Boston Parking Lots

stefal

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Hey all, in the midst of this COVID stay at home advisory, my side projects have been increasing in scope significantly. One thing I've been thinking about recently is the long term prospects of car ownership decreasing significantly by ~2050 with the introduction of autonomous vehicles and robo-taxis. Assuming this trend holds true in the next 30 years, this opens a lot of doors, namely for my argument/POV, decreased parking requirements for new developments and the opportunity to develop on existing lots and parking garages.

Does anyone have any glaring examples I could use to point out our lost density in Boston and Greater Boston because of sprawling parking lots? Obviously I could and have been just surfing around on Google maps and using examples I've noticed while in and around Boston myself, but on a forum of such great and vast knowledge, I figured it'd be helpful for me to send out an RFI of sorts to everyone. Thanks!

For examples on the types of places I'm thinking of:
-Parking Lots near the Orient Heights MBTA stop
-Satellite parking lots for Logan
-Various housing projects
-(Greater Boston) pretty much any mall, but I think Burlington Mall's a pretty good example.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Couple notes about some that aren't like the others. . .

Orient Heights parking sits on a valuable T maintenance parcel, where if the parking needs to go it's because the T is packing more maint facility room in there. Which would most definitely happen if the Blue Line were extended to Lynn, but also if the T needed to house some add'l non-Blue/non-bus misc. 'dirty-work' functions there. That one almost certainly won't--and definitely shouldn't--go for private dev, simply because of how hard it is for the T to find any facility space close to the city. The Quincy bus garage relocation saga is illustrative of how toxic the NIMBY culture is in local politics to transit maint facilities, so they simply must hold onto all property they have that can fulfill that role. I agree that the OH parking is excessive, and probably is fetching too much Logan induced demand. But the only buildings that'll ever be allowed to take away that parking are in-house agency facilities. It's a lot like Watertown garage's parking lot...when the garage closed they simply striped the unused yard space into a parking lot. But Watertown is on the long-range radar for an expansion bus garage to absorb a bunch of Newton/Watertown/Waltham and Allston routes from Charlestown and the downtown garages so the ones nearest the CBD can shape-shift and bank expansion capacity. And, given that battery buses need a much higher spare ratio than fossil-fuel buses for charging downtime, the reanimation of Watertown and subsequent shape-shifting of routes may be needed anyway just to hold down existing service if the move to a large-share BEB fleet. So that asphalt parking strip right on the Charles opposite H2O Sq. is overwhelmingly likely reverting right back to fully-stocked bus yard before this decade is out...so that one doesn't even have time to whip up support for a bunch of SimCity renders before it's off the board. Orient Heights may be a longer-term prospect than Watertown for add'l T uses of the parking space, but you have to treat it almost the same way as property that simply *must* be put to some sort of future-leaning transit ops use for how hard those to otherwise acquire from-scratch.


Some of the Logan overflow lots like the big one on Eastern Ave. in Chelsea on the west side of the river are Massport long-term holds for Deep Port Access activity because of the position on major shipping channel. See the disused ship docks on the river. Until they were demolished in the late-90's, that parcel was extension of the Gulf Oil gas tank farm on the parcel north of Chelsea St. See Historic Aerials; on the '78 view the tanks wrapped all the way around to the current Audi rental car lot on Marginal St. The lots are literally 'parking' the parcels until Massport can find new DPA uses for them. Those pretty much need to be held in perpetuity...no matter how much local & Legislative pols bitch and scream and try to pervert the process...as a later wave of port/shipping/industrial redev after some of the first-wave most attractive Massport parcels are tapped out. Deep ship access in a freshly dredged river, and available freight rail hookup to the Eastern Route if a siding got forked off just east of the Eastern Ave. grade crossing and passed through Gulf Oil property between the tanks. Chances are this one won't be a major redev consideration for at least 20 more years because Massport is busier right now fine-tuning its existing port properties...but with there not being much "seaport" left in the Seaport the 600K sq. ft. on the overflow lot and 400K linear square feet on the Marginal St. strip are their big mid-century leverage for the multimodal access--ship, truck haul road, and rail--that it overs. So if they have to "park" it (figuratively) in the meantime, that's perfectly acceptable future-proofing. At least as parking lots go they serve mission-critical Logan functions, which draws a red line in the sand from too much political pressure to turn it over to someone's pet private SimCity canvas.
 
