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Impact Advisory Group Supports New Dock Square Garage Plans

The Impact Advisory Group (IAG) assigned to the dock square garage project reacted positively to recent changes made to the proposal in a discussion at the IAG’s Wednesday night meeting.

Developers appeared before the IAG to discuss changes they made to the plans for the Dock Square Garage since the last time they met several months ago.

Rendering of what the building will look like from City Hall.

The plan is to build a seven-story, 220,000 square-foot addition on top of the current garage and add 30,000 square feet of residential space to the lower floors. The original plans called for a 209-foot tall building, but have now been reduced to 160 feet tall.

Proponents are also adding more green space around the perimeter of the building and retail space on the side facing the Greenway.

The new changes delighted the IAG.

“This is a huge improvement from what we saw before,” said Marc Margulies, Founder of Margulies Perruzzi Architects. “This is more elegant.”

Others said the new plans better frame Faneuil Hall Marketplace and will complement the neighborhood.

Project Manager Michael Sinatra said the team is currently working on a mitigation project for the area. They are considering working with the Greenway to help develop more public art spaces; however, specifics still need to be figured out.

Not everyone was happy about the changes. Resident Victor Brogna was alarmed to hear the new building will block the view of the Custom House Tower from Haymarket.

“I’m against it,” he said. “This shouldn’t happen.” 

View from Clinton Street.

He was also worried about parking for patrons of Faneuil Hall. There are currently about 650 public parking spaces and the new development will use 150 to 200 of those spaces for residents. 

“We need frequent turnover.,” said Brogna. “I am surprised we think we need fewer parking spots for that.”

Margulies suggested the new development have some sort of signage for tourists on where they are and places they could easily get to, especially the Harbor.

“I would like to encourage consideration for signage for people to learn where they are standing in terms of historical aspects, but also how they can get to different points in the city,” he said.

Developers stated they are already considering the idea.

The comment period for the project ends on February 22. Comments can be submitted here: www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/dock-square-garage.

11 Replies to “Impact Advisory Group Supports New Dock Square Garage Plans

  1. We spent a load of money on OPENING UP the sky and turning an eyesore into a treasure at the Greenway. Why is the city then letting this be walled off by these developments. They keep continuing and soon the only sky visible will be directly above the park as the entire area is in shadow for much of the day.

  2. Very sad, indeed. In the middle of nowhere, and this ugly creature appears. We will be living in the shadows before long. I find it amazing that this project went through with a modicum of fanfare.

  3. People: the only way we can stop these developers with deep pockets is in the ballot box. Get rid of these Boston pol’s who are in bed with these companies, feeding them campaign funds. Marty and Charlie – you have to go, go go! Boston, known for it’s history and old bldgs is now becoming a contemporary LA

  4. Impact Advisory Committees are official rubber stamps of the BRA. Those “renditions” by developers’ architects are an insult, a flagrant con-job. Mary, Heather and RC are right on!

  5. You are so right, RC. The Mayor runs the BRA and appoints all of the members of its Board. There is no longer respect by City Hall or the State House for history. We are losing the historical resources and character that have been key visitor attractions and economic engines for this city and state for decades, and can be enjoyed by ALL. They are what has distinguished Boston from other major cities for visitors, scholars and many of us who call this city home. We need to have a long overdue discussion of what is most important as this city grows and modernizes, not just discussions of developers’ plans, parcel by parcel. The BRA has shown itself to be incapable of leading this discussion.

  6. Respect for history was thrown out the window the second that Victor Brogna’s generation allowed highways and urban renewal programs to destroy 2/3 of Boston’s downtown. Don’t pretend that adding seven stories to an existing monstrosity is somehow destroying Boston. Also, please do your research Mary, Heather, RC, Robert Skole, and David A. Kubiak: the only historic buildings that still remain in the immediate vicinity of the Dock Square Garage are the Faneuil Hall market buildings and a few buildings around Creek Square. Hundreds of buildings were torn down within just a one-block radius of the Dock Square Garage so that suburbanite drivers could speed into and out of downtown Boston and because the City’s Planning Board–which eventually merged with the BRA–deemed neighborhoods like the North End, Scollay Square, and the West End slums.

    The existing Dock Square Garage footprint occupies what was once three entire city blocks of historic buildings. Why isn’t Victor Brogna arguing to have the garage torn down and the original blocks replaced? That wouldn’t be financially feasible but it would certainly be more admirable of an argument. Instead, he’s concerned about drivers being able to find a place to park in what were once the densest neighborhoods in America. And yes, this residential pop-up will block more of the view of the Custom House Tower, but while some buildings go up, others have come down, such as the wholesale buildings that were torn down to create Christopher Columbus Park and the beautiful views of the tower from there.

