Suffolk Downs Redevelopment | East Boston

Equilibria

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Do they have the same FAA height restrictions here as the seaport? I am sure there are some zoning stuff to go along with that, but wondered if there is an imaginary chalk line snapped in the sky across this site. Amazing to have another large open space to build housing.
Yes, and this project is within them. Varies from 150' at the SW corner to 300' roughly along the tanks.
 

etik

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City Councillor Lydia Edwards has been taking an involved role in this redevelopment. In the tweet posted below, she says that the city will be requiring more 2 and 3 family housing. This seems to suggest that the overall height and density will be limited, at least on the outer edges of the development bordering existing neighborhoods. This goes a step further (I believe) than previous renderings, which also had a step down towards the edges. I don't understand how this will result in more affordable-per-unit-land housing, unless the lot sizes are tiny.

Overall I'm confused as to how the stated goals of housing affordability will match up with top-down requirements of small buildings. It's like people compare the prices of century-old triple-deckers with new 5-over-1s, and conclude that the triple-decker's form is what makes it more affordable ?? That's Boston's development politics for you.

 

Equilibria

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Overall I'm confused as to how the stated goals of housing affordability will match up with top-down requirements of small buildings. It's like people compare the prices of century-old triple-deckers with new 5-over-1s, and conclude that the triple-decker's form is what makes it more affordable ?? That's Boston's development politics for you.
I think that a push to make the neighborhood attainable (which is the Seaport's great failure - living there is simply unattainable for 99% of Boston residents) is going to naturally butt up against the architectural reality of affordable housing. We've been discussing it today on other threads - architectural distinction and high-end exteriors aren't compatible with affordability. Suffolk Downs could (and maybe should) end up as a weird mix of striking office/lab buildings and boring, pedestrian wooden apartments.
 

stick n move

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The seaports story isnt written yet either. So far its the waterfront thats been filling in... thats the most expensive real estate in any city anywhere on Earth. Theres no failure here that isnt the same as anywhere else. Once the neighborhood fills up the expensive parcels and starts to push inland down D st, E st..etc thats when more market rate and affordable units (should) start to come into place. If E st fills up end to end with luxury condos then its a failure, but the story of this neighborhood just started, its nowhere near written yet.
 

atlantaden

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So, does this still include 10,000 housing units as originally proposed? I saw the affordable number but maybe missed the total number of units in the new proposal.
 

Equilibria

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I think it is for traffic calming and gateway creation. It will signal to drivers they are entering an neighborhood and physically require them to slow down.
I understand that, but to me it doesn't reinforce that this is a neighborhood, it reinforces that it's a planned development/Disneyland. Assembly has similar roundabouts, and that's the effect they have. The entrance to the Back Bay isn't marked by a "traffic calming" circle, the road just goes there.
 

DZH22

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I hope nothing gets built here for at least 20 more years. I don't think they have thought this through very well. (in particular, traffic/congestion) Also, we already have plenty of uninspiring schlock sucking away demand from the big projects downtown, particularly in the Seaport and North Point areas. I'd rather see more height and density closer to downtown than building yet ANOTHER dull "neighborhood" from scratch.
 

Equilibria

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I hope nothing gets built here for at least 20 more years. I don't think they have thought this through very well. (in particular, traffic/congestion) Also, we already have plenty of uninspiring schlock sucking away demand from the big projects downtown, particularly in the Seaport and North Point areas. I'd rather see more height and density closer to downtown than building yet ANOTHER dull "neighborhood" from scratch.
2 or 3 500-foot condo towers don't do anything to solve the housing crisis. This does.
 

chmeeee

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I understand that, but to me it doesn't reinforce that this is a neighborhood, it reinforces that it's a planned development/Disneyland. Assembly has similar roundabouts, and that's the effect they have. The entrance to the Back Bay isn't marked by a "traffic calming" circle, the road just goes there.
You also don't turn into Back Bay off of a 6-lane 50 mph suburban traffic sewer.
 

DZH22

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2 or 3 500-foot condo towers don't do anything to solve the housing crisis. This does.
This exacerbates a transportation crisis that will ultimately be viewed as even more dire than the housing crisis. There is still room for a LOT of growth in and around downtown, near subway stations. Why stop at 2-3 towers when we could easily absorb 20-30? I'd rather see that growth maximized, instead of embracing more sprawl. East Boston is already a bleeping gridlocked disaster and Suffolk Downs will prove to be its breaking point. Everything built that is NOT directly on transit will just add to the traffic nightmare. Every project that is scaled back downtown leads to more garbage built in poorly accessible locations.
 

stick n move

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Theres a bigger picture going on here. Suffolk downs is part of a larger shift overall of decentralization. Each neighborhood is building its own downtown, which is a part of a larger trend were seeing overall. Historically jobs have been centralized downtown, where everyday hundreds of thousands of people all commute to downtown from wherever theyre from, and then at the end of the day they all head home. These mass movements of people to and from the core cause massive gridlock, and jobs being in the core mean people have to live far away from where they work. Today were finally seeing a shift towards jobs being spread around between many different neighborhoods which will eventually allow people to live closer to where they work.

Each neighborhood is building its own downtown for people to work in. If you live in dorchester youll be able to get a job at bayside/jfk/harbor point. If you live in Somerville youll be able to work at Assembly/Union. If you live in Eastie theres going to be thousands of jobs at Suffolk downs. If you live in southie you have the seaport, but Broadway is getting build up too along with the south end close by, and Andrew/dot ave has a huge masterplan coming. East Cambridge-Northpoint, Cambridge-Kendall, Brighton-New Balance/Allston yards, Allston-Beacon yards, Watertown-Arsenal yards...etc.

