17 Farnsworth | Seaport

BeeLine

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xec

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I'm starting to worry that the lab spatial density in Bos/Camb is reaching a saturation point the spacetime continuum can't support and the whole metro area will collapse into a lab hole from which not even a virus can escape.
 

NorthshoreCity

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I can't tell from the article preview/paywall - is this a teardown of the existing garage w/ a new build, conversion of the existing garage to lab space, or an addition of lab space on top of the existing garage a la 22 Boston Wharf Road?
 

BeeLine

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I can't tell from the article preview/paywall - is this a teardown of the existing garage w/ a new build, conversion of the existing garage to lab space, or an addition of lab space on top of the existing garage a la 22 Boston Wharf Road?
I took it as a teardown and new build.
 

stellarfun

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The Fransworth St. garage has 361 spaces. Apparently, visitors to the Children's Museum use it extensively. I suspect some/most of those spaces will be preserved, for the same reason Chiofaro proposes to retain most of the parking capacity of the Harbor Garage. 'Public' benefit for a key, non-profit visitor attraction.
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And directly across the street, this:
There will be a City of Boston Abutters Meeting for proposed changes to 12 - 22 Farnsworth (most popularly known as the building housing Flour Bakery) on:

Monday, January 10, 2022

6:30 pm
View Meeting Broadcast via Facebook
View Meeting Presentation

In the last quarter of 2021,12 Farnsworth, a six story 59,146-square-foot office/retail property, and adjacent parking lot (11 Sleeper St) sold to San Diego-based Phase 3 Real Estate Partners who plans to convert the office building to Life Sciences labs and offices.

The proposal includes additional roof mechanical equipment related to Life Sciences and slight changes to loading dock, utility upgrades, interior renovations to floors 2 through 6. The restaurant space, Flour Bakery, will remain.

The site is subject to Groundwater Trust Overlay District and Land Subject to Coastal Storm Flowage under Boston Wetlands Protection Ordinance administered by the Boston Conservation Commission and is within the Coastal Flood Resilience Overlay District.
https://www.fortpointboston.com/2022/
 

Scott

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It is not the same reason. The Children's Museum has been part of kids lives around here since it was in JP. It was part of the good bones that made the Seaport attractive to development. The Harbor Towers is a gated community driven by self interest the aquarium is along for the ride

EDIT: clarity
 
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Vivanna

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I can't tell from the article preview/paywall - is this a teardown of the existing garage w/ a new build, conversion of the existing garage to lab space, or an addition of lab space on top of the existing garage a la 22 Boston Wharf Road?
It's replacing the 6 story garage with a 4 story lab, probably end up being the same height overall. Also, no parking is being provided in the new building!
 

rjacobs

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It's replacing the 6 story garage with a 4 story lab, probably end up being the same height overall. Also, no parking is being provided in the new building!
As parking lots go, I actually really like the classic brick. As much as I hate above ground parking lots, I can't imagine that the lab that replaces this will look better in its immediate environment.
 

stellarfun

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Curiously, 17 Farnsworth and 12 Farnsworth (directly across the street) are listed by the Boston city assessor as having the same owner: the Multi-Employer Property Trust, (MEPT) Seaport which has its administrative HQ just outside of Washington DC. The MEPT is a trust for a number of Massachusetts labor unions. The assessor asserts its ownership data is current as of Dec 28, 2021. (MEPT owns other Seaport, Fort Point parcels. 12 Farnsworth is a building with 58.750 gsf, and recently applied to zoning for conversion to a life sciences building (for floors 2-7, floor 1 remains as retail. 12 Farnsworth apparently is landmarked.)

17 Farnsworth is a 19, 563 sq ft land parcel, and the garage building is 127,652 gsf. According to BBJ, the proposed development of 17 Farnsworth is for a building of 78,000 gsf. The proposed lab building would be four floors, given the parcel size. 4 x 19.563 = 78,252.

Something doesn't seem quite right.
 

