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The BRA today opened a public discussion in the Fort Point community, presenting plans under way for the rezoning of Fort Point’s undeveloped parcels. The agency is nearing private agreement with USPS, Gillette, BWCo. and Beacon Capital Partners on height, density and land use.
Approximately fifty small property owners, residents, waterfront advocates and stakeholders attended and offered comments. This meeting was the second of two community meetings (the first in March 2004) at which the BRA entertained a discussion regarding height, density or land use (see history below for a timeline). No large property owners were represented at this public meeting.
The meeting opened with an update on the Fort Point Open Space plan, including a look at streets and parks. As presented, and despite approximately forty five (45) Working Group and Advisory Committee meetings and a community-wide charrette to propose ideals for the public realm and greenspace in Fort Point held between 2002 and 2004, few changes have been made to the Open Space plan since its initial development by Gillette and the United States Postal Service and adoption by the BRA in June 2002 (available on the BRA website).
Open Space Plan presented by the BRA in June 2002
Source: BRA Website
Open Space and Street plan presented by the BRA in February 2004
prior to Fort Point Community Open Space Charrette
Source: BRA Website
As of May 2005, the BRA’s current Open Space Plan is nearly identical to the plans shown above from 2002 and 2004. The current BRA plan will be posted here when it is made available.
About Height, Density and Land Use
The BRA presented an update to the “conceptual” height zones last discussed at the Tynan School in March 2003.
A chart showing proposed public vs. private uses of undeveloped parcels (USPS/Gillette) was presented.
Use Acres Percent Public 21.6 59 Private 14.4 41% _______ 36
A chart showing proposed open space on USPS and Gillette parcels was presented.
Use Acres Open Space 8.4 Sidewalks 8.1 Streets 5.1 Buildings 14.4 Total 36
A chart showing proposed development was presented:
Square feet of
Gillette 1.9 USPS 3.7 BWCo. .6 Total 6.2
A chart showing proposed breakdown of land uses was presented:
Square feet of
Percent Residential 2.5 41% Office 2.1 33% Civic/R&D 1.6 26% Total 6.2
A number of comments were noted by attendees:
- The Fort Point plan presented, largely comprised of a 6 million square foot buildout divided between three categories (Residential, Office and R&D/Civic) does not resemble an urban plan for a neighborhood as projected in the Public Realm Plan and Municipal Harbor Plan. Basic amenities of a new South Boston Waterfront neighborhood (i.e. schools, police and fire stations, locations for community centers) are not accommodated in the planning process.
- The BRA has numerous tools at its disposal — including the agency’s rezoning for added height, density and land use above current restrictions, and tax incentives. A number of commenters suggested that these tools should be applied by the BRA to coordinate a comprehensive, well-defined urban plan. The BRA responded that such tools were being used to ensure that large-property owners would maintain the open space and allow private streets to become public streets.
- SAND Comment: Is is necessary to trade height, density and tax incentives in exchange for conversion of streets from private to public? As public streets, policing and maintainance would be paid for by the City of Boston instead of the property owner. Are the property owners asking for their streets to remain private?
- In the definition of Land Use, the BRA is grouping “R&D Facilities” along with Civic and Cultural uses rather than in the Office Space category.
- SAND Comment: Why is the BRA enabling private Research and Development Facilities to be included in the total percentage of Civic/Cultural facilities rather than in the total percentage of Office Space?
- A review and/or public comment period on the private Memorandum of Understanding between the BRA and large property owners will likely not be afforded to abutters, small property owners and stakeholders. The BRA responded that these parties would have an opportuntiy to comment when the agency submits a Planned Development Area Master Plan to the Zoning Commission for approval.
- SAND Comment: Can the BRA and large-property owners enter into a private agreement regarding height, density and land use without the review or comment of impacted abutters, residents, small property owners and stakeholders?
- Although stated objectives for new residential are high, actual available space on the Waterfront is diminishing, missing BRA projections by thousands of units (read SAND study). Concerns about new residential growth were also raised with regard to impacts on manufacturing uses (i.e. Gillette).
- Height and Density of infill and new construction between historic buildings does not seem to respect the integrity of the Fort Point (nationally recognized as a Historic District, and under consideration as a Boston Landmark District). Click here to view a 3D model of proposed new construction.
- Open Space plans do not reflect input from the Fort Point Planning Charrette (held by the BRA in February 2004).
- SAND Comment: Why were (45) Fort Point Advisory Committee and Fort Point Working Group planning meetings largely focused on Open Space, and a Fort Point Community Charrette hosted by the BRA — with no apparent impact on the planning process?
Timeline of Fort Point Planning as of 5/31/05
The following timeline is provided to illustrate that the Fort Point and greater South Boston communities have had only two opportunities to engage in discussions regarding height, density and land use with the Boston Redevelopment Authority -- once in March of 2003 at the Tynan School and once last night at a meeting at Artist for Humanities in Fort Point.
On 5/31/05, the BRA hosted a public forum for the benefit of the Fort Point community. This meeting was the first public meeting held by the BRA regarding the Fort Point planing process in 11 months (since July of 2004). This meeting was the second of two community meetings held in South Boston over the past two years in which the agency entertained an open discussion of land use, height or density on Fort Point’s undeveloped parcels. The first such meeting occurred in March 2004 at the Tynan School.
In December 2003 and January 2004, the BRA presented "conceptual" plans for three height zones in Fort Point to the Fort Point Advisory Committee in two meetings (click here for more info). These “conceptual” height zones were presented in March 2004 to residents of Fort Point and greater South Boston at a community meeting held at the Tynan School.
Approximately 20 meetings of the Fort Point Advisory Commitee (2003-present) and approximately 25 meetings of the Fort Point Working Group (2001-2003) focused on public realm (streets, sidewalks, parks) and traffic issues -- with the exception of initial, introductory presentations by large property owners and SAND in 2001.
Your comments as a visitor to the SAND website would be appreciated and forwarded for discussion.