The following letter was sent to Mr. David Forsberg, Director of Business Development for Massport, on July 30, 1998. Copies were sent to Congressman Joseph Moakley, Boston City Council President James Kelly, Senator Stephen F. Lynch and Thomas O'Brien of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, among others.
7/30/98 Mr. David Forsberg Director of Business Development Massport One Harborside Dr. Suite 200S East Boston, MA 02128
Dear Mr. Forsberg:
As you are aware from our recent meeting, the Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design represents a collective voice of Boston residents, business owners, architects and planners in the ongoing Seaport District development dialog.
We understand that Massport has stated its position relative to City zoning ordinances, development guidelines and specifically, to the forthcoming Seaport District Master Plan. It is our understanding that Massport has indicated that it is permitted to undertake commercial development projects unrelated to port or maritime activity in order to produce a revenue stream for the Authority. We also understand that Massport has entered into agreements for development of hotels, offices and similar speculative projects.
SAND is concerned with Massport's position, however we are interested in working with you to consider a plan that could achieve a broadly beneficial and satisfactory outcome.
First, let me state our main concerns:
- Development of hotels, offices and other projects at the water's edge will compromise future expansion of Massport's port and marine related activities.
- Use of public land, free of tax, zoning and other burdens, places Massport and its private business partners at a competitive advantage over other private enterprises.
- Massport developments in the Seaport District are increasingly speculative, based on cyclical tourist and office market economies. Massport's revenue projections, forecasted by hired investment consultants, have superseded proven, conservative investments that would guarantee a long-term, stable return.
- Massport is moving forward on numerous projects on the South Boston waterfront, including three office towers. By all standards, from floor-area-ratio (FAR) and water's edge setbacks to building design, these development projects exemplify inappropriate use of public waterfront property.
- To its credit, Massport has proposed a public park at Fish Pier. Nested amidst office towers akin to Post Office Square, however, this park will be vibrant for 20-30 hours per week and will not adequately serve a 7-day 24-hour district.
- Massport continues to benefit from a multi-billion dollar public investment in the harbor cleanup and seaport infrastructure, yet has reneged on its own promises to provide airport transport systems to and from the area.
- Massport has substituted a public awareness campaign in lieu of a legitimate public approval process.
Our charter at SAND is to realize a Seaport District neighborhood, with a 24-hour pedestrian character. This can be achieved with a mix of marine industrial, commercial, residential and open space elements in the plan. Massport, with a significant piece of undeveloped land, is uniquely capable of integrating all of these crucial elements.
We suggest that Massport consider the development of moderately scaled residential development projects on Commonwealth Flats, to the south of the Fidelity office towers. These units should be no higher than 85 feet and planned to accomodate a mix of market rates. Commercial retail space could be considered at street level to move pedestrian traffic to and from Parcel F and beyond.
With Massport's pursuit of a neighborhood-suited plan for Commonwealth Flats along with the park at Fish Pier, we at SAND would be able to balance our concerns about the sum of Massport activity in the Seaport District.
We are confident that public and private interests will support such a plan, and look forward to hearing from you.
Steve Hollinger Lisa Damtoft
on behalf of:
The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design