Arlington

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A major loss of parking is bad for the Children's Museum.
Regional Urban Rail is only a partial solution for the kid-oriented museums (Aquarium & Children's Museum)
Parking is a key part of the Museum of Science (and critically, MOS provisioned it so at the dawn of the 'burbs)
Even Manhattan's American Museum of Natural History has found a way to shoehorn* a parking garage into the basement (but impossible to retrofit particularly at the water's edge)
Art Museums don't need parking because kids are not the target audience.

As I wrote in the Aquarium thread way back, the basic model for a "family" visit has two key constraints:
1) Your family visit is over at the exact moment the kids melt down. Only the on-demand personal vehicle can accommodate this.
2) The stroller is a key bit of pre-school "accessibility" and its wheels don't bridge the gap between platform and supposedly "level-boarding" transit

1a) Can't leave earlier than the terminal meltdown: kids are having fun and won't leave.
"One more penguin show!" or "one more climb in the vertical maze"
1b) Can't leave later than the meltdown: kids are antisocial, loud, and in need of a nap.
You're not going to get them to walk a half mile transit and then ride it home in a civilized matter
1c) At the exact moment of meltdown the kids may have enough reserve composure or snack-induced euphoria for a 1000' journey to the family car, where the stroller is folded
1d) Kids are assumed to fall asleep in the car on the way home

2a) The stroller has small wheels to facilitate umbrella-folding into the car
2b) Without gap fillers, strollers can't roll aboard transit the way that wheelchairs can. None of the rail modes are truly stroller-enabled.

*AMNH's garage is the dingiest, lowest-ceilinged, most column-impinged parking garage the imagination can frame, and even in Manhattan, they couldn't do business without it.
And as you know, I say this as a transit-fanatic dad with transit-friendly kids who'd ride with me for fun. Even they don't think of the ride home from a museum as part of the fun.
 
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chrisbrat

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Isn't it possible that kids -- even very young kids -- adapt to the realities available to them? Boston's Children's Museum opened in 1913 and was extremely popular. There weren't a lot of cars around at the time. The precursor to the Science Museum (Museum of Natural History) began in the mid 19th century and, while not aimed specifically at young children, seems to have been popular with kids (goes w/o saying that automotive transport to/from wasn't an option at the beginning).

If part of going to a fun, kid-oriented spot was "Behave yourself on the way to and from, or we won't ever go again" I'd bet most kids would figure out the math and behave accordingly.
 

sm89

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I grew up in the suburbs and we never drove to a museum in the City when I was young. Even if there was parking, it just didn't make sense considering the cost and frustration. You leave your car at Oak Grove and ride in for the day (kids are free!). The only other times I went (not with parents) were on a school bus. I think there are definitely people who do choose to drive, but I think you're drastically over-estimating the percentage. The drivers would perhaps be nudged to another mode based on their assessment of ease, but let's also remember that all of those new developments nearby do have parking garages in them too.
 

stoweker

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I grew up in the suburbs and we never drove to a museum in the City when I was young. Even if there was parking, it just didn't make sense considering the cost and frustration. You leave your car at Oak Grove and ride in for the day (kids are free!). The only other times I went (not with parents) were on a school bus. I think there are definitely people who do choose to drive, but I think you're drastically over-estimating the percentage. The drivers would perhaps be nudged to another mode based on their assessment of ease, but let's also remember that all of those new developments nearby do have parking garages in them too.
realistically with MBTA pricing it's almost break even to drive in - two adults paying zone 3 fares are at $32 round trip, not including the cost to park at an MBTA lot. Furthermore, in the post-COVID world how many parents want their kids on mass transit if the kids can't wear masks - there is hesitation to bring under 5s onto mass transit (aside from the fact that you're bringing your kid to an indoor museum so maybe not much overlap between people who won't ride the commuter rail with kids and people who bring kids to museums). On a cost basis you're almost breakeven just to drive in, and it makes it a lot easier to get out when your kids have a meltdown and want to go home NOW.

