SAND news sources have confirmed that during the month of September the Boston Redevelopment Authority provided key developers and their financiers including Fleet Bank and BankBoston, with access to the agency's preliminary South Boston Seaport District plans and early drafts of the Master Plan to be published in November. Although the information released at these meetings has not been made public, a SAND source provided insight into the progress of the master plan.
According to this source, the BRA has responded to the demand for significant improvements to the Seaport District street layout, with tighter grids akin to neighboring communities in South Boston. This change would reduce the overall size of blocks in the district, facilitating pedestrian access from the waterfront to the inner harbor.
The BRA has rejected the proposal of the Boston Society of Architects --supported by SAND, for a development rights marketplace which would have enabled waterfront property owners to consider scaling down harborside development in exchange for compensation garnered from dense development farther from the water's edge.
The recent presentations by the BRA have shifted density slightly back from the water's edge, using Old Northern Avenue and Northern Avenue as mixed use commercial retail/hotel/office boulevards with a small luxury residential component.
The BRA's new residential development projections in the Seaport District remain at 2000-4000 units.
Comments below are provided in the context of today's news item, preliminary and unconfirmed by official sources.
SAND recognizes the BRA's improvements in these pre-release planning drafts but expects a significant increase in residential unit projections if the area is to evolve as a neighborhood and not a series of self-contained luxury towers in a retail/office/hotel district. Secondly, if the BRA does not adequately plan for residential development, the rising demand for housing by new Seaport District office tenants will result in an inflated and disruptive housing market in other South Boston neighborhoods.