    Downtown Boston was already being destroyed 70 years ago for drivers. It should be a place for people, not cars, which is exactly what this development will do. Opposing this project makes you callous, not a true North Ender.

  7. Mr. Devillers,
    Please don’t mischaracterize disapproval for the latest version of this misguided project and then use it as an excuse to disrespect long time residents of the North End who are painfully aware of Boston’s long history of destroying neighborhooods in the name of progress, urban renewal, or now developer plans to “activate” historic open spaces. The scale of the proposed high rise condo is totally out of propotion for this site, and should be reduced to below the 125 foot guidelines, if not abandoned altogether. Being a newcomer to Boston, you are probably unaware that it was “Victor Brogna’s generation” that halted the City’s plans to “redevelop” the North End in the same way that the West End was paved over.

  8. Dan G,

    What is misguided about this project? It is adding housing, it is attempting to beautify the exterior of an otherwise hideous structure, it is adding retail bays where there currently are none, it is decreasing the number of parking spaces in a walkable area that should not be accommodating the use of private vehicles, and it will help to activate what are currently three blocks of negative space that people do not dwell in but rather just hurry through.

    In my opinion, the scale of the existing structure is totally out of proportion for that site, but unfortunately, it already exists and is too profitable to be torn down for better uses. So I would rather that the structure be beautified and slimmed down by enabling it to grow in height than let it remain ugly, fat, and squat. Height limits serve very little real purpose in this day and age and, as such, are arbitrary limitations to overall change, generally at the discretion of a few naysayers who have the time to attend meetings and submit complaints. Should the buildings on Salutation Street be taller than they already are? No. But now that the narrow streets such as Cross, Ferry, and North Centre–with their homes, shops, and warehouses–have been completely erased from the 450-foot-long swath of land directly north of the existing Garage, it makes sense to enclose the space more so than it currently is. Adequate enclosure is what makes an urban space successful, e.g. Salem Street versus Tremont Street along the Common. I agree that some of the Greenway was designed well and is very fun and inviting during the warmer months, but I don’t agree that adding seven stories to an existing 6-story garage is going to “wall off” the park or put us “in shadows before long.”

    I also don’t see how my comments are at all disrespectful relative to yours. I am simply stating that there are residents (and non-residents) who are constantly antagonistic and stubborn because they don’t want change even though this neighborhood hasn’t stopped changing since 1630. You are stating that I am not a long-time resident and that, because I am a newcomer to Boston, I don’t know the history of the city and neighborhood as well as you do. Although I may not have lived during that era, I have done my share of research on the topic from all perspectives. Have you or the other commenters looked into how this development will transform Clinton, North, and Surface Road from all perspectives? Or are you simply concerned with a particular view that you enjoy today that mostly likely did not exist prior to the demolition of the southern North End for the elevated Central Artery?

  9. The proposed Dock Square Garage project is better than what is on the site today. But whatever is built on that site will be there much longer than any of us. We need to plan and build for the future, and the standard of “better than what is there now” isn’t necessarily good enough for a site is downtown Boston that is literally surrounded by recognized Boston Landmarks (the U.S. Custom House, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, and the Blackstone Block, as well as the North Market and South Market Buildings which are pending Boston Landmarks) and borders the historic North End. This area comprises one of the most important historical areas in the country.

    The Dock Square project, as currently proposed, preserves above grade parking at a cost to these neighboring historic resources in terms of its impacts on view sheds and its continued blocking of connections between historic resources and active areas. Above grade parking is one of the worst uses imaginable of such an important piece of the historic Boston waterfront. If parking were moved below grade (yes, there is a cost to this), there would be more surface space for active uses, including open space, and much more space for valuable development (retail, residential, etc.) and there would not need to be a “block on a block”, creating design potential for a unique above grade building. With a more varied, less blocky, above grade structure, height might have less of an impact on the historic fabric of the area. Think Rowes Wharf and Post Office Square, a couple of the most timeless developments in the City, where parking is underground allowing the surface to be fully activated with open space (Post Office Square) and almost every use imaginable, including open space (Rowes Wharf).

    Eliminating above grade parking for the Dock Square would increase costs, but could the increased value of the project, and in particular the long-term value, at least compare for that? Has any alternative that does not preserve above grade parking been seriously considered?

  10. The Alliance strongly opposes this proposal. Kirsten’s points are spot-on. This site is surrounded by some of Boston’s, and the nation’s, most historic buildings and places. It deserves the most thoughtful and sensitive development possible, which is not what we see in this proposal. More about our advocacy and our letter to the BPDA can be found here: http://www.bostonpreservation.org/advocacy-project/dock-square-garage

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