Suffolk Downs Redevelopment | East Boston

Massachoicetts

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Suggesting Suffolk Downs should be a massive group of 500fters make absolutely no sense.

1. First off, you physically cant. FAA Limits are 200-250ft on the plot.
2. That would look funky.
3. It doesnt fit the area at all
4. Would cause major gridlock
 

DZH22

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Suggesting Suffolk Downs should be a massive group of 500fters make absolutely no sense.

1. First off, you physically cant. FAA Limits are 200-250ft on the plot.
2. That would look funky.
3. It doesnt fit the area at all
4. Would cause major gridlock
Nobody suggested that. The massive group of 500fters should be built downtown to absorb the demand, and this site should be left alone for about 2-3 more decades (maybe after they move the airport, which will never happen, they can redevelop half of East Boston, which should never happen).
 

BarbaricManchurian

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There's enough demand for everywhere. Essentially all growth in the last decade or 2 in Massachusetts is in urban areas and they are getting filled so there's no reason to slow things down just for your desires. Anyway I can't see the PDF yet because the BDPA site is down.
 

Equilibria

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Nobody suggested that. The massive group of 500fters should be built downtown to absorb the demand, and this site should be left alone for about 2-3 more decades (maybe after they move the airport, which will never happen, they can redevelop half of East Boston, which should never happen).
So your argument is that they shouldn't build here at all because it will overload the transportation network, but after a few more decades of growth they should build twice the density currently proposed?
 

stick n move

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Suffolk downs is another part of the “decoupling” of jobs from the core that will lead to a much better more walkable city for everyone. Instead of only a couple cores where everybody works in back bay, downtown, and Kendall, theres going to be a dozen cores spread through every neighborhood in the city so people that live outside of those places will finally be able to walk, bike, or take transit to work, whereas before that was not a realistic option.

With cores springing up in Suffolk downs-Eastie, Beacon yards-Allston, Allston yards-Allston, New Balance-Brighton, Andrew sq-Southie, Dot ave corridor-Southie, Broadway-Southie, Seaport-Southie, Jfk/Bayside expo site/the beat-Dorchester, Assembly/Xmbly-Somerville, Northpoint-Cambridge, Ink block-South end, flower exch-South end, Riverside-Newton, Arsenal yards-Watertown, Alewife-Cambridge, Union sq-Somerville, Kendall-Cambridge

..... and more, theres going to be plenty of job cores close to where people live, vs the old way where jobs and housing werent near eachother. For example when the bayside/jfk site is developed people from Dorchester will finally be able to walk to work, whereas before they had to go downtown or to Cambridge. Same with Eastie and Suffolk downs, now Eastie will have its own core where the people who live there can walk to work. I fully support this shift towards decentralized cities, as it will make cities better accessible and more livable for everyone.
 

DZH22

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So your argument is that they shouldn't build here at all because it will overload the transportation network, but after a few more decades of growth they should build twice the density currently proposed?
I always found you to be one of the more impressive posters on this site, but I am really disappointed with you today. Having an off day?

Step 1: Satisfy the current and near-future demand in spots that make more sense. This includes downtown (particularly wasteland that still surrounds North Station), Kendall, Kenmore, Fenway, South End/NY Streets, and North Point. There is an absolute ton of room to absorb so much more in these areas, and keep it all concentrated on the transit hubs. We could easily have 20+ years of steady building before we have any sort of need to turn to a recovered wasteland like Suffolk Downs.

Step 2: Move the airport (which I said was likely never going to happen)

Step 3: Contingent on Step 2 happening, which it won't... Redevelop the open space in Eastie, which could include a lot of transportation reconfiguration to get there. Nowhere did I suggest putting the 500'ers into East Boston, although technically moving the airport would lift those height limits. However, as long as the airport is there, and the roads to the airport and in the surrounding neighborhoods are choked beyond belief, then development should happen elsewhere. Removing the airport would ease the traffic considerably in the short term, and allow for additional connecting routes across the harbor.

My ulterior motive, of course, is to see more tall and higher quality development downtown. This newly planned neighborhood is probably the least inspiring yet, an even stumpier version of the Seaport or North Point. As long as we build a steady stream of crap in the outward neighborhoods, there is less incentive to tackle the transformative (but difficult) possibilities downtown. Like, why bother trying to get a 60 story residential built near MGH when you could make a quick buck with a flimsy 5 over 1 in an outer neighborhood? I'm sick of the 5 over 1's. I wish they would outlaw this building method in the city and force developers to go 7+ floors, encouraging not just height and density but QUALITY. Is there a single noteworthy building in this entire development? Do we want to stifle developments like the upcoming State Street Tower so we can get more Burlington/Waltham-type developments in East Boston? This site is called "ARCH"Boston which stands for architecture, and the architecture here stinks!