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Charlie_mta

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"Boston parking Lots"...I thought this was a thread about the pre-COVID-19 SE Expressway and Route 2/Alewife Brook Pkwy.
 

stefal

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The MBTA lot at Malden Center or at Wellington Station.
Malden Center I can see no problems. I know Wellington's lot was once planned or at least conceptualized to have a significant bus garage, but I don't think the entire lot would've been occupied..... F-Line? Also debatable if a bus garage is the best use of that land, being right next to a transit stop.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The MBTA lot at Malden Center or at Wellington Station.
Wellington lot is proposed in the last Bus Facilities Plan for a 200-bus 60 ft. bus garage, with parking capacity traded skyward to a new garage up front by the parkway. Build would infuse any Charlestown routes needing 60 footers with the equipment, allow for immediate closure/sale/redev of Fellsway Garage, and consolidate all heavy-repair functions at Lynn Garage to Charlestown allowing for more pure storage expansion on the North Shore. One...facilities space near the City is extremely hard to come by, so for the enormous capacity gains offered this is a tough one to pass up. Two...it's very low-value private redev land to begin with because the only site access is the very constrained, very congested single egress by the station kiss-and-ride. Another Station Landing that slab most definitely is not because of the access constraints.


Eh...Malden lot is only 195 spaces. That really isn't a lot...same size as Sullivan lot. I've got a much bigger bone to pick with Oak Grove's excessive 729 spaces when there are no roads leading to it that should be carrying such enormous Pn'R volumes, and it hollows out the whole east-facing neighborhood around the station at arm's length. When they infill Quannapowitt/128 on the Reading Line and RUR the frequencies there to :15, that should be the all-clear to zone the shit out of no less than half of OG's parking acreage. I want to see at least a 60% reduction in the spaces there.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Random selection of other T lots that need some TOD troubleshooting. . .

  • Wollaston (403 spaces) -- Look, if you're going to bravely claim that Quincy Center is no longer the place to be housing an enormous garage because it's the transit-accessible CBD, then Wollaston really really has no leg to stand on anymore being a neighborhood stop. The entirety of the main lot needs to be infilled with Beale St./Greenwood Ave.-facing development, leaving only the 40-50 spaces of the auxiliary lot left. I thought City of Quincy was well on-point with the Quincy Ctr. teardown and the logic that Quincy Adams and North Quincy are the office-park specials next to highways most worthy of parking expansion while all others are too densely-settled and well-served by buses to need that. It made perfect sense, and I was expecting that there'd be an encore immediately cued up for Wollaston TOD once the station was rebuilt. It's a little baffling that there's still crickets; its lot size is doubly anachronistic after the QC garage teardown.

  • Sullivan (197 spaces) -- No major issues with the main lot which is appropriately self-contained and serves enough kiss-and-ride short waits to not zero out. But the ugly-ass Sullivan overpass was demolished 18 years ago...shouldn't we have seen something rendered by now for the 3 aux. lots on Main St. that used to sit under the dank, decaying overpass? I can't recall any half-serious prospects getting talked about on the Dev Forum. Despite all the booming redev all-around, dead-center Sullivan is not going to stop being a bombed-out moonscape until these three lots get developed. What gives? Are MassHighway and the BDPA turf warring again?

  • Riverside (935 spaces*) -- *Caveat #1 that we are not looking for reductions at all here...just trading vertical in a tall garage on the North Lot so hot Grove St. development can span the station gap with infill on the sprawling South Lot. And Caveat #2 that any daydreaming is contingent on what the T ultimately does with its Bus Facilities Master Plan. The last study--the same one that called for the expansion Wellington 60-footer garage and reanimation of Watertown--ID'd Riverside as the alternate site to reanimating Watertown because of the size of the south lot and pre-existing T ownership. State temporarily punted on those implementations for the ongoing Better Bus facilities stuff, but it's only a short-term deferral as the Great Garage Remapping must take place by decade's end to either bank frequency expansion flex in Boston-proper and/or bank the higher spare bus ratios required for adopting battery buses. Therefore all forewarnings about trading away T yard space apply here, because it's so hard to acquire elsewhere. That said, IF and ONLY IF Watertown gets reactivated as an expansion west-region 40-footer garage there'll be no further need to hold Riverside South for T functions. Zone it for private redev as a rectangular 140K sq. ft. parcel parcel, and cleave off the irregular-shaped rearmost 60 spaces + secondary kiss-and-ride loop for 60K sq. ft. for the T to backfill as Green Line yard expansion.
 

