The giant Art Deco structure at 25 Fid Kennedy Ave. in Boston’s Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park has sat empty for years. Its heyday ended long ago — when the building housed a Navy machine shop during World War II. But John Cannistraro and his Watertown construction company have figured out a way to bring the long-neglected building back to life.
On Thursday, J.C. Cannistraro LLC celebrated the opening of its fabrication operations in the 157,000-square-foot building. The company will assemble plumbing and HVAC systems there before installing them in major construction projects across the city. Cannistraro is consolidating operations that had previously been in Stoughton, Wilmington, and Watertown.
Cannistraro said the city-owned site is ideal for his business, in part because of its central location. Cannistraro declined to say how much his company spent on the extensive renovations that were needed, but he expects to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by having the fabrication work done under one roof.
About 100 employees — out of an 800-person workforce — will be at the new site.
The two-story structure was last occupied in the early 2000s, when it was used as a storage site for Big Dig materials.
A Boston Planning & Development Agency spokeswoman said Cannistraro has a 50-year lease, at a cost of $450,000 annually, and with a 12.5 percent increase every five years.
“The existing structure needed a lot more work than we anticipated,” Cannistraro said. “It’s like buying a house that’s 80 years old, and nobody’s done anything to it in 80 years . . . [But] it’s like the Eiffel Tower inside. It’s just beautiful.”