Last Thursday night at the third public meeting for its $250,000 Greenway development study, the BRA’s Kairos Shen and Peter Gori allowed their Toronto consultants to present various developmental scenarios for neighboring areas. See the previous post (Harbor Garage Dominates Greenway Meeting) regarding the Wharf District which is being used as a prototype and the furthest ahead in terms of design. This is not the least because of a pending proposal by developer Chiofaro to build towers on the Harbor Garage site.

While not as far along as the Wharf District, scenarios were shared for the other surrounding districts along the linear Greenway. The term “activation” was used frequently and the Greenway itself is classified as a “game changer” for Boston; comparable to Millennium Park in Chicago or the newly opened Chelsea Parks in New York City. Connecting the neighborhoods to the Greenway and the harbor are stated priorities.

A swift tour through the Greenway was made during the presentation with concepts left to linger with the audience. Future meetings will flesh out the details. Here are the highlights:

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greenway-pergolal-3The team considers the new North End parks to be isolated and challenged by surrounding ramp edges and the “backs” of existing buildings. One goal would be to create “fronts” and connections to Hanover and Salem Streets. Having a Market District around Parcel 9 is a possible theme to “activate” the parks. “Food brings everyone together” was mentioned as a concept to support such a market district. Parcel 9 is currently undergoing its own vetting as part of a separate development process. 

Chinatown and the Leather District – Chinatown has its “back” toward the Greenway as its vibrant center is far inland and away from the new parkland. These Greenway parcels have good solar orientation and the key goal of the study is to make a link to Beach Street.

Dewey Square remains a challenge. It has bad environmental conditions, but lots of people and is seen as an opportunity to have a civic plaza near South Station.

200 State Street and Marketplace Center were originally designed to separate Quincy Market from the old highway. In order to reverse this framework, one scenario for development is to add retail frontage on the Greenway side replacing the brick walls. A second scenario is more ambitious with 10-story high buildings and a retail pavilion opening up to Quincy Market. A variation could include removing the ends of certain buildings and/or removing the glass canopy of Marketplace Center to open up the Greenway to Quincy Market.

End of Broad Street (Town Cove around Custom House Tower) – Scenarios for development are geared to repair the “cutoff” look through development up to 105ft consistent with surrounding buildings. A more aggressive massing could go up to 155ft.

Congress St and Northern Ave Sites – The area around the Coast Guard building and Hook Lobster is viewed as an opportunity to connect the Greenway to the Seaport District. Scenarios here include raising the site up to 10 stories adjacent to Rowes Wharf. These areas would likely be more commercial than residential. The Hook Lobster site could go to 200ft, in-line with Rowes Wharf’s existing height.

The BRA clarified that these design scenarios are premature without the benefit of study on the environmental, transportation and economic parameters. Questions and comments from the audience were primarily related to the Harbor Garage, although a few residents made comments on the following:

  • Is the BRA looking at making anything smaller rather than larger in terms of development?
  • How is the city “living experience” being considered?
  • Labor union representatives indicated a preference for high-rise development.
  • The Greenway Conservancy is looking for environmentally-friendly sustainable development.
  • Several attendees reiterated the need to bring people to the Greenway

The BRA’s next Greenway study meeting is June 23 regarding transportation impacts at City Hall on the 9th Floor starting at 6pm.

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