Arlington

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Wellington lot is... very low-value private redev land to begin with because the only site access is the very constrained, very congested single egress by the station kiss-and-ride. Another Station Landing that slab most definitely is not because of the access constraints.
It may not be quite the mixed use that Station Landing is--maybe just Zero Parking Residential. The previous Mayor was heard to say that (1) Old Mayor McGlynn had reserved the air rights above the station to the City and that (2) The city would like to see TOD there.

Site access isn't quite as constrained as far as Medford is concerned because it includes both Parkway (East-West) and Rivers Edge Drive (Northside). And it will definitely have better commuter bike access in the future once the area has been tied by trails to Kendall/Grand Junction. True, it may have lost its primacy on the Urban Ring to the Casino.

But the new south headhouse (or re-done North headhouse) at Wellington could have at least some directly-connected TOD-on-top-of-Parking, with 0 deeded spots per residential unit.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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It may not be quite the mixed use that Station Landing is--maybe just Zero Parking Residential. The previous Mayor was heard to say that (1) Old Mayor McGlynn had reserved the air rights above the station to the City and that (2) The city would like to see TOD there.

Site access isn't quite as constrained as far as Medford is concerned because it includes both Parkway (East-West) and Rivers Edge Drive (Northside). And it will definitely have better commuter bike access in the future once the area has been tied by trails to Kendall/Grand Junction. True, it may have lost its primacy on the Urban Ring to the Casino.

But the new south headhouse (or re-done North headhouse) at Wellington could have at least some directly-connected TOD-on-top-of-Parking, with 0 deeded spots per residential unit.
Yeah, but if building the bus yard there means Fellsway Garage next to the ugly-ass Target on 60 is immediately a jump-ball...then relatively speaking what becomes the new pecking order of prime-most Medford redev parcels? It sure ain't the Wellington backlot. Wellington really doesn't have a mechanism for gaining top mindshare as anyone's idea's of a fantasy canvas. Ari Osevit, whose views on the value of central transpo storage vs. private redev are...incoherent at-best...is maybe the only person on the face of the earth claiming that slab's got private land value parity with Station Landing (yes, he claims it's exactly equal). And while Ari's right on so many things, based on his last year-plus's worth of blog writing there is no transpo topic on earth he's consistently/hopelessly wronger on than ¡SIMCITY-ING ALL THE YARDS!.

For one thing, if there has to be a tall garage scrunched up by the kiss-and-ride to make the acreage available, that single-point egress to the 16E ramp + Rivers Edge/16W ramp convergence is going to get more constrained still by all the traffic merging with the new garage egresses. You're not outright removing the parking to clear space. You're freeing the acreage, but the egressing traffic patterns get a bit more complex by the presence of the garage needing to send everyone in/out of that same single roadway meet. Future conditions are going to be less amenable, not moreso, to plunking private redev of any significant traffic-generating ability behind it. Certainly nothing that could be developed for as high-leverage to Medford's tax base than a reimagining of that Fellsway Garage + ugly-ass Target slab up the street.
 
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Highwayguy

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Re the Sullivan parcels under the demolished viaduct: Those are slated for redevelopment pending the Rutherford Ave rebuild. However that project is still only at 25% and is just absolutely creeping along because no one can agree on nothing. The Sullivan square area specifically is still very much in flux. 25% plans call for those parcels to be encroached on with the one North of the bus lane signal to be totally obliterated by a 2 lane NB connector RD. All of those parcels are still within the SHLO, so don’t expect DOT to sell those until that project is done so it can preserve its options. Hell, its not even set in stone that the underpass is going to remain. Even once the project is done, l wouldn’t hold my breath on them being developed, especially if we go into a recession. Very constrained sites surrounded on all sides by either 4 lane boulevards or 2 lane one ways.
 

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OK, here's a couple commuter rail ones. . .

