Step Toward Development at State Pier

Years of Planning Lays Ground Work for MassDevelopment Agreement with Taber’s Wharf Partners as Provisional Designated Developer of New Bedford State Pier

December 22, 2022

Matthew Mogavero, 857-248-0868

Photo of New Bedford State Pier, courtesy of MassDevelopment.

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – Today, MassDevelopment announced it has recommended Taber’s Wharf Partners for the redevelopment of New Bedford State Pier, and both parties have entered into a Provisional Designated Developer Agreement. This recommendation follows a competitive process that included the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) in April 2022 developed in collaboration with the City of New Bedford. Taber’s Wharf Partners includes Buyers and Sellers Exchange (BASE), Raw Seafoods, Servedwell, Crowley Wind Services, and Coast Line Transfers.

Taber’s Wharf Partners proposed a redevelopment of the property to include seafood auction and processing, street-side retail and restaurants, support of off-shore wind, and continuing support of current uses where feasible. The Taber’s Wharf Partners proposal was identified as the most advantageous to the property and state and local objectives. 

The Taber’s Wharf Partners proposal envisions New Bedford State Pier showcasing the present and future of the Port of New Bedford. Since the State Pier is at the heart of one of the most dynamic working waterfronts in the region, and at the foot of the major east-west corridor in New Bedford that connects the historic downtown with the heart of the waterfront, the proposal will work to reinvest in the facility. This includes developing the marine industrial aspects of the pier in a way that ties the site to the city it serves in a safe, thoughtful, and genuine way by using the more than eight acres to grow marine industrial activities on the pier including ferry, terminal operations, commercial fishing, light commercial, and dining. The proposal also strives to create a space that is inviting to visitors to the ferry operations, Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey, and the National Historical Park.

Additional details along with copies of the RFI and RFP submissions can be viewed at:


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The Provisional Designated Developer Agreement activates a process that requires the parties to further identify over the following 180 days a detailed development plan through a due diligence process that will engage the current and potential users of the property to define the preliminary design (plans, elevations, parking and traffic studies), proposed agreement structures, development pro-formas backed by financials and professional cost estimates, detailed sources and uses, and any phasing of the development.

“MassDevelopment sees this as a crucial step toward the vision that New Bedford stakeholders have been working towards since 1980,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “We have had the honor to be stewards of the State Pier and have worked hard to bring tenants under agreements and make capital improvements integral to the pier’s safety and success. We’re proud to take this next step forward and work with Taber’s Wharf Partners on the future redevelopment of this incredible property.”

“For the last decade, the City has sought to activate the State Pier, the centerpiece of our waterfront which has long been the region’s most underutilized parcel of land,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “The development group selected today, comprised almost entirely of established New Bedford-based businesses, has presented a proposal consistent with what stakeholder groups have demanded: a redevelopment scenario that at once serves the port’s maritime industries and knits the front of the pier to the downtown in order to draw more residents and visitors to the waterfront. This is a major step forward in a long effort, and I am grateful for the determination of Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera to work with us to see it through. I also thank Senator Montigny for his consistent support along the way.”

“The NBEDC’s Regeneration Project committee is comprised of 39 members that represents community, institutional, and business leaders who are committed to shaping, advocating for, and tangibly advancing strategies for sustainable and shared growth for the City of New Bedford and the region,” said New Bedford Economic Development Council President Anthony Sapienza. “This group has highlighted the potential the State Pier offers beginning in 2014 and has consistently supported the many actions that Governor Baker, the legislative delegation, and MassDevelopment have taken to get us to today’s milestone announcement.”

