North End Park Improvements Begin on Greenway; New Swings and Funding

Parcel 8 boxwood beds in the North End are now fenced in as part of a transformation project on the Greenway. (Photo by Matt Conti)

This week started the groundbreaking for the North End Park improvement project [See Big Improvements Coming This Spring to the North End Parks on the Greenway]. From the news release included below, the 8 new porch swings are now officially part of the project and there is a new donor, Normandy Real Estate Partners & Harbinger Development (developers of new Haymarket Hotel at Parcel 9), on top of previously committed support by the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund. Construction is expected through July 4th and will especially noticeable on Parcel 8 (north park) where the boxwood garden beds are being transformed. More project details can be found at the Greenway website project page.


$400,000 North End Park Improvement Project Begins Today on the Greenway

Significant Funding Support from the MA Cultural Facilities Fund and Parcel 9 Developers

The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy today begins a $400,000 improvement project in the North End Park on the Greenway. This project, driven by significant community input, will include upgrading the garden, replacing benches with “porch swings”, and fixing lights on the Freedom Trail. The new project is generously supported with funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) and Normandy Real Estate Partners and Harbinger Development. All work is expected to be completed by Independence Day.

Construction work begins today, starting with the renovation of a major boxwood garden on the Greenway. The Conservancy is completely replanting the westward facing garden that occupies the western third of the park between Hanover and Sudbury Streets to bring four-season interest and address failing plants. The garden design was completed in collaboration with Lynden Miller, famous for her success with the Central Park Conservatory Gardens. The contractor, A. Bonadio & Sons, is today erecting the construction fence and beginning removals. A much-anticipated component of the project is the replacement of 21 solid-metal benches that are too hot in the summer and have a chipped, weathered finish; 8 new swinging benches will hang from the pergola structure with views of the North End fountains, the new Boston Public Market, and the Custom House Tower on the skyline. Additionally, repairs throughout the North End Parks will be made, including the Freedom Trail and other lights.

“We are excited to have be able to make the North End Parks more beautiful and welcoming for those who are playing in the fountains, picnicking on the lawns, and enjoying a cannoli at the tables,” said Jesse Brackenbury, Executive Director of the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. “We are so appreciative of the support of the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund and Normandy Real Estate Partners and Harbinger Development.”

The Conservancy received a $200,000 matching CFF grant administered by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Normandy Real Estate Partners and Harbinger Development, the developers of the new Haymarket Hotel Project with up to 225 hotel rooms and 25,000 square feet of retail adjacent to the North End Park, contributed $25,000; other private funds made up the balance of the funding. Project costs include $185,000 for the garden renovation, $90,000 for the bench/swing replacement, $40,000 for lighting repairs, and $85,000 for other repairs.

“We are delighted to help make improvements on such a terrific community asset like the Greenway,” said Mark Roopenian of Normandy Real Estate Partners. “We are excited that visitors to our hotel and retail spaces, as well as nearby residents, will have beautiful gardens to walk through and first-class amenities throughout the park.”

This project has garnered significant community support. The Conservancy held a spring 2014 community meeting that informed the project. Following ongoing discussions with stakeholders and community groups, the project components and timeline were greeted enthusiastically at a February 2015 community meeting. The social media reaction to the plans for the “porch swings” was overwhelming.

“I am delighted that funding from the Commonwealth can leverage private sector support for a terrific set of Greenway improvements,” said Rep. Aaron Michlewitz. “I look forward to taking a swing on the new benches this summer.”

The Greenway’s North End Park is the front porch for the North End and a destination for visitors. Children play in the fountains, pizzas are enjoyed at the moveable tables and chairs, and sunbathers cover the lawns. Dozens of free fitness classes, the seasonal farmers market, the free Wi-Fi network, and a Little Free Library bring activity to the park. The Freedom Trail runs through the park, and many visit nearby Faneuil Hall. This summer the new Boston Public Market will open adjacent to the renovated boxwood garden.

About The Rose Kennedy Greenway and Conservancy
The Rose Kennedy Greenway is a mile-and-a-half of contemporary parks in the heart of Boston.  The Greenway is a roof garden atop a highway tunnel that connects people and the city with beauty and fun.  The non-profit Conservancy maintains, programs, and improves the Greenway on behalf of the public and in partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Greenway welcomed 1,023,000 visitors in 2014 for the events, Wi-Fi, Greenway Carousel and Mobile Eats food trucks, plus millions more who casually enjoyed the fountains, plazas, and gardens. The Conservancy has won numerous awards, including for our organic landscape care and park programming.

About the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund
The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) is an initiative of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Fund was created as part of a major economic stimulus bill that was approved by the Massachusetts Legislature in July 2006. The most recent capital budget appropriation to the Fund in FY2015 is $15 million. To date, the Fund has awarded $82.7 million in grants to 350 cultural organizations across Massachusetts. The goal of the CFF is to increase investments from both the public sector and the private sector to support the sound planning and development of cultural facilities in Massachusetts. The Fund provides Capital Grants to promote the acquisition, design, repair, rehabilitation renovation, expansion, or construction of nonprofit cultural facilities in Massachusetts. All grants from the Fund must be matched with cash contributions from the private or public sector.

About the Haymarket Hotel, Normandy Real Estate Partners, and Harbinger Development
Normandy Real Estate Partners is a leading real estate developer, operator and investment manager headquartered in Morristown, NJ with offices in Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C. Normandy’s existing portfolio includes over 15 million square feet of commercial assets, four hotels and numerous land development sites. The firm targets value added real estate investments in the gateway markets of Boston, Metro New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Harbinger Development is a Boston based real estate investment and development company.  Harbinger develops complex, urban real estate projects with a focus in Hotel mixed-use investments having completed and in current development 1,360 hotel rooms in greater Boston.  Harbinger has decades long relationships in the Boston market with professionals, the community and elected officials built on performance and trust.