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New Bedford State Pier Redevelopment Moves Forward

Aerial view piers in New Bedford, MA
New Bedford Harbor

In December 2022, MassDevelopment announced its official recommendation of Taber’s Wharf Partners to redevelop the New Bedford State Pier in New Bedford, Massachusetts. This recommendation follows a competitive RFP process held in 2022. It draws on suggestions from a site and feasibility analysis conducted in 2020 by Karl F. Seidman Consulting Services in collaboration with Karp Strategies and Jacobs Engineering Group.

Karp Strategies’ economic development practice centers on developing strategies that are forward-thinking, actionable, and based on a nuanced understanding of the local community, market, and historical conditions. We are thrilled to see our economic development work contribute to the advancement of reinvestment plans for this important facility.

The New Bedford State Pier is an 8.5-acre waterfront site adjacent to New Bedford’s downtown. Its current uses include docking for fishing vessels, a busy passenger ferry terminal, some break-bulk cargo, marine support services, and government offices. Despite this activity, the State Pier remains underutilized relative to its capacity.

Karp Strategies first began our work at the New Bedford State Pier in 2016, collaborating with Karl F. Seidman Consulting Services and Urban Focus LLC to provide a fiscal and operations analysis of four State Piers across Massachusetts. This analysis supported future policy and use decisions made by MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth’s economic development agency, and the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council (SEC). Following the analysis and delivery of a comprehensive final report, MassDevelopment took over operations and management of the New Bedford State Pier in 2017 and began repositioning this working waterfront for future economic development opportunities.

In 2020, MassDevelopment sought a deeper use analysis specific to the New Bedford State Pier in order to activate expanded maritime and industrial operations and increase revenue. Building off our initial 2016 work, Karp Strategies analyzed the State Pier’s current uses and five possible future revenue generation opportunities to inform and drive a comprehensive economic development strategy. Our team evaluated the project context by conducting a planning and baseline analysis, examining existing area economic and demographic conditions, and assessing community assets and needs. This research informed a full analysis of the feasibility of locating offshore wind support services on the State Pier, including extensive research and stakeholder interviews examining the offshore wind supply chain, timeline, workforce impacts, and development risks.

The redevelopment proposal and agreement between Taber’s Wharf Partners and MassDevelopment draws on the findings from this analysis and marks a significant step forward in building a thriving economic development ecosystem moored to the State Pier. The proposed redevelopment will include offshore wind support services, seafood auction and processing, street-side retail and restaurants, and other marine industrial activities—uses informed by Karp Strategies’ feasibility analysis. The two parties have entered a Provisional Designated Developer Agreement, and redevelopment planning will begin this year.

Through our community and economic development practice, Karp Strategies works closely with clients like MassDevelopment to analyze, develop, and implement community and economic development strategies, policies, and strategic plans. We believe in establishing diverse and inclusive workforces, tapping into the critical role of small and minority-owned businesses in project supply chains, and sustainably leveraging and retrofitting existing assets—including piers like New Bedford—to meet the needs of the 21st-century economy.

Read the full press release about the New Bedford State Pier partnership below.


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