New Bedford State Pier Municipal and State Development History:

  • As early as 1980, New Bedford Heritage State Park planning for the waterfront and downtown envisioned New Bedford State Pier as a central waterfront asset having a higher level of industrial function and pedestrian use for the waterfront and downtown. This effort, conducted by the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) predecessor, the Commonwealth’s Department of Environmental Management, was the impetus to the establishment of the Whaling National Historical Park in 1996. Public support for the proposed concepts of waterfront plazas and an interpretive center was heard again in planning charrettes held by the Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE) in 1995 and 1996.
  • In the late 2000s, the pier redevelopment continued to be a highlight through public planning exercises for the waterfront and downtown. Public access without impinging on the ongoing industrial uses of State Pier continued to have public support.
  • In 2016, with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), the City of New Bedford, New Bedford Port Authority, and New Bedford Economic Development Council worked with dozens of stakeholders on the development of a waterfront framework plan with Sasaki Associates.
  • In 2017, MassDevelopment worked with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on an assessment of all state piers. This resulted in the recommendation to transfer New Bedford and Fall River State Piers to MassDevelopment, based on studies by Karl Seidmann (2016) and the success of MassDevelopment’s management of Jodrey State Pier in Gloucester. The Acts of 2018, Chapter 228, Section 58(a) furnished a way forward for MassDevelopment to lease the property for up to 35 years. MassDevelopment signed an agreement with the Commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to manage and operate New Bedford State Pier for a five year term, which was extended in 2022 for an additional five years.
  • In 2018, the current conceptual planning for the New Bedford State Pier developed by Sasaki Associates as part of a larger waterfront framework plan demonstrated that a more robust development of the State Pier was possible and at the urging of the Mitchell Administration, Senator Montigny, and Governor Baker, the Legislature passed an act that allowed for the development of the pier consistent with those conceptual plans. 
  • Beginning in 2018, MassDevelopment has brought tenants at New Bedford State Pier under annual agreements and increased property revenues into a positive Net Operating Income (NOI) for three consecutive years in 2020, 2021, and 2022. The original Sasaki study was refined to more specifically focus on the western edge of the pier. 
  • Between 2018 and 2019, MassDevelopment conducted a comprehensive Capital Needs Assessment of New Bedford and Fall River State Piers. The assessment identified a $70 million Capital Need in New Bedford.
  • In 2019, MassDevelopment performed repairs to the East and South Wharfs to maintain options for cargo operations.
  • In 2019, MassDevelopment secured $2.5 million in federal and state funding from the Federal Highways and Waterways Administration and the Baker-Polito Administration.
  • In 2021, MassDevelopment secured $25 million from the Baker-Polito Administration to replace the balance of the failing North Wharf, which was identified in the 2018-2019 Capital Needs Assessment.
  • In 2021, MassDevelopment issued a Request for Interest (RFI) to gauge private and public interest in redevelopment options.
  • In 2022, MassDevelopment maximized property use with monthly cargo operations throughout the year.
  • In 2022, MassDevelopment released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for redevelopment and received three responses.
  • In December 2022, MassDevelopment entered into a Provisional Development Agreement with Taber’s Wharf Partners, allowing parties to work together throughout 2023 to define parameters of a redevelopment that aligns with state and local objectives.

“As a member of Taber’s Wharf Partners, BASE Inc. looks forward to working alongside MassDevelopment to create a new offload and auction facility for our operations at State Pier,” said BASE Inc. Director of Operations Cassie Canastra. “We set out to establish an educational space where we can teach the general public about the ins and outs of the seafood industry—showing them how a fish or scallop gets from sea to plate. Our new facility will showcase the hard work and dedication of our local fishing community while also providing our fishing vessels a state-of-the-art facility to offload their catch.”

“I look forward to opening a “boat to table” restaurant on State Pier,” said Servedwell Owner Steve Silverstein. “Having worked on this project for a while, I am really confident that this project will be a huge catalyst for the continued regeneration of New Bedford. The partnership is strong, talented and local.”

About Taber’s Wharf Partners: 

  • Buyers and Sellers Exchange (BASE), a family-owned business in New Bedford for 28 years.
  • Raw Seafoods, a family-owned local business with 500 employees and 24 years of experience.
  • Servedwell, headed by Steve Silverstein, owner and operator of several restaurants in the New Bedford area that employee 500 people.
  • Crowley Wind Services Inc., a subsidiary of Crowley Maritime Corporation, a family-owned marine transportation and logistics company with 130 years of experience.
  • Coast Line Transfers, a family-owned local marine transportation company.
  • Development, design, and legal support from Traggorth Companies, RODE Architects, and Partridge Snow & Hahn.

MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2022, MassDevelopment financed or managed 356 projects generating investment of more than $1.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 11,080 jobs and build or preserve 1,778 housing units.