Tonight, at a meeting at South Boston's Fish Pier, the BRA and planning team of Cooper Robertson presented a broad overview of elements of the forthcoming Seaport District Master Plan scheduled for official release on January 4th and slated for publication in late January.
Cooper Robertson presented a birds-eye view of the entire South Boston waterfront, introducing the mix of uses that would meet the needs of its varied constituencies. Painting broad strokes rather than specific details of the plan, the presentation concentrated mainly on general relationships between residential areas, commercial areas and mixed-use areas. Transit systems, water activity, and open space were also discussed.
The preview envisioned residential development with a mix of affordabilities on either side of the Convention Center, in the Fort Point Channel and D Street areas, mixed residential and commercial in the western inner harbor and Fan Pier, and heavier commercial density between the Convention Center and World Trade Center. A significant portion of the discussion focused on activation of the waterfront edges, including Harborwalk attractions, ferry terminals and other seaside projects.
Audience comments, a number of which stressed the concerns of South Boston residents, focused on protections for the Marine Industrial Park and the creation of affordable housing in South Boston to alleviate market pressures. Other comments reflected a desire for the public discussion to continue once the Master Plan was finalized.
SAND members have been especially supportive of BRA plans to expand the concept of "community" into the South Boston waterfront rather than to plan for a strictly commercial district.
Having recently attended other preview presentations by Cooper Robertson, including a meeting at South Boston's Gavin School on December 1st, SAND members have been aware of many of the elements presented at tonight's preview. Our comments, based on our ongoing discussions regarding the Cooper Roberston work, is fairly well represented by a December 8th letter from SAND to BRA Director Tom O'Brien (published below). We expect that a number of concerns reflected at the meeting and in this letter will be resolved in the BRA Master Plan and during the new year.
- Mr. Thomas O' Brien
- The Boston Redevelopment Authority
- One City Hall Square
- Boston, MA 02201
Dear Mr. O' Brien:
We of the Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design support recent BRA efforts regarding the planning of a significant residential component within the South Boston waterfront. We look forward to seeing these plans formalized as part of the forthcoming BRA South Boston Seaport District Master Plan.
We have long advocated for the planning of a neighborhood in the Seaport District. We recognize that the investment and attention of thousands of residents - rather than the accomodation of a limited number of interests, will ensure that the area evolves and sustains itself as do all Boston neighborhoods. We also recognize the intense need for housing in the Seaport District to alleviate existing pressures on the South Boston community.
It is especially encouraging for us to hear that your office will plan for a mix of affordabilities and building scales throughout the Seaport District. Upscale residential condo projects and residential towers tend to be insular, protecting and separating the occupants from the outside world while mixed-use and smaller scale dwellings create pedestrian activity as its occupants require closer integration with local area services. All wonderful neighborhoods in Boston have a mix of uses and an inviting diversity of populations.
Of course, as we eagerly anticipate the publication of the Seaport District Master Plan, some concerns remain. Notably:
- South Boston residents have expressed important health and quality of life issues including affordable housing, pollution and traffic.
- The Fort Point Artists' Community -while providing valuable caché and character to the City of Boston, is falling prey to rising market demand for Fort Point office space.
- The Marine Industrial Park's survival is at a critical point and must be protected from further encroachment by real-estate speculators.
- Public open and recreational space must be a priority in Seaport District planning. The Master Plan must not include waterways (as recommended by Cooper/Robertson), parking lots, or privately regulated areas in calculations of public open space.
- Development heights and densities must reflect a relationship with Boston harbor and neighboring communities.
- Public process and the adherence of property owners, Massport, the MBTA and Masspike to the BRA Master Plan will certainly be major issues as we enter the next phase of development.
SAND members appreciate your efforts over the past year towards improving the Master Plan. We look forward to working with you in the months to come.
- Steve Hollinger
- On behalf of:
- The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND)
cc: SAND Membership
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