  • Canton Junction (762 spaces) -- Holy asphalt sprawl! If you want a good workout, the walk from the northernmost space in North lot to the southernmost space in the linear South is same distance between CJ and Canton Center(!) stations. This borg amalgamated itself very slowly over time, absorbing demolished industrial parcels piecemeal until it became...that ungodly mess cleaving one whole side of town off from the other. Most recent expansion is the private lot south of CJ West. Now, the station does need a LOT of parking overall because utilization is through the roof and it gets the complete slate of Providence/Stoughton frequencies. However, there is significant induced demand here from I-95 commuters bailing out early at Neponset St. to avoid the Canton Split backups by 128 Station. The interchange rebuild megaproject will give 95 a dedicated offramp onto University Ave. before it merges into the 128 mainline, as well as a completed interchange to Dedham St. before the interchange...so Pn'R volumes should see seismic shift away from CJ to Westwood after the reboot. Westwood Landing, since--God bless their underachieving little planning minds--has consigned itself to big-box strip mediocrity, also has plenty of room for expansion garages in and around that can keep shuttle vans to the station perpetually busy at RUR Providence/Stoughton service levels. So with that on-tap, CJ needs some dieting. But more than just dieting, the considerable *native* parking demand needs to be massively consolidated to slay the asphalt borg and make this nice village area just a tad more walkable.
    • The linear-strip extreme of CJ South lot in all likelihood needs to go away so the NEC side can be tri-tracked for Amtrak passage of stopped T trains, sorting opportunity before Canton Viaduct, and infrastructure-shifting so the northbound NEC platform can be extended to a regulation 800 ft. (at 5 cars it's woefully short of platforming an existing Providence rush 8-pack). You can see the paved-over remains of a former MOW siding forking off the southbound track right after the Spaulding St. overpass, stubbing out before the first handicapped spot by the ped overpass. That would get reanimated as the new platform turnout, while the current southbound track becomes the center passer and all merges back in at the end of the current trackside parking row right before the viaduct.
    • CJ West main lot needs to be replaced by a 500-space garage. Not too tall, maybe 3 stories. Equitable access to the Spaulding St. corner and egress in-line with the Wattles St. intersection for traffic distribution. Construct a new set of ped track overpasses shooting out the second story to flank the north side of the station. The existing south stairs will see more future utilization because the former freight siding to the demolished rubber factory 2000 ft. down Revere St. is being developed into a rail trail and new station ped egress to Revere St. The siding track still exists forking into the center island asphalt off the Stoughton southbound track, pulling a reverse at a switch, then descending an incline to Revere St. which it parallels about halfway to Canton Ctr. to the cleanup site at the former plant. Station access from that side is going to get a lot better.
    • CJ West private expansion lot for redev. It's Town of Canton so lower your expectations accordingly. Seems like a nice enough spot for a medical office building.
    • CJ North lot redev on the Spaulding/Chapman/Beaumont triangle to explicitly heal the gash that opens up in the street grid. Something appropriately Canton-y village store-looking in architecture...preferably retail w/commuter snackies so foot traffic is the primary infiller. Where's the nearest Dunkies anyway, or does Honey Dew have this area to itself???
    • Hold off on CJ East lot for time being. South Coast Rail Phase II has a lot of troubleshooting to do on its single-track broken frequencies forcing service reductions to 128, CJ, Canton Center, and Stoughton from branch skip-stopping, and also its complete inattention to NEC capacity. Bottom line is the project is not going to happen unless they can roll back the breakage to restore Stoughton-north local frequencies...but IF the tradeoff in solving those issues is that very close-by Canton Center needs to be sacrificed then you will need to retain the parking capacity of CJ East lot to absorb CC demand. Assume in that unfortunate but perhaps necessary contingency that buses get re-routed and increased from CC to CJ to offset, and that there's significant ped-enhancements (rail with trail along the Stoughton main?...there's room, and as noted the distance between stations is equal to the span of CJ's parking borg so it's not a big production). At any rate, don't make plans to revisit CJ East lot until SCR Phase II has been duly paper-revisited and takes its best troubleshooting crack at the fatal service problems from the DEIR. If SCR sounds an all-clear, zone the half of the lot furthest down Sherman St. (maybe that's where the Dunks drive-thru should go?) and leave the other half of the surface spaces around the historic depot building and Stoughton northbound platform for quick trips.

