Community Real Estate

BRA’s Greenway Study – Where’s it Going?

This Shanghai picture created a stir at the 1st GDPS meeting.
This Shanghai picture created a stir at the 1st GDPS meeting.

With four of the six public meetings for the Greenway District Planning Study (GDPS) now completed, should we start getting worried where this is heading? The goals of Boston’s transportation grid are certainly a worthwhile subject as discussed in the last meeting, but it gave little sense where Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) officials are leaning toward Greenway development.

The next meeting will be in mid-September. I am not as cynical as Mayoral Candidate Kevin McCrea who blogged that City Hall was delaying controversial subjects in an election year. However, three months does seem a long time to table the subject. I don’t envy the study officials either, as the last two meetings will have to encompass an enormous amount of material.

With only two meetings left before the big-bang conclusions of the BRA’s study, there is still a lot of work to do. These conclusions will set the tone for decades of Greenway life, so a lot is at stake. Will the Greenway be lined with glass office towers extending the Financial District? How will the plans impact the residential neighborhoods that line the linear parks?

“Activating the Greenway” is the buzz phrase used by BRA officials. Developers have taken that to mean office towers. Hotels and tourist businesses are hoping for more visitors. Neighborhood residents would like to keep access to the new parks and open space.

For the neighborhoods on the front lines like the North End/Waterfront, there will be very little time for public debate and recourse with three major developments already on the drawing board (Harbor Garage, Government Center Garage & Parcel 9 Haymarket/Blackstone St). It will be challenging for this study to adequately address the myriad of long-term Greenway issues. That is a shame given the once in a lifetime opportunity to shape and protect the Greenway for generations to come.