A compromise development plan, disclosed at a public meeting this week, appears to be gaining support for Parcel 9, the empty triangular lot at Haymarket. The Advisory Committee arranged by Mass. Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is tasked with establishing guidelines that would be used for a “Request for Proposal” (RFP) to be issued in the Fall of 2011. The meeting was led by MassDOT’s Director of Real Estate, Peter O’Connor and MassDOT community liaison John Romano. Consultant Arthur Jemison, GLC Development, also presented various options.
The most favored option at the meeting is shown above where a lower-end on the Hanover St. side represents a market-hall concept while also maintaining views of the Blackstone block from the North End. On the side closest to Quincy Market and the Millennium Hotel, the structure would be up to 70 feet.
Haymarket pushcart vendors, represented by Ottavio Gallotto on the committee, would see significant improvements as part of the redevelopment. The pushcarts would have designated stalls with retractable awnings, electricity and lighting. Currently, vendors have to set up all their apparatus every week for the market which operates from Thursday through Saturday.
Several Haymarket vendors attended the meeting and offered general support, but also asked several questions about being moved around and other changes. Mr. Gallotto said, “We are doing this to make it better for the pushcarts, not worse.” The recent addition of new trash facilities was welcomed by the vendors. With a new development, there would be restrooms, a level street and fire lane access on Blackstone Street.
Indoor and covered space would allow some Haymarket vendors to extend their operations beyond the Thursday-Saturday schedule now in place. MassDOT has not set the fee structure for the stalls, but with more amenities and added days, it was implied the pushcarts would see higher rents in the new development structure.
In addition to improving Haymarket operations, the committee’s goals for Parcel 9 are to match the character and uses of existing structures in the surrounding market district. The development is also intended to activate the adjacent Greenway.
Victor Brogna, an Advisory Committee member and Vice-President of North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA), spoke in favor of this concept because it protects North End views of the Blackstone block. Beacon Hill’s Tad Stahl, also supported the design, subject to the lower-end encompassing at least 50% of the project’s length. NEWRA President, Stephanie Hogue and zoning chair, David Kubiak, said the plan would have more success achieving neighborhood support if the BRA would guarantee the 70’ height would not be transferable to the North End side of the Greenway where most zoning is set for 55’ high.
The development community in attendance also appeared to support the concept because it allows for greater height, up to 70 feet, on the southern section which would increase feasibility for office use. Previously, the committee was focused on a height of 55 feet for the entire parcel. According to the committee, this might support residential or specialty (i.e., health club) uses, but office space was considered marginal from an economic standpoint at today’s leasing rates.
One developer in attendance, Phil DeNormandie, was complimentary of the committee’s work as was Frank Keefe, affiliated with the Boston Museum. Keefe said, “Let’s move full-speed ahead.” There was some discussion that the taller part of the structure could use more variation in height. Both DeNormandie Companies and The Boston Museum were bidders of a previous RFP. At that time, the Haymarket pushcarts blocked a plan for residential housing because they thought it was inconsistent with the noise and smells typical in their operations. MassDOT ultimately agreed and restarted the process with a new RFP Advisory Committee.
Parcel 7 No Longer Part of RFP Process with Parcel 9
There has been a major change regarding the future of adjacent Parcel 7 where a parking garage sits on top of an empty ground floor targeted for a Local Public Market. Instead of including Parcel 7 in this RFP, MassDOT is now looking at taking the empty office space for their own use in the garage building above the Haymarket T stop. The ground floor is expected to be home to a new public market geared toward Massachusetts-based products.
David Kubiak questioned MassDOT’s decision not to include Parcel 7 with Parcel 9 for development proposals. “Not combining Parcel 7 with Parcel 9 for development proposals was a big mistake, and putting MassDOT offices into the Parcel 7 building was the biggest mistake,” commented Kubiak. An open question is whether the Haymarket vendors or the local public market will be using the outdoor sidewalk space around Parcel 7. A consultant study on the Parcel 7 Boston Public Market is in progress, although running about a month behind schedule.
With a new concept in hand for Parcel 9, MassDOT and the Advisory Committee are seeking input to inform the development guidelines. Any project would still need to go through BRA Article 80, Large Project Review and zoning approval. More information is available at www.mass.gov/dot and comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.