The State, through its MassDOT transportation agency, is currently considering two final proposals for designation at Parcel 9 along the Greenway near Haymarket.
- Blackstone Market (Cresset Group & DeNormandie Cos.) – 70 rental housing units, 9 stories high, at North Street with up to 3 restaurants on second floor, community room, a first floor retail market and a green roof. Designed by Utile Inc. Blackstone Market Proposal Addendum 3 (large pdf)
- Haymarket Square (Normandy Partners & Jones Lang LaSalle) – 180-room hotel, 8 stories high, with a public winter garden, market hall, retail space, pushcart operation space, community room and restaurant. Designed by Perkins + Hill. Haymarket Square Hotel Proposal Addendum 3 (large pdf)
The Boston Globe printed a view by columnist Paul McMorrow on May 14, 2013 strongly in favor of a Blackstone Market, touting its Liberty Wharf-like restaurant attributes. He says that opposition by some North Enders is “out of line.”
Liberty Wharf has diners flocking to the Seaport, and large-scale redevelopment efforts chasing close behind. It’s an unquestioned success story. And in this success, a group of North End neighbors see a future to fear, and oppose. The developer behind Liberty Wharf is trying to drop a similar project along the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, on a small, triangular sliver of land called Parcel 9. Efforts by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to unload the parcel now center around the question of making the Greenway look more like the Seaport — a magnet for residents and visitors alike, and ripe for follow-on development efforts. This being Boston, there’s vocal opposition to those selling points.
Other supporters of Blackstone Market include all but one of the members of the joint Parcel 7 & 9 Advisory Committee that submitted an exhaustive 15-page letter. (Read full Advisory Committee letter here in pdf form).
Opposing the Liberty Wharf restaurant concept at Parcel 9 to instead support the Haymarket Square Hotel is one member of the Advisory Committee. Victor Brogna, 20-year resident and current Vice-President of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association, submitted his own comment letter, disagreeing with the Advisory Committee’s assessment, particularly on the restaurant issue:
The entire upper floor of the two-story market hall under the Blackstone Market’s proposal would be devoted to restaurants. At the public meeting on March 20, 2013, we learned that the restaurants would contain 400 to 500 seats. In my earlier letter I explained in detail the negative impacts which would inevitably occur to the North End/Waterfront neighborhood from the influx of tourists which a restaurant destination of such size would produce. My earlier letter is on file with MassDOT and there is no need for me to repeat here what was said. I add to those words the advice contained in the January 2009 Boston Market District Feasibility Study produced for the BRA by Project for Public Spaces (PPS), where it was stated on page 13:
“While tourists would expect to be drawn to a public market, they can also have a destructive impact. Pike Place Market [in Seattle] is so clogged with tourists that many locals avoid the market, and the number of farmers has declined significantly.”
…. Therefore, on the relevant aspects of the restaurant issue as described above, the Blackstone Market proposal exhibits substantial weakness and the Haymarket Hotel proposal exhibits substantial strength.
There are plenty more comment letters split between the two proposals and include a gambit of interested parties. You can read them all at this pdf link.
Interestingly, Mr. Brogna is joined in his opposition to the Blackstone Market proposal by Jerry Riccio, owner of several longtime North End cafes and restaurants including Caffe Vittoria and Gennaro’s 5 North Square.
As for the North End’s elected officials, they wrote a joint letter of support for the Blackstone Market. The letter included State Senator Anthony Petruccelli, State Representative Aaron Michlewitz and City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina.
A list of supporters for each project is as follows (not including postcards):
In Favor of Blackstone Market:
- Parcels 7 & 9 Advisory Committee (with the exception of member Victor Brogna)
- State Senator Anthony Petruccelli, State Representative Aaron Michlewitz and City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina
- Haymarket Pushcart Association
- Walter “Budge” Upton, Upton + Partners
- Dillon Vassallo, North End resident
- Steven Castraberti, Prince Pizza
- Doreen Merola, North End resident
- Kara Crow, North End resident
- Jim Borys
- Deborah Trainor
In Favor of Haymarket Square Hotel:
- Victor Brogna, Member of the Parcels 7 & 9 Advisory Committee and NEWRA Vice-President
- Jerry Riccio, Caffe Vittoria, Stanza dei Sigari, Florentine Cafe, Gennaro’s 5 North Square Restaurant and Downtown Realty Professionals LLC
- Paul Ballantine, North End resident
- Patricia and Armand Thiboutot, North End residents
- Elizabeth Ryan, North End resident
- Kate Sciacca, North End resident
- Barbara Cusack, North End resident
- Local 103 (Electrical Workers Union)
- Robert Caparella, 213 Hanover St. owner
- Susannah Ross, North End resident
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
- Adam Travel Services, 120 Blackstone Street
- Stephanie Hogue, North End resident
- Unite Here! Local 26
The comment period has now expired. MassDOT is expected to make a final designation shortly, but has not committed to a decision date.