John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. has proposed its development of an 85-foot high, 300-400 room hotel in the Convention Center area currently reserved as a "buffer zone" along D Street. The company, represented by Merdedith & Grew real estate advisers, is also considering office space and market rate residential use of this parcel. The "buffer zone" was designed into the BRA's Convention Center proposal to insulate abutting D Street residences from commercial convention center related traffic.
In a statement to the Boston Globe, Vivien Li of the Boston Harbor Association commented, "Six months after the convention center legislation is passed and we're already thinking about tinkering with the buffer zone?"
South Boston officials, including City Council President Jim Kelly and State Senator Stephen F. Lynch are considering the ramifications of this proposal and are seeking comment from area residents.
SAND is committed to the development of a comprehensive Seaport District Master Plan, and the BRA has scheduled its completion of such a plan by November, 1998. Although a hotel in the buffer zone might be suited to the area if the residential neighbors agreed to its design, an early decision to change the buffer zone to a commercial zone will impact the master planning process in its ability to weave South Boston's residential community into the Seaport District neighborhood. With most of South Boston walled off by the convention center and its abutting industrial zone, D Street will be one of the only inviting throroughfares for South Boston residents to walk, bike or ride to the waterfront. The D Street buffer zone's use must be dedicated, through the master planning process, to the success of such a corridor.
Secondly, South Boston residents had demanded and have received a provision in the now-signed Convention Center legislation that prohibits hotel development South of Summer Street. This development would violate that agreement and would require an amendment to the signed legislation. Hundreds of South Boston residents had weighed in during the shaping of the original legislation, and must be assured that its integrity will not continually be reshaped by amendments.