In today's Boston Herald, City Council President James Kelly discussed his view in opposition to development of a new Seaport District "neighborhood." Although the Boston Globe has previously suggested that Councilor Kelly initially objected to residential development due to a potential change in South Boston's voter demographics, Councilor Kelly explains that what South Boston needs in the district is not new residents, but rather the protection and creation of blue-collar jobs through hotels and expansion of manufacturing and maritime sectors.

To read the full text of the Boston Herald, click here

SAND Comment

SAND's members and supporters have worked dilligently since the release of the initial BRA Master Plan to achieve the objective of a Seaport District neighborhood. We envision that a neighborhood would enable the waterfont area to be developed while still maintaining a true character -- one that could be woven into the existing neighboring communities. We have met with many constituencies, including the South Boston leadership, the maritime industrial port tenants, the property owners and their developers, all in a quest to understand how the Seaport District might best serve a wide variety of interests.

We understand that the idea of new residential development is a delicate issue. South Boston residents are concerned that the existing community will be affected by Seaport District development -- from rental rates to affordable housing and job prospects. The concerns are very real, especially considering the conditions that have already drastically impacted the people of South Boston, creating a fear that the long-held sense of community is being threatened.

But here are some facts worthy of consideration:

  • With a transit infrastructure (Silver Line, Artery) and Convention Center in the works, Seaport District development will continue to move forward and will not remain idle.
  • Massport is already constructing two 200+ foot office towers. Commitments for occupancy of these office towers are already in place (WTC, Fidelity, etc.).
  • The Convention Center will require hotel development to be fast-tracked. Hotels will spur other office projects and service-related businesses in the Seaport District.
  • Based on development goals for hotel/office/retail projects, 30,000 and 50,000 new jobs are projected in the Seaport District.

Clearly, with the office projects already under way (no longer on the public drawing board), the Seaport District will serve a new, and fairly dense working population -- many of whom will not be living in South Boston at the time of their arrival into the waterfront area.

This new office population will certainly be considering occupancy options. Where will they live?

If the Seaport District is not a neighborhood in and of itself, South Boston will be the choice for many new arrivals into the waterfront -- that is what will change South Boston demographics. In fact, the impact of recent interest in the Seaport District is already driving up the housing and rental markets in South Boston. Rental averages have doubled over the past 5 years and have increased 50% over the past 2 years.

SAND will continue to work with Councilor Kelly and fellow South Boston residents to better understand the concerns about neighborhood development.