To read SAND comments of June 1999, click here.
To read SAND comments of January 1999, click here.
To read SAND comments of November 1998, click here.
To read SAND comments of October 1998, click here.
To read SAND filing of February 1998 (old Fan Pier plan), click here.
To read SAND filing of January 1998 (old Fan Pier plan), click here.
11/9/99 ..... Click here to view perspectives of the Fan Pier model.
At a presentation last evening by the Fan Pier planning team, the South Boston Residents Group registered unified and vocal criticism of the 21-acre hotel, office and condo proposal -- now days away from an official filing with the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Spaulding & Slye President Daniel O'Connell, and project representative Kyle Warwick spoke on behalf of the Pritzker/Hyatt owned project.
In general, widespread criticism reflected the community's anguish in the fact that the project offered no on-site attraction for families in middle or lower income levels -- no non-luxury housing opportunites, no significant greenspace, and a patronizing community process that, despite repeated calls for these amenities and a reduction in towering heights and density, resulted in the developer increasing density to over 3 million square feet.
The height and density of towers lining the South Boston waterfront, ranging from a minimum of 143' to 298 feet and varying sharply from existing Boston zoning and state Chapter 91 regulations governing waterfront heights and setbacks, received a vocal stream of opposition.
Spaulding & Slye responded to criticisms of height and density by presenting the audience with only two options -- either 150 foot squat buildings (like the Federal Courhouse), or 300 foot towers with squat bases and narrowing at higher elevations. These two options assumed no change in total density, illustrating clearly to the well-informed audience that the planners would not reduce density to satisfy the community despite Mr. O'Connell's repeated and vacant assurances of "whatever the community wants."
Another criticism commonly repeated at last evening's presentation (often stated by SAND and numerous waterfront advocates at Fan Pier planning sessions) hilighted the project's lack of significant greenspace. The developer suggested that families would enjoy the Federal Courthouse park (handouts incorrectly suggested open greenspace on one Courthouse parcel which is actually completely landscaped with bushes, and another Courthouse parcel that is under heavy guard and surveillance camera). Other topics of concern included the a lack of jobs, training and labor commitments to the ready South Boston workforce.
Regarding the function and mix of the towers (office, hotel, condo), community members restated concerns that the uses were all benefit to affluent and tourists, but not to average Boston families.
No audience members or political leaders present rose in praise of the project. Although South Boston union leaders were expected to support the project for its creation of construction jobs -- none were present in support of the project.
SAND entered the Fan Pier planning process optimistically, hosting the earlier Fan Pier consulting team of Urban Strategies and developing a sense of progress with this group.
The project evolved far away from the initial principles illustrated to SAND by Urban Strategies. Since, SAND has been a harsh critic of the Fan Pier project, noting on many occasions that the plan will create a private commercial enclave if there are not opportunities on-site for the neighboring community to feel a sense of integration. Although supporters of the Fan Pier plan weigh in on the side of "market demand" when defending waterfront office towers and other (perhaps questionable) ideals, it is the taxpayers who funded the infrastructure, harbor activation and convention center that made this long-vacant parcel viable for development.
SAND's suggestions over past years (see history below) included adequate open greenspace - enabling a family to throw a blanket down and have a harborside picnic without having to dine at an exclusive cafe. Another suggestion was to provide more housing and less office space -- ensuring that the area had a full-time vibrant life. The developer's plans include only a small tidal pool and a fishing pier as the non-commercial attraction of the site, and only 450 units of housing -- all condos and rentals on the waterfront edge for maximum luxury accomodation.
The South Boston residents have continually noted to Fan Pier planners that neighborhood ideals (housing, greenspace, business opportunity) should be a component of the Fan Pier plan on site, yet planners continue to disregard these requests, offering off-site benefits, for example (last night) just over $10 million paid over 12 years for creation of off-site affordable housing units. Off-site benefits have been viewed -- and verbalized repeatedly last night -- by South Boston residents as an attempt to "buy off" the community.
The Fan Pier team has maximized commercial opportunity using questionable assumptions, now expecting the Municipal Harbor Plan to exempt them from legal challenges. The team noting that they could move a hotel tower within 50 feet of the water's edge because they had a larger-than-required setback on buildings adjacent to the tidal pool. The team noted that they have 50% open space, yet include paved streets and sidewalks in the open space calculation. The team notes that heights average 150 feet, yet only one of eight buildings are below 150 feet. And the planning representative had the audacity to state that these assumptions were in the "spirit" of waterfront regulations.
One would think that the "spirit" of Massachusetts waterfront regulations would shape a Fan Pier project that welcomed throngs of Boston residents to its waterfront, not a walled enclave amenable only to office workers, shoppers and tourists.
Your comments as a visitor to the SAND website would be appreciated and forwarded for discussion.