Design a Better Lot

George_Apley

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I thought this thread could be a good place for people to propose and discuss the redevelopment of lots, properties, or buildings in their neighborhoods (home, work, or play) that fulfill the following two criteria:

1. The lot BUGS THE CRAP OUT OF YOU as is
2. It has no existing official proposals for redevelopment

This is a low-stakes, play-in-the-sandbox type thread. I'm making it simply because I have these sorts of musings all the time when I walk around and see and experience certain places over and over again, and I figure that some of you folks probably do as well.

For example: I love Market Basket. I shop at the Somerville Ave Market Basket at least once a week. BUT... I hate hate HATE the property.
  • The store is too small and doesn't have full departments and amenities of other MBs
  • The parking lot is both too tight and abuts the street
  • It's a suburban property plan in a walkable neighborhood

In my fantasy world, this property would still be a Market Basket, but Artie T Demoulas would:
  1. Swap the store with the parking. Put a store entrance on Somerville Ave so that walkers can stroll right in and out without tangoing with cars in the parking lot.
  2. Rebuild a full-sized Market Basket store with a bakery, seafood counter, and prepared foods counter, and with wider aisles.
  3. Build a 2-storey parking deck behind the store abutting the RR tracks with entrances and exists to Somerville Ave and a rideshare pick-up and drop-off zone. Put a store entrance facing the parking.
  4. Install those fun carriage escalators for people to get to the parking deck if they're not parked on the ground level.
  5. Have checkout lanes along the eastern or western walls so the entrances/exits on either side hit the street or the parking areas.
  6. Build 3-5 floors of housing/office on top of the grocery store.

Someday down the road when the Green Line extends from Union to Porter, plop a GL station at Church and Lake with a pedestrian bridge/duck-under to the Washington Street side of the tracks.


Hack it to pieces or propose your own neighborhood project!
 
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Charlie_mta

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Great topic. I'd like to see the large shopping center at Medford St and Somerville Ave, and also the large empty lot to the east of Medford Street redeveloped to high density residential/commercial with a street grid. Google streetview is at https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3772418,-71.0892325,3a,75y,187.67h,72.06t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZOKiVEVaq4LNJRTdTyMPsQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=enon.

When the elevated McGrath Highway is grounded someday, these redeveloped parcels would create a great urban neighborhood. Add an infill stop at Medford Street on the Green Line branch to Union Square and totally transform this part of Somerville.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Great topic. I'd like to see the large shopping center at Medford St and Somerville Ave, and also the large empty lot to the east of Medford Street redeveloped to high density residential/commercial with a street grid. Google streetview is at https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3772418,-71.0892325,3a,75y,187.67h,72.06t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZOKiVEVaq4LNJRTdTyMPsQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=enon.

When the elevated McGrath Highway is grounded someday, these redeveloped parcels would create a great urban neighborhood. Add an infill stop at Medford Street on the Green Line branch to Union Square and totally transform this part of Somerville.
No need to infill. Union's already being built with a back egress to Charlestown St. that puts you a straight 800 ft. walk from station exit door to Target entry door. Medford St. only saves a negligible 100 ft. there. If redev of the plaza includes its own back path, then everywhere near that bridge gets tied into the Union catchment.


Don't forget as well: if the Grand Junction gets repackaged for Urban Ring light rail then Twin City Plaza also gets a stop, and that's only 800 ft. from the bridge. So for future alignment's sake maximizing the access to Union with redev that includes paths is probably a better use of energy than passing the tin cup for an infill that may become redundant.


No argument about the plaza. They do "urban Targets" quite well these days, so that one is a complete anachronism while the other tenants are wildly unstable. Or move 'em to Assembly when K-Mart is finally pronounced dead any month now; they'll do enough business there that it won't matter (like with Home Depot) that there's another one across the river @ Gateway.
 

George_Apley

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Great topic. I'd like to see the large shopping center at Medford St and Somerville Ave, and also the large empty lot to the east of Medford Street redeveloped to high density residential/commercial with a street grid. Google streetview is at https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3772418,-71.0892325,3a,75y,187.67h,72.06t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZOKiVEVaq4LNJRTdTyMPsQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=enon.

When the elevated McGrath Highway is grounded someday, these redeveloped parcels would create a great urban neighborhood. Add an infill stop at Medford Street on the Green Line branch to Union Square and totally transform this part of Somerville.
Absolutely! This is one spot that I'm guessing will get redeveloped QUICK once McGrath comes down and is dieted. Target's already proven to be a good partner for urban developers so I'm guessing there won't be problems keeping it as an anchor tenant.
 

cadetcarl

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Two obvious such spots for me are

1) The Wellington surface lot(s). You could fit another whole Station Landing or Assembly Jr. on there while consolidating the parking into a structure.
1b) Ditto the Gateway Ctr lots. That's a whole neighborhood's worth of land.