  • Norwood Central (781 spaces) -- Such a stately and quaint little 50-space lot bookending the historic depot on Broadway. Now what the shit is going on across the tracks?!? Another one like CJ that extremely gradually assembled itself into a monstrous borg from absorbing demolished adjacent parcels and hollows out its entire surroundings like it drank a bottle of asphalt-black Drano. Only the new solar panel canopies over East lot break up the monotony. And look!...the remediated factory parcel abutting West lot is just begging for another massive parking expansion! Somebody stop this madness. At RUR service levels where Forge Park and Foxboro are tag-teaming, this stop perhaps slugs the biggest overall ridership of any trans-128 sited station on the whole system, in a dense downtown absolutely pitch-perfectly laid out to rake on new walkup ridership sources. The only thing that's missing before letting RUR 'rip are the new feeder bus routes pulling in the last-milers from all around, because right now the 34E Forest Hills-Walpole is the only route going there. Norwood Central can't stake such torrid growth staked to the same car mode share it gets from Pn'R today; the amount of additional parking needed to sustain the increases will literally destroy downtown. Hopefully :30 full-service to Foxboro and RUR to Dedham Corporate & Westwood take the sting out of some of its sources. But in the meantime you need to massively, massively consolidate here before this asphalt crater takes any more victims.
    • 600-700 space garage on NC East, primary egress at the Lenox/Cross St. intersection. The lonely renovated brick factory building next door on the corner of Lenox/Guild sets appropriate height and architectural motif, so...4-story max garage? Keep the dimensions more or less faithfully squared up with the end of the depot building's south-tip parking lot, not extending too many feet south of there if avoidable. That leaves a 75-85K sq. ft. square on the south half of the lot to redev, and a trapezoidal 25K sq. ft. in front of the garage where Lenox bulbs out.
    • Re-zone the totality of NC West on Hoyle St. Norwood Hospital would crave this space for med office buildings.
    • Buses! Buses! Buses! Attack that mode share, so holding the line at ~700 spaces stacked vertical projects enough even with the >doubling of service levels. Route 1 environs, southern Westwood, East Walpole last-mile catchments need a big assist here.
 
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Arlington

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The enormous surface lots around Wonderland.
Seriously. This is also a place that needs a little "climate resiliency" work built in, where the occupied levels are searise-protected and the lower levels are "bathtubbed" the way seaport parking is (with a all entry points high above any storm surge.

And while this thread sort of assumed that the lot was around a rail station, in Wonderland (Dog Track)'s case, a new CR station should anchor the west side of Shore Rd.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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Seriously. This is also a place that needs a little "climate resiliency" work built in, where the occupied levels are searise-protected and the lower levels are "bathtubbed" the way seaport parking is (with a all entry points high above any storm surge.

And while this thread sort of assumed that the lot was around a rail station, in Wonderland (Dog Track)'s case, a new CR station should anchor the west side of Shore Rd.
"Wonderland CR" is a zombie pitch that needs to die even harder than "Alewife CR". No one in their right mind is going to walk 1350 ft. across windswept parking lots to make a line transfer, least of all times when the Angry Atlantic is blowing a cold gale straight in one's face. It's been studied multiple times; the ridership projections were utter garbage each time. RUR isn't going to salvage it, either, because the transfer distance is still shit and no one goes to Wonderland to be anywhere around Wonderland...only park there. And if they park there, they're taking an :05 Blue headway to get anywhere, not waiting for the :15 Urban Rail.

Since TOD at the former dog track seems to have given up the ghost (oooh...a Logan valet lot!) and Suffolk Downs has eclipsed the sun as the "Only Redev that Revere's Tax Base Cares About", the parking moonscape around Wonderland is just about the worst albatross the system is long-term saddled with. One that just got worse with NECCO next door going out of business leaving that facility as the troubleshoot of bigger concern than the now long-forgotten dog park. One that will get worse still when their prime retail sign-on...Big Lots???...soon goes out of business and takes down the rest of the enormously tacky big-box strip mall across the street. The hugely overpriced garage used as a bullshit excuse to shelve and delay so many CLF Transit Commitments did more harm than good on balance, the TOD potential it was sold on was a giant con, and if BLX happens culling the 4xx-series buses at a proper terminal at long last it's going to lose all of its most useful connections and see its native utilization go to spit. But it'll still be a mighty induced demand trap for parkways that can't handle Pn'R crush volumes all that well. And the only pivot that keeps resurfacing is "zombie Wonderland CR" yet again on a walk no one in their right mind is going to make.

It's dead. All brain activity has ceased. I'd say nuke it, but that's already Wonderland's default condition. So maybe flood it to spare the rest of Revere Beach from sea level rise???
 

cbrett

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I kind of tackled this idea for my undergrad thesis, and one of the biggest offenders not mentioned were mall and retail parking lots next to stations like Newmarket. My analysis was looking at the ratio between land value and building value to determine what areas were "underdeveloped", and generally those sites had tons of parking. Consolidating into municipal lots or garages could open up a ton of development space and potential revenue for the T
 

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