Real Estate

IAG Throws Up Yellow Flag on the Government Center Garage Plan

The Government Center Garage Impact Advisory Group (IAG) threw a wrench into the existing developer-led process by insisting that they set the agenda from this point. The turning of the tables happened at last week’s public meeting held at City Hall where a letter from the IAG to the BRA was presented. The group hopes this will result in a more agreeable project plan instead of the tower-heavy, dense office park proposed by developer/owner of the garage, Raymond Group. The IAG is a citizen advisory body guided by the BRA and made up of 12 residents and interested parties from three abutting neighborhoods: West End, Beacon Hill and the North End. Members of the IAG are recommended by local politicians and appointed by the Mayor.

Government Center Garage Redevelopment Impact Advisory Group
Government Center Garage Redevelopment Impact Advisory Group

Several members of the IAG voiced the need for less review of the developer’s plan and more public discussion of the possibilities. Some did not think that future meetings would be productive unless the process is substantially revised. Raymond has not updated his development plan in over a year so it is not clear what IAG comments have been incorporated into the design.

To show their combined resolve, the IAG issued a formal letter as read at the meeting by Bob O’Brien of the West End/Downtown North Association.

Here is a partial list of issues raised in the IAG’s letter:

  • Proposed height and density – IAG strongly objects to what has been proposed.
  • Economic justification – What are the alternatives?
  • Zoning Compliant Options – Why are these not being considered more thoroughly?
  • Architectural details are too vague.
  • District Master Plan – Is this development going to be a focal point or the standard of future development in the area?
  • Where and why does this project fall within the Greenway District Planning Study?
  • Public Elementary School option – The IAG wishes to discuss this option.
The audience watches the IAG deliberate at the public meeting.
The audience watches the IAG deliberate at the public meeting.

Mark Paul, President of the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association, stated that bringing an office park and expanding the Financial District to the edge of three residential neighborhoods was unacceptable.

Ted Raymond asked whether the IAG wants anything built instead of the garage. Leaving the garage “as is” remains an option for the developer. There was general agreement that some type of mixed use development was desirable, but not millions of office square footage. The IAG also questioned why they are being asked to review a plan that includes BRA/City-owned land when it is unclear if this can be part of the redevelopment. There were also comments made that the current process was unduly repetitive and not fair to the IAG nor the developer.

With the three neighborhoods joining forces, it was suggested that the IAG work with the developer on a new plan. The group wishes to avoid working backward from a huge monster plan back to something agreeable. Many in the room expressed concern that this redevelopment project could set the design precedents for future development in all three abutting neighborhoods.

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Tower scenario on the site currently occupied by the garage.Click here to read the full letter from the IAG to the BRA
See also:
Gov’t Ctr Garage IAG Mtg #5 – Height & Parking

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4 Replies to “IAG Throws Up Yellow Flag on the Government Center Garage Plan

  1. Am I the only one concerned about the environmental impact of pulverizing concrete buildings every day of the week? The garage is fine. All it needs is to be muralized or something. Next, they’ll want to rip down City Hall. We’re all going to die from white lung.

    P.S. Nice hole downtown. I have a funny feeling that garage space is going to be "under construction" for two decades.

    One of these days we’re gonna look back on Scollay Square and sing, "Those were the Days."

  2. E. Dee Bundt-Kerr is not alone in making an excellent point about the proposed destruction of the Government Center Garage. I wrote an open letter to the Raymond Group about environmental impacts some six months ago. It was published in the North End News, shortly after the monster project was proposed. In that letter I pointed out that the North End suffered through almost 20 years of the Big Dig, and we now would like some years of peace and quiet. I suggested Raymond leave the garage as it is. After all, they say it is profitable now as a garage. The dust from pulverising concrete is just one of the scores of horrible environmental problems the developer would throw at us. Of course, the developers and their lawyers and architects and financiers don’t live in the North End, so why should they care. Naturally, my letter was ignored by the Raymond Group.

  3. 2 point Reality Check

    1- That garage is a hideous mistake. It was built as a temporary solution and it has no place teetering above my neighborhood like a concrete Jenga game. Whatever replaces it will be an improvement. Above ground parking garages are a sign of a failing city and we need to sink them below grade and replace that air space with functional urban space – that means residences, businesses and the functioning new infrastructure that goes with it, like public schools and recreational facilities. And I’m sorry – that means building either tall or thick. If you are anti-construction, Hilton’s Tent City has some specials on the top floor you might want to investigate.

    2- City Hall is a leaky, non-adaptable, inaccessible, asbestos-laden, mouse-riddled, carchitectural brutalist failure cast in hastily poured concrete, sited in a vast wasteland, strewn with trash and broken glass, topped with urine soaked brick. It was an aberration built in a time of paranoia, social unrest and economic waning. It was hated from the beginning and it stands as an arrogant 9-story metaphor of fear and government failure: confusing and alienating to the people it represents. The location? Great. The building itself? Absolutely Horrible. And while were on it, the same goes for its disgusting brother down the street, the Lindeman Center. God-willing, The wrecking ball tolls for them.

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