Real Estate

Parcel 9 Comment Letters Favor “Market Square” by Upton + Partners

"Market Square" Rendering - Upton + Partners with CBT Architects

The comments are “in” regarding the four proposed developments for Parcel 9 and there appears to be a broad, but not exclusive, edge of support given to the “Market Square” rental housing and “Eataly” concept proposed by Upton + Partners. The upper levels of “Market Square” include residential rental units with the lower section focusing on an Italian-themed market and eatery and a 3-story ‘square’ on the corner of Hanover and Blackstone Streets. The developer is also proposing a contribution of $2.1 million of public improvements to benefit the Haymarket Pushcart Association operations. Of the four proposals submitted, Upton + Partners is the only new entrant since last year’s failed process that did not achieve a designation for the triangular parcel along the Greenway. The four proposals presented include:

  • Boston Museum – Civic, cultural and historical Boston-focused museum with education and meeting spaces, store, cafe and marketplace on the ground floor. (Presentation Video)
  • Blackstone Market (Cresset & DeNormandie) – 50 rental housing units at North Street with three large restaurants on second floor, a first floor market and a green roof/agricultural center. (Presentation Video)
  • Haymarket Square Hotel (Normandy Partners) – 180-room hotel with 2-story public winter garden, a ground market, HPA and retail space, top floor restaurant and rooftop garden. (Presentation Video)
  • Market Square (Upton + Partners) – 119 rental apartments, Italian-themed “Eataly” food markets/eateries on first floor and 3-story “Market Square” extension near Hanover Street. (Presentation Video)

Among the submissions, comment letters were written by the official Parcel 7 & 9 Advisory Committee as well as the three surrounding neighborhoods, North End, Beacon Hill and West End. Property owner, MassDOT, is expected to consider the comments and make a final designation in the coming months. None of the letters make a formal recommendation, but rather list pros and cons, along with focus points for consideration. Still, there are some distinguishing remarks in each of the documents that glean various preferences.

Perhaps the most important, but least differentiating, submittal is by the Parcel 7 & 9 Advisory Committee itself. If we crudely count the number of pros/cons, however, the committee appears to favor the Market Square proposal by Upton + Partners with the most “strengths” and the least number of “weaknesses.” The letter certainly does not appear to support the Boston Museum proposal.

Boston Museum – 2 strengths, 6 weaknesses
Blackstone Market (Cresset & DeNormandie) – 3 strengths, 5 weaknesses
Haymarket Square (Normandy Partners) – 5 strengths, 5 weaknesses
Market Square Proposal (Upton + Partners) – 5 strengths, 3 weaknesses

(Ed: Each pro/con bullet point is obviously not intended to hold equal weight and the authors may rightfully object to this crude analysis. I highly encourage readers to examine the letter as it was presented. But let’s be blunt, everyone wants to know which proposal garnered the most support.)

Read full letter by Parcel 7 & 9 Advisory Committee (pdf).

From the North End / Waterfront Community,
a joint letter was submitted by members of the North End Central Artery Advisory Committee, the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association, the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council, the ABCD North End / West End Neighborhood Service Center along with some individual residents.

Our comments begin with a listing of what we believe to be overarching goals and considerations for any development at Parcel 9 and, for that matter, any development within the City of Boston’s designated Market District, a once seamless part of our neighborhood with which we continue to share an historical identity, as well as future aspirations. … We then identify what we perceive are the key strengths and weaknesses of each of the four Parcel 9 proposals.

The North End / Waterfront community joint letter appears to favor the housing-based, Upton + Partners “Market Square” proposal, based also on an admittedly crude interpretation of counting pros versus cons.

Boston Museum – 3 strengths, 9 weaknesses
Blackstone Market (Cresset & DeNormandie) – 6 strengths, 7 weaknesses
Haymarket Square Hotel (Normandy Partners) – 8 strengths, 8 weaknesses
Market Square (Upton + Partners) – 10 strengths, 6 weaknesses

Notably, the North End / Waterfront community letter does not take objection to the proposed height over 55 feet, a limit typically associated with the neighborhood’s zoning and character. As part of the RFP process, a compromise on the advisory committee was reached to allow the far side of the development to go higher in favor of a lower section closer to the North End that would preserve more views of the historic Blackstone Street from the neighborhood.

Read the North End / Waterfront Community Joint Letter (pdf).

The Downtown North Association also appears to favor the “Market Square” proposal of Upton + Partners:

While all of the Parcel 9 submissions acknowledge the larger district and community context to some extent, the Parcel 9 submission that most fully addressed those issues and opportunities is the Market Square proposal of Upton + Partners – and it did so strongly and explicitly in both in its written proposal and its public presentation.

Read full letter by the Downtown North Association (pdf).

As with the other proposals, the Beacon Hill Civic Association letter does not make a formal recommendation. Regarding the “Market Square” proposal, it recognizes the “residential accommodation” and its commitment to the required Blackstone Street market improvements. However, it objects to Upton + Partners project design and focus as a destination attraction for tourists.

The “Eataly” concept … constitutes a destination attraction for tourists, and as such, conflicts with the primary mission of the district. … In New York, Eataly was named one of the top five destinations by the New York Times and is attracting 20,000 visitors and 3,000 diners per day. This concept, explicitly acknowledges the longstanding influence of the North End and its history while promoting stylized competition. … The design of the project fails to attain the integrity and simplicity which so defines the character of its surroundings, and might have been located anywhere.

Read full letter by the Beacon Hill Civic Association (pdf).

For reference, the four Parcel 9 proposals are linked below:

More on the Parcel 9 development process (including proposal videos).

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