Community Real Estate

Dizzying Development Discussion At Greenway Meeting

October 20th Greenway Leadership Council Meeting
October 20th Greenway Leadership Council Meeting

It was a whirlwind tour of potential Greenway development projects at the October 20th meeting of the Greenway Leadership Council (GLC). The tour director was Linda Jonash, Director, Planning and Design, from the Greenway Conservancy. At the second meeting in as many weeks, the GLC and Conservancy are catching up the review of several projects.

There were so many projects mentioned that instead of delaying this post further, I am going to run through them quickly and come back to them in future articles as the details are fleshed out.

Here’s the list of scheduled and proposed projects:

  • Signage
  • Shading Study
  • Parcel 12 – Urban Nursery
  • Parcel 13 – Armenian Heritage Park (funded)
  • Parcel 14 – Harbor Islands Pavilion (funded)
  • Parcels 19, 21, 22 – Dewey Square Parks
  • Chinatown Projects

Other than the Armenian Heritage Park and Harbor Islands Pavilion, none of the projects are funded. The Conservancy will have to raise or find the money in order to complete additional projects. There was some discussion about State funding, but many on the GLC thought that was unlikely beyond what is currently committed.

Click image for a descriptive Greenway map.
Click image for a descriptive Greenway map.

Most relevant to the North End/Waterfront neighborhood is Parcel 12, a development parcel, just south of the existing North End Greenway parks. Currently, it is a blighted area dominated by highway ramps. It was originally designated for the Boston Museum, but is now empty with a black, chain linked fence. The Museum has indicated that it won’t build on the parcel, citing inadequate structural support on the location for its project. Instead, the Museum has turned its attention to Parcel 9.

The Conservancy is proposing a temporary project called an “Urban Nursery” on Parcel 12 in the area along Cross Street/Surface Road between the North End parks and the proposed Armenian Heritage Park. Young trees would be planted in pots along rows, as if in a real nursery. After a period of time, an entire row would be “harvested” for use in other locations. An educational component is anticipated as part of the project. With no funding, the first planting would largely depend on donations with recognitions on the site.

North End GLC members were concerned about the urban nursery concept, saying it was not “elegant enough.” Specifically, they noted that it did not address the empty area on the residential side of the North End. With no reason to enter the nursery, the parcel could actually discourage visitors. No other options were presented, but it was noted that residents had previously hired a landscape architect for Parcel 12. It was further questioned why only a temporary project is envisioned since the neighborhood has clearly disfavored the Boston Museum and no other developer is likely to build on the restricted space.

Signage (Estimated Cost $150,000) –
The signs currently on the Greenway are temporary. The Conservancy has hired Roll Barresi for a design intended to “brand” the Greenway concept, identify districts and direct activities. The Conservancy will present a proposal at its November 3rd meeting. If funded, the signs would be installed in June 2010.

Shade Study – The North End Parks are always in the sun so temporary shade structures will be studied until the vines grow on the pergolas. The Conservancy showed an image of a tent by the ring fountain with a fabric top. Furniture, including umbrellas, is also part of the shade study.

Parcel 13 – Armenian Heritage Park (Estimated cost $5 million)
Construction documents are well-underway for this approved project. See this article for details: Armenian Heritage Park Making Progress For Greenway Opening in Fall 2010

Parcel 14 – Harbor Islands Pavilion (Estimated cost $5 million)
This project has funding although an unspecified glitch has developed with the Turnpike Authority. This project was first presented at a June 2009 meeting. See this article: Harbor Islands Pavilion On Greenway

Greenway Leadership Council deliberates with the Conservancy.
Greenway Leadership Council deliberates with the Conservancy.

Dewey Square Parks – Parcels 19, 21, 22 (Estimated cost: $3-$5 million)
These are the parcels originally developed by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society that is no longer involved with the Greenway. The Conservancy has hired Maryann Thompson Architects and landscape architect Michael van Valkenburgh.

The Conservancy would like to make a “great lawn”, flattening the current sloping design and eliminating the flower beds currently on these parcels. Management cited problems with high maintenance costs, soil problems and inadequate drainage. A structure was also displayed with potential for food sales, restrooms and/or storage.

On Parcel 22, close to South Station near the current farmers market, the Conservancy is proposing a long wood deck with a stage adjacent to the existing tunnel intake building. Potential activities include a crafts market, movies or artificial ice rink.

This is a large project and the Conservancy would need to embark on a major fund raising drive, along with extended reviews. The development could be broken into parts.

Chinatown Projects – The City announced a designer for the renovation of Mary Soo Hoo Park. The redesigned park will include a playground and a connection to the new Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and the surrounding Chinatown neighborhood. The Conservancy also mentioned a new development building adjacent to the Greenway at 120 Kingston Street.

Near the end of the meeting, the GLC and public in attendance seemed a little dazed by the volume of information. The GLC asked the Conservancy to create a project milestone timeline with all the projects on one page.

The issue of “public process” continues to be raised. How should these potential projects be vetted and reviewed? As an example, the GLC expressed concern regarding how changes were made for the Armenian Heritage Park sidewalks without their input. The Conservancy answered by handing out and citing sections from the final version of its Development Protocols. This document is likely to be very important in upcoming reviews.

The Conservancy said they are looking for feedback on these project ideas at:

The next Greenway meeting is November 3rd, a joint meeting between the Conservancy and the GLC. See the Calendar for details.