This is a major shift, so its going to take a bit, but the idea is sound. Many people will be able to find jobs close by to where they live. Even if someone cant the people in/entering the work force today dont own homes and are not settled and very transient, so it wont be a big deal for the person who lives in an apartment in Brighton who gets a job at Suffolk downs to move somewhere in Eastie. Even if they dont want to move having New Balance, Allston yards, and Beacon yards being built close by will give them lots of opportunities to find work that they didnt have before.

Looking at each project in a vaccuum ignores the greater shift happening across the city. All of these different cores in each neighborhood will encourage walking/biking and transit because people will actually be able to live much closer to their work. Its not going to happen overnight, but the direction the city is moving is necessary and its going to change a lot of what we think about the live/work relationship.
 

Equilibria

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This exacerbates a transportation crisis that will ultimately be viewed as even more dire than the housing crisis. There is still room for a LOT of growth in and around downtown, near subway stations. Why stop at 2-3 towers when we could easily absorb 20-30? I'd rather see that growth maximized, instead of embracing more sprawl. East Boston is already a bleeping gridlocked disaster and Suffolk Downs will prove to be its breaking point. Everything built that is NOT directly on transit will just add to the traffic nightmare. Every project that is scaled back downtown leads to more garbage built in poorly accessible locations.
The whole of Suffolk Downs is in the Blue Line walkshed, and the reason we have a transportation crisis is that jobs are so focused on one location while people are distributed. Developments like this co-locate dense housing and jobs in areas with good transit access. Focusing on one location without massively increasing capacity = gridlock (or crammed trains where you can't move/board). Basic supply/demand.

Suffolk Downs is the same distance from Downtown that Harvard Square is. Do you call Cambridge "sprawl"?
 

DZH22

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Suffolk Downs is the same distance from Downtown that Harvard Square is. Do you call Cambridge "sprawl"?
Cambridge doesn't have the harbor acting as a barrier between itself and downtown. There are many crossings across the Charles, and Harvard is a nexus for bus routes as well as on the better-run (than blue) red line. East Boston feels much less accessible. I hardly even go there now, even though it has among the best views of the city and I am a picture guy. It's usually too difficult to deal with that area. Don't forget there is also a ton of airport traffic. Are we really willing to further choke off "easy" access to the airport over a development whose demand could be satisfied in a whole litany of other areas? Route 1a is a disaster. Do you really not understand the logistical differences between Eastie and Harvard Square?
 

HenryAlan

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This exacerbates a transportation crisis that will ultimately be viewed as even more dire than the housing crisis. There is still room for a LOT of growth in and around downtown, near subway stations. Why stop at 2-3 towers when we could easily absorb 20-30? I'd rather see that growth maximized, instead of embracing more sprawl. East Boston is already a bleeping gridlocked disaster and Suffolk Downs will prove to be its breaking point. Everything built that is NOT directly on transit will just add to the traffic nightmare. Every project that is scaled back downtown leads to more garbage built in poorly accessible locations.
The Suffolk Downs neighborhood is walking distance to two subway stations. How is this not the perfect place to build housing?
 

Equilibria

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Cambridge doesn't have the harbor acting as a barrier between itself and downtown. There are many crossings across the Charles, and Harvard is a nexus for bus routes as well as on the better-run (than blue) red line. East Boston feels much less accessible. I hardly even go there now, even though it has among the best views of the city and I am a picture guy. It's usually too difficult to deal with that area. Don't forget there is also a ton of airport traffic. Are we really willing to further choke off "easy" access to the airport over a development whose demand could be satisfied in a whole litany of other areas? Route 1a is a disaster. Do you really not understand the logistical differences between Eastie and Harvard Square?
There are two highway tunnels, one bridge (the Tobin) and one subway tunnel linking that part of Eastie to Downtown Boston. Cambridge has four bridges (yes, it turns out Cambridge and Boston are separated by - gasp - WATER) depending on how you count (O'Brien, Longfellow, Mass Ave, BU - maybe you keep going and count River Street, Western Ave, etc.) which have an average of 2-4 travel lanes apiece and leave you off at signalized intersections on city streets an increasing distance from the actual Downtown. Also, a subway link and a light rail viaduct. Suffolk Downs is much more accessible from Downtown than Harvard is.

You assume that if you've ignored a place, it must be hard to get to. Fine. I do go to Eastie the neighborhood sometimes, and it's really pretty easy. The Blue Line is generally less packed than the Red, Orange, and Green (though its ridership is increasing), and Maverick is a pleasant walk to basically the whole neighborhood. Suffolk Downs will make two more Mavericks further up the line, hopefully.
 

DZH22

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You assume that if you've ignored a place, it must be hard to get to.
You misunderstood the post. I ignore it most of the time, BECAUSE it is hard to get to! That's based on many past experiences! I still drive by Suffolk Downs at least a couple of times a year. I know what it's like over there. The rest of Eastie towards the airport gets progressively worse. How many more cars can these roads possibly handle?

Regarding the subway, I keep seeing pictures (typically from Universal Hub) of the Blue Line hitting Maverick Station 100% full during rush hour, train after train. It seems like it's already at capacity over there unless something has changed.

Cambridge has an unbelievable amount of connections across the river compared to Eastie. A couple of them are one way, but there are still something like 8-9 different bridges. None of them have tolls either. It's much easier to navigate overall.
 

HenryAlan

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Eastie is harder to get to from Boston proper than Cambridge, but only when it comes to walking or cycling. It's very easy to get there by car or Blue Line and is a neighborhood well worth exploring. The largest obstacle is where it resides in our mind space. Everybody thinks of going to Cambridge, people forget that East Boston is there, aside from the airport. And to step out of a narrowly focused, Boston-centric thought process, East Boston is more accessible than Cambridge if you are coming from the North Shore (and a lot of people live up there).
 

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