Looks like the WS Development – the owner of the 12.5 acre Seaport Square site has proposed a cluster of small theaters to be built in a nearby parking lot between Summer Street and Convention Center. According the Boston Globe, WS Development is looking for support to build a 500-seat theater and two smaller theaters that will hold audiences of 100 to 150 people. No specific square footage has not been specified. Initially the Boston Planning and Development Agency Boston Planning & Development Agency, which requested the developer to include an additional 800-seat theater and an endowment to support their operations. WS has not committed to providing an endowment.
So questions are arising. Neighborhood watchdog and activist Steve Hollinger aka the Fort Pointer on twitter has voiced concerned over the fact the developer is not mentioning the initial 200,000 square foot commitment in their new proposal – there is only mention of the small cluster of theaters. According to the Globe article, Hollinger has concerns. “The history here is one of watered-down commitment.”
Other questions being raised are who will endow the theaters, ownership of public parks, and access to public facilities. State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and State Representative Nick Collins have expressed their concerns (see below) to the BPDA and wrote a letter to Michael Beaton, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Forry and Collins believes that in order for public greenspace to be truly public, ownership needs to transfers from WS Development to the Department of Conservation and Recreation. “State ownership of public greenspace is critical to ensuring access while preserving the greenspace for generations to come.”
Public comments on the Supplemental Information Report is open until October 30, 2017, and comments can be submitted by email to Michael.Rooney@Boston.Gov , or by mail to the BPDA, One City Hall Square, Boston, MA, 02201.
BOSTON– State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and State Representative Nick Collins recently submitted a joint letter to the Boston Planning and Development Agency with comments on the latest Supplemental Impact Report from the developers of Seaport Square. In the letter they call for public ownership of parks, accessible public facilities, and a public civic space, such as a library, like the original proposal included.
“Every square foot increase in retail, commercial, and office space represents a substantial value to the developers, and the question remains, how much of that value ought to be invested in the community?” wrote the pair of legislators, referring to the proponent’s request for approval of an additional 1.4 million square feet of space, or a 21% increase in publicly created value.
How exactly would that value be reinvested in the community? The legislators hope to see “truly public civic space such as a public library.” They also make a case for preservation and protection of green space through transfer of ownership to the city or state. This model has been successfully demonstrated at A Street Park, and finances capital obligations through the development itself.
The lawmakers stated goal is “to support responsible development that will foster a true community” on the South Boston Waterfront, not an exclusive. private paradise for the ultra-rich. They have also recently written letters encouraging the addition of public facilities like a fire station or police station in the burgeoning area to ensure public safety for the residents.