That said there's plenty of parking around the children's museum; i'd guess that their highest utilization is on weekends when the office building garages are at lowest utilization (and also pricing below an MBTA pass).

So all things balanced it probably isn't that big of a loss to the museum to lose a parking garage. Just go park at the Benjamin and walk 2 blocks.
 

Scott

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Perhaps these museums, save the MFA, would not have survived the lean years without parking and now without parking they would lose out to more accessible venues. The Children's Museum et al would then only be for those wealthy enough to live in Town and they would fail. Franklin Park zoo would definitely fail due to a shameful lack of subway access.
 

fatnoah

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I feel like the question of parking for the museums is more around benefit for those coming out of town. Families in the city can simply walk or take transit, though some would still drive if given the option. Regarding strollers and transit, I don't know anyone in the city that ever used an umbrella stroller, as they are terrible for anything except shopping mall or airport use.

Now, for families that don't have frequent transit options, parking is essential for a number of reasons including schedule and convenience. Without parking, a fair number of families will opt out of visiting and cause a loss of revenue.
 

Arlington

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Museums are like tall buildings: they naturally tend to cluster at the CBD for reasons of sponsorship, branding, and ALL MODE access.

Car-Free and Car-Lite are not the alternative for these venues, but rather that they go "Full Ikea" and be a car-only destination in Mystic CT (Aquarium) or Glen NH (Storyland)
In the core they need all mode access--walkable parking-- even as Fenway, TD Garden, Symphony Hall, MOS do (in Boston) and AMNH does in Manhattan. We wouldn't just wave it off if TD Garden or MOS lost their garage.

Business models for a "Regional Cultural Hub" that assume that there are "city families" are going to fail because we've priced families out of the city, and re-configured it for DINKs (double income, no kids). No value judgement implied, but the reality is that toddler/pre-school and elementary demographics that support the Aquarium and Children's Museum have moved out to communities configured around lower costs of housing, two cars, schools, and "enrichment activities" (the birthday-party and afterschool racketeers)
 

erom

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I commuted on the orange line daily until covid using an umbrella stroller. Given both my kids, that's about ~5 years of daily riding with one. They are extremely common - there were typically five or six of us each day - you can't fit a full size stroller on a rush hour train. However, the worry about platform gaps is incorrect - you just tilt the thing while you wheel over the gap. It's not difficult, and if you get in trouble you just pick em up. I knew from daily riding that even older grandmas providing childcare managed it without difficulty. The infrastructure is tolerable for strollers (not to say there aren't issues, the elevator at North Station being unusable because it had a homeless person in it pooping or shooting up, that happened 2-3 times a week). Right at this moment, it's a little irrelevant because no one is taking the under 5's on the train because of covid anyway.

I think something you are missing though about parking is timing. The window between getting kids ready for a day out and having to head home for naps really isn't that long. On transit, it's maybe 30m-1h of time to actually spend at an attraction. Parking triples or quadruples the amount of time you can spend. And that's from somewhere on the T network, on the commuter rail you might as well not bother until your kids are old enough not to need naps, since by the time you get there it's time to head home. That's going to absolutely affect the number of customers at the museum if parking goes away.

So yeah, I expect this development (I used this garage pretty regularly, it was weirdly cheap and in a very good location) to make the museum harder to get too, and in the short term during covid the effect will be even greater. That said, I'm not sure this is enough of a concern to block the redevelopment. Is a small reduction in users to the museum going to tip it over, when it's customer base is already extremely affected by covid? Or is this a tiny factor compared to the virus, and much less of a big deal than the obvious win to the city of getting of getting this lot redeveloped?

I guess in the end I am in the camp of "Yes, this will hurt the museum. Do it anyway."
 

real_EthanHunt

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Plenty of parking in the area still. the lot right on Congress thats closer to Childrens Museum than this garage is empty on evenings/weekends. Atlantic Wharf, 22 Boston Wharf Rd, Seaport garages, south station.
 

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