not allow any onsite activities that would result in human exposure to now contaminated material. All work had to stop. The building is vacant, openings are boarded up and chain link surrounds the space.
The BRA still owns the building. Geoff Lewis, project manager with the BRA, said the agency hopes to secure a line item of $10 to 15 million dollars in the federal budget which would allow for the demolition of Building 108 and clean-up of the space.