This is like the opposite of the Hurley Building thread. Over there that building is strictly a stand-alone piece that turns its back to the city, but has architectural merit (to some). For Suffolk Downs it's more utilitarian, like who the hell cares what it looks like or what it stifles as long as it adds some square footage? Boston should be better than that. Boston's strength is the combination of beautiful architecture with a form that encourages thriving neighborhoods. Nothing here is beautiful. Nothing here will ever be beautiful. The State Street building will be beautiful. 1 Dalton is beautiful. Millennium Tower (except the open top) is beautiful. The Copley Square Tower would have been possibly the most beautiful one of all. A beautiful city is something that everybody can be proud of, even if we don't necessarily all use every single aspect of it. This development is just millions of square feet of dreck. Why are we in such a rush to develop more charmless dreck? Why are we in such a rush to water down Boston's beauty while allowing un/under-developed sites downtown to falter indefinitely?

Sometimes I feel like I am arguing with a bunch of robots who can only compute numbers, but can't see the forest for the trees. We can do so much better, but cookie cutter crap like this sucks away the demand FROM the better possibilities. It's like, if you don't have any standards, go move to some ugly city like Toronto and leave Boston to its most prideful citizens. I personally have way too much pride in the aesthetics of this city to applaud this POS redevelopment. If anything, just build the soccer stadium here and be done with it.
 

Equilibria

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You said it in one sentence in the middle there: you don't care about building a city, you care about building tall towers. This site cannot accommodate tall towers, ergo this site, which sits well within Boston's urban core, within the city limits, on an underutilized subway line with direct (and near exclusive) use of two underutilized and fully-upgraded subway stations, should remain empty decades into the future, until such time as the city spends fifty billion dollars to build an airport somewhere else, lifting the FAA height limits and allowing for the construction of yet more tall towers.

Even if you built 600 feet on every empty lot near MGH, you still need this, because that's still not that many units and the rents would still be much higher there. No one ever said that building at Suffolk Downs prevents building One Congress, least of all HYM, which is the single developer building both projects simultaneously.

FWIW, I'm not 100% on-board with Edward, but the swipe at Toronto was uncalled for.
 

Rover

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The ultimate goal of this property is to build 10,000 new units. I don't care if that's made up of 500 footers or yerts. The city does not have the luxury of waiting 20 years until the proposal fits everyone's architectural preferences. Nor can it wait for some vague transit fix to happen especially since its already on the Blue Line. As Dr. Spock once said (and who cut his teeth as an affordable housing advocate on the planet Vulcan before he joined Starfleet) "the good of the many outweighs the good of the one". Just start building already.
 

DBM

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This development is just millions of square feet of dreck... can't see the forest for the trees.
Count me as one of those who can't see any forest here. You know what I do see when I survey the immediate surrounding landscape?

1.) Lots of petrochem tanks
2.) Lots of light industrial hangars/sheds servicing Logan
3.) A trailer park
4.) A significant public housing development on the north slope of Orient Heights
5.) Lots of LNG (I think?) tankers trafficking Chelsea Creek all the time to offload

It's not the South End, it's not Back Bay, it's not the Theater District. The nearest cultural venue is a casino. Let's be realistic.
 

DZH22

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It's not the South End, it's not Back Bay, it's not the Theater District. The nearest cultural venue is a casino. Let's be realistic.
Nobody here seems to understand my argument. You point out that the area, as currently constituted, SUCKS. Well, you know what doesn't suck yet has a ton of empty, development ready lots? Downtown near NS, downtown near SS, Fenway, Kenmore, Kendall.... I'd rather see all efforts poured into further developing the actual core of the city before putting millions of square feet into a currently empty outpost. There's a reason the Amazon bid lost spectacularly. Suffolk Downs IS NOT part of the core city, and never will be!

I used to walk all the way to and from downtown from as far as Davis Square in Somerville. I wouldn't even know where to begin if I wanted to walk downtown from East Boston. Is that even possible? It feels more disconnected than Cambridge/Somerville because IT IS MORE DISCONNECTED than Cambridge/Somerville!