2) The parking lots and shopping plazas along Centre St in Malden Center cannot be long for this world. I love all the stuff that's there, it's convenient that there's a Stop & Shop, Walgreens, etc but I'd like to see more urban treatments of the same. It'd be the perfect area for a city Target.

In general I have high hopes for the quarter of Malden Ctr enclosed by Commercial, Center, Main and Pleasant Streets.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Two obvious such spots for me are

1) The Wellington surface lot(s). You could fit another whole Station Landing or Assembly Jr. on there while consolidating the parking into a structure.
1b) Ditto the Gateway Ctr lots. That's a whole neighborhood's worth of land.
Wellington backlot is earmarked for a new T bus garage that can feed 200 sixty-footers into Charlestown, Fellsway, and Lynn districts. Parking would be traded vertical in a new garage closer to 16. Since the access at the back is very constrained to only one egress it wouldn't support anything close to Station Landing's density and would have artificially low land value for the location. Bus capacity is probably the most ideal overall usage.


Gateway would come with a construction cost premium for engaging the dirty-dirt landfill cap under the site. No feasibility concerns but the value would have to crest a bit more to make that worth some developer's while.
 

fattony

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Great topic. I'd like to see the large shopping center at Medford St and Somerville Ave, and also the large empty lot to the east of Medford Street redeveloped to high density residential/commercial with a street grid. Google streetview is at https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3772418,-71.0892325,3a,75y,187.67h,72.06t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZOKiVEVaq4LNJRTdTyMPsQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?hl=enon.

When the elevated McGrath Highway is grounded someday, these redeveloped parcels would create a great urban neighborhood. Add an infill stop at Medford Street on the Green Line branch to Union Square and totally transform this part of Somerville.
This area technically has a name - "Milk Square"

I agree that this is plenty close to Union that it should pop with the GLX plan we already have. It is in the Union Square neighborhood development plan.
 

Vagabond

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1) The Wellington surface lot(s). You could fit another whole Station Landing or Assembly Jr. on there while consolidating the parking into a structure.
1
Speaking of Station Landing - those terribly designed parking lots are finally getting filled in. The AC hotel parking lot is currently under construction getting filled in by a new 9 story Marriott. There's also a few new restaurants going in and the Encore childcare facility.

Any guesses on how long Kappy's keeps watch over the opposite corner?
 

bigpicture7

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I would definitely add the Firestone and Sullivan Tire service station lots that span significant frontage on Comm Ave near BU.

I get that there are still a lot of cars that need servicing, but as a car owner who lives near this area, I do not mind going further outbound to a service center for the couple of times a year I need to deal with this...

In fact, I would suggest that the best places for these service stations would be at outbound transit termini (e.g., the Alewifes, Riversides, etc...that way urban car owners can drop their vehicles and take transit in to work for the day).

These service stations are remnants from a prior time when the Comm. ave corridor was all about buying/servicing cars, and was much less densely utilized than it is today.

These are the lots I'm talking about. Housing/academic buildings/street level retail would all be a better use than what's there:

*Street: https://goo.gl/maps/d24XgHkzDTum2xg78
*Aerial: https://goo.gl/maps/dEwR9r7anSJWzfNi8
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The Citgo on the corner of Huntington and South Huntington has always irked me as anachronistic.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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I would definitely add the Firestone and Sullivan Tire service station lots that span significant frontage on Comm Ave near BU.

I get that there are still a lot of cars that need servicing, but as a car owner who lives near this area, I do not mind going further outbound to a service center for the couple of times a year I need to deal with this...

In fact, I would suggest that the best places for these service stations would be at outbound transit termini (e.g., the Alewifes, Riversides, etc...that way urban car owners can drop their vehicles and take transit in to work for the day).

These service stations are remnants from a prior time when the Comm. ave corridor was all about buying/servicing cars, and was much less densely utilized than it is today.

These are the lots I'm talking about. Housing/academic buildings/street level retail would all be a better use than what's there:

*Street: https://goo.gl/maps/d24XgHkzDTum2xg78
*Aerial: https://goo.gl/maps/dEwR9r7anSJWzfNi8

The Comm Ave. service stations are on the Brookline side of the border and wedges against BU development in a war that's lasted for decades. There's a thread on that here somewhere detailing the long history of that feud.
 

Downburst

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The Citgo on the corner of Huntington and South Huntington has always irked me as anachronistic.
First thing that came to mind when I saw this thread. There was a zoning study done on the South Huntington Avenue corridor a few years ago that identified this site as a major placemaking opportunity but I don't know what results (if any) came of it.
 

George_Apley

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Speaking of Station Landing - those terribly designed parking lots are finally getting filled in. The AC hotel parking lot is currently under construction getting filled in by a new 9 story Marriott. There's also a few new restaurants going in and the Encore childcare facility.

