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More on The FID
In case you’re wondering, The FID gets its name from its address of 25 Fid Kennedy Ave. And in case you’re wondering about that, the street is named in honor of Thomas "Fid" Kennedy, a life-long South Boston resident who worked for the International Longshoreman's Union, Local 800. Kennedy contributed greatly to the welfare of longshoremen during his career.
The building, historically known as “Building 16,” originally went up in the early-1940s as part of the South Boston Naval Annex built by the Army Corp of Engineers. The site served the U.S. Navy as a heavy machine shop. The open, steel frame structure and 40-ton overhead crane capacity facilitated large-scale metal fabrication and assembly supporting the U.S. efforts in WWII.
This building was one of many industrial facilities that made up Boston’s Marine Industrial Park, now known as The Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park in honor of the city’s 52nd mayor.
Following the closure of the Boston Navel Annex in 1974, the building and the surrounding area for that matter fell into disrepair. The structure was last occupied in the early 2000s, when it was used as a storage site for Big Dig materials.
Cut to 2016, and Cannistraro signed a 50-year lease to rehabilitate the building as its consolidated prefab center. According to its proposal:
"As an innovator in the construction industry, the Proponent mandates modular prefabrication so that the bulk of construction-related work will occur offsite and be delivered to the project for installation. The proposed Project will substantially rehabilitate the existing, vacant, industrial building for use as a plumbing, HVAC, fire-protection, and related construction industries product assembly plant incorporating fabrication, staging, storage, shipping/receiving and associated office functions. The Proponent will salvage and restore materials when feasible, and where not feasible, will replace materials with materials of similar appearance so as to preserve the historic character of the building."
The company did a tremendous job preserving the architecture heritage of the building, even replicating what the original single-and double-leaf paneled wood doors with decorative strap hinges looked like.
The once nearly empty and abandoned industrial park is now occupied by 250 businesses housing 3,500 employees. The area has been identified as a prime location for consolidating, preserving and growing Boston's ocean trade, maritime industries and industrial uses. It is also intended, based on an official city plan, to create and protect decent-wage jobs for a variety of skill levels.
Promoting trade jobs
As a result, part of the mission of The FID is to provide local residents with training and job opportunities in the building trades.
“The vision we had for the building as a multitrade union manufacturing center was really compelling to the city,” says Matthew Cannistraro, fabrication manager.
Any Bostonian interested in joining the building trades can get hands-on experience as a shop hand.
“That’s one of the few non-union positions that exists in the company where someone interested in the trades can be around construction all day,” Matthew adds.
The shop hand position functions essentially as a pre-apprentice program. Shop hands keep The FID up and running by making sure everything is organized for the union pros. Later, if the shop hands are interested, the company helps coach them through the application process for an apprenticeship program.
Good thing, too, since Boston city officials require more diversity on construction projects. It’s nothing new. It started 35 years ago with the Boston Resident Jobs policy.
Last year, however, the target numbers increased for the first time. So now, 40 percent of hours on a construction job must be performed by people of color, 12 percent by women and 51 percent by Boston residents. (That's up from the previous targets of 25 percent, 10 percent and 50 percent, respectively.)
But the target numbers are not being met. Last year, women represented only 5 percent of hours worked on construction projects in the city. Minorities represented about a third. Out of 191 construction projects in 2017, only five met all three benchmarks — and none of the biggest projects in the city.
“The vast majority of our work is in Boston,” Matthew says. “Part of what we are doing is driven by those requirements, but above and beyond that, we’re committed to having Boston residents build Boston."