At a BRA Municipal Harbor Plan meeting yesterday, State Senator Lynch and members of the South Boston Neighborhood Design Advisory Committee (SBNDAC) unveiled a new proposal for improvement of the Fan Pier project. The proposal suggests a single major change -- that a signature park be created at the foot of the Fan Pier cove, with potential as a green corridor to extend through McCourt property alongside the MBTA station and perhaps onward towards the Convention Center. To acommodate this park, Fan Pier planners would be required to remove or relocate an office tower and a small number of luxury condos now occupying the site.
Senator Lynch stressed the importance of open space if residents and visitors were to feel welcome on the waterfront. The SBNDAC proposal explored the potential for the cove parcel, reserving further consideration of the project the remaining 15-18 acres of Fan Pier development,
At this presentation, the SBNDAC's plan was received (by those in attendance who elected to comment) with a mix of enthusiasm and interest. A number of advocacy groups and Municipal Harbor Plan committee members, including the Conservation Law Foundation, the Boston Natural Areas Fund and the Boston Society of Architects expressed appreciation that the plan (and the SBNDAC) upheld their longstanding positions that Fan Pier lacked sufficient recreational greenspace. These groups, and a host of community members including SAND, have advocated for a significant park on Fan Pier for a number of years -- but greenspace concerns have largely been rebuffed by the Fan Pier developers.
A representative of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay* questioned the value of a waterfront park on Fan Pier that would have a limited seasonal use. This question of the viability of a waterfront park was countered by SBNDAC Chair Bob O'Shea who asked committee members to consider other waterfront parks including Castle Island -- wonderfully vibrant acreage on which residents meet, walk dogs and play touch football throughout the colder months.
A representative of the Boston Real Estate Board on the Municipal Harbor Plan Advisory Committee stated that the work of this particular committee was to plan the MHP as it related to Chapter 91 regulations, with limited oversight of specific proposals.
Representatives of the McCourt Co. were in attendance but did not comment on the SBNDAC plan. The company has submitted its own proposal, also suggesting an increase in Fan Pier open space, as well as decreased density. This proposal is in an earlier stage of consideration for City and State permitting than the Pritzker's Fan Pier project.
The BRA did not state a position on the SBNDAC presentation at this meeting. Although the Wednesday Boston Herald suggested that the BRA was not considering the plan, BRA Director of Planning and Development Linda Haar did indicate at the MHP meeting that the agency is working with Sen. Lynch and the SBNDAC to consider the merits of this plan.
Within hours of the unveiling of the SBNDAC plan for Fan Pier, the Fan Pier development team rejected the plan and stated to the Boston Herald that "No major changes at this stage in the project are feasible." (This statement counters recent statements by the Pritzker family, published in the Boston Globe, indicating that changes to the Fan Pier plan were still possible.)
The developer's resistance to change is consistent with the project's history -- no major inroads have been made in reducing density or significantly increasing greenspace since the Fan Pier plan's first detailed unveiling in January 1999.
* Save the Harbor / Save the Bay has already formally expressed its support as a proponent of the Pritzker proposal.
To read more about the SBNDAC proposal, click here.
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