Any guesses on how long Kappy's keeps watch over the opposite corner?
I’m super skeptical of that intersection becoming more pedestrianized and having more smart development. That said, I could see a developer putting an ill-conceived project up on the Kappy’s site in 5-10 years.
 

bigeman312

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That intersection should be re-designed before a major "placemaking" development occurs there.

That lot is suited for a high-rise, mixed-use building, with ground-floor retail. As-is, that intersection is completely unmanageable. With a large development there, I think we'd be looking at a level of gridlock that would further destroy the 39's bunching problem, the E Branch's usability between there and Heath Street, and have cascading effects for private automobiles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Short-term option: Remove the ability to make a left turn from South Huntington -> Huntington

Longer-term option: D/E Green Line connection at Brookline Village, remove the South Huntington section of the Green Line, and add protected bike lanes to South Huntington.
 

Equilibria

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I’m super skeptical of that intersection becoming more pedestrianized and having more smart development. That said, I could see a developer putting an ill-conceived project up on the Kappy’s site in 5-10 years.
Wellington Circle is being completely redone (again), paid for by Encore. This time, it will be an actual rebuild instead of the new signals and lanes from last time. MassDOT has already gone to RFP on a planning study for it.
 

bakgwailo

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That intersection should be re-designed before a major "placemaking" development occurs there.

That lot is suited for a high-rise, mixed-use building, with ground-floor retail. As-is, that intersection is completely unmanageable. With a large development there, I think we'd be looking at a level of gridlock that would further destroy the 39's bunching problem, the E Branch's usability between there and Heath Street, and have cascading effects for private automobiles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Short-term option: Remove the ability to make a left turn from South Huntington -> Huntington

Longer-term option: D/E Green Line connection at Brookline Village, remove the South Huntington section of the Green Line, and add protected bike lanes to South Huntington.
I would vote bi-directional bus lanes on the second longer-term option. Then perhaps forgo the left turn lane space for bike lanes.
 

George_Apley

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Wellington Circle is being completely redone (again), paid for by Encore. This time, it will be an actual rebuild instead of the new signals and lanes from last time. MassDOT has already gone to RFP on a planning study for it.
Awesome. Will be interesting to see what they come up with. 16 is a total shit-show south of Medford Square all the way to Route 1.
 

George_Apley

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Longer-term option: D/E Green Line connection at Brookline Village, remove the South Huntington section of the Green Line, and add protected bike lanes to South Huntington.
Oh that's interesting. Get rid of the street-running segment all-together? I agree that bus lanes would need to be included to help the 39 supplant the Green Line in northern JP.
 

bigeman312

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Oh that's interesting. Get rid of the street-running segment all-together? I agree that bus lanes would need to be included to help the 39 supplant the Green Line in northern JP.
In a perfect world, the E-Branch would run to Hyde Square.

But, I'm weighing the options realistically with all stakeholders, and looking at the limited space available.

This stretch of South Huntington (between Heath and Huntington) does not have room for safe access for light rail, bus, pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles, at present volume.

It has been shown that at peak times, 42% of users of the right-of-way are pedestrians or cyclists.

Coincidentally, 9' sidealks, 6' protected bike lanes, with 2' planting strips between the bike lanes and road take up just about 42% of the ROW (34' of 80'). I would love to see that setup for the length of South Huntington between Huntington and Heath. To me, that would be a perfectly sufficient setup for cyclists and pedestrians in that area.

That leaves 46' for all other modes. along that stretch.

That's just enough for
  • Staggered bus stops on South Huntington (just south of Huntington), and staggered bus stops near 105 S Huntington and 100 S Huntington.
  • A northbound right turn lane approaching Huntington and a left/right turn lane to its left.
  • A single southbound lane from Huntington to just beyond the southbound Huntington bus stop.
  • Two lanes of general travel (bus + auto) in either direction between the Huntington and 105/100 S Huntington bus stops.
  • A S Huntington-bound and a Heath St - bound lane each, southbound from South Huntington approaching Heath

This, to me, is the minimum accommodation for auto + bus access to this stretch. And that is with no parking. Light rail access (without expensive tunneling) would mean continuing to hinder all modes, unfortunately.

So, how do we accommodate all modes without the transit loss of the E-Branch? Send the E to Brookline Village, and we can have a net-win for transit, as well as a congestion solution for the South Huntington mess. You could mix D/E service:

  • Riverside - Government Center, via Huntington
  • Riverside - Government Center, via Kenmore
  • Reservoir - Government Center, via Huntington
  • Reservoir - Government Center, via Kenmore
  • Riverside - College Ave, via Huntington
  • Riverside - College Ave, via Kenmore
  • Reservoir - College Ave, via Huntington
  • Reservoir - College Ave, via Kenmore

And obviously others, but those would be the big 8.

Anyways, I know I'm getting off-topic here, but I maintain that this lot can not be developed until this intersection's issues are solved. It is one of the worst in Boston, at the moment.
 

Shepard

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90% of the Huntington/South Huntington problem would be eliminated if street parking were eliminated.
 

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