By the way, hey look, here's that article the Blue Line! Let's add 10,000 more housing units right onto the Blue Line! Wow what a great idea! This sure is the place to build and build and build! But seriously, unless you (all of you cheerleaders) are ready to address the below article, then stop talking to me.
https://www.universalhub.com/2019/full-bursting-blue-line-people-maverick-watch


FWIW, I'm not 100% on-board with Edward, but the swipe at Toronto was uncalled for.
I don't know who Edward is, but as far as I'm concerned a swipe at Toronto is always called for. I see that city everyday on SSC, and it's literally the dullest, cheapest city I have seen in North America. I went in person in 2002 and Mississauga is by far my least favorite place I have visited in my entire life. When you look up the word "sterile" in the dictionary, there's a picture of Toronto. It looks like all of the development of the last 2 decades used 1 single architect, 1 single (cheap) glass supplier, and just hit the copy/paste button way too many times to count. It's absolutely awful. There is nothing about Toronto worth emulating.
 

Rover

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Nobody here seems to understand my argument. You point out that the area, as currently constituted, SUCKS. Well, you know what doesn't suck yet has a ton of empty, development ready lots? Downtown near NS, downtown near SS, Fenway, Kenmore, Kendall.... I'd rather see all efforts poured into further developing the actual core of the city before putting millions of square feet into a currently empty outpost. There's a reason the Amazon bid lost spectacularly. Suffolk Downs IS NOT part of the core city, and never will be!

I used to walk all the way to and from downtown from as far as Davis Square in Somerville. I wouldn't even know where to begin if I wanted to walk downtown from East Boston. Is that even possible? It feels more disconnected than Cambridge/Somerville because IT IS MORE DISCONNECTED than Cambridge/Somerville!

By the way, hey look, here's that article the Blue Line! Let's add 10,000 more housing units right onto the Blue Line! Wow what a great idea! This sure is the place to build and build and build! But seriously, unless you (all of you cheerleaders) are ready to address the below article, then stop talking to me.
https://www.universalhub.com/2019/full-bursting-blue-line-people-maverick-watch
Is this a good time to point out that the world doesn't revolve around you and your specific vision of neighborhood redevelopment?

BTW reading the comments of that article it was a signal problem causing Blue Line delays. The T obviously needs work, but its a fools errand to think people will stop moving to Boston because of a shitty transit system. If that was true this place would have turned into a ghost town 30 years ago!
 

DZH22

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Is this a good time to point out that the world doesn't revolve around you and your specific vision of neighborhood redevelopment?
I have an opinion which I am entitled to. I go out of my way to actually attempt to defend my opinions, which most people seem too lazy to bother doing. You have an opinion that doesn't match my opinion. Guess what, just like me, YOU ARE JUST ONE PERSON. So the world doesn't revolve around you either, and you don't speak for everybody else! You are allowed to present your opinion, just like I am! Each individual is allowed to agree or disagree with these opinions! So if you want to counter my opinion, go ahead. But resorting to direct personal attacks like this just means you're the one being a dick. Aside from (logically) pointing that out, I refuse to stoop to your level.
 

odurandina

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Transit Q:
Would the Blue Line benefit from one or two sidings in the Suffolk Downs development with the coming Blue Line extension?
Nobody here seems to understand my argument. You point out that the area, as currently constituted, SUCKS. Well, you know what doesn't suck yet has a ton of empty, development ready lots? Downtown near NS, downtown near SS, Fenway, Kenmore, Kendall.... I'd rather see all efforts poured into further developing the actual core of the city before putting millions of square feet into a currently empty outpost. There's a reason the Amazon bid lost spectacularly. Suffolk Downs IS NOT part of the core city, and never will be!
This. The Cycle is just as much about Boston sprawling out as the Core rising.
i suspect that's the empty feeling from the never ending sucking sound that has disappointed so many and continues to piss people off.

jpdivola from the interwebs said:
On a somewhat related note on Boston construction. I think the boom although impressive in aggregate construction has been a little "inefficient" as "scaling up" Boston. Boston lags behind SF (and Philly) in terms of "big city" feel. This boom hasn't done as much as I hoped to close the gap. Infilling Seaport is great, but it has gone from parking lots to an OK, but not that vibrant area. Meanwhile the projects in the existing core that would have helped created more of a "BOOM, welcome to the big city" feel in Back Bay/Fenway have languished: Copley Tower, the various towers at Mass/Boylston, Back Bay station, the various Stuart Street area proposals, the Huntington theater tower project, the Charlesgate tower proposal, the Fenway Center tower, the Kenmore Square hotel towers, etc. These would have helped "extend" the city, less the Boston's "kinda small and dull" reputation it has.
 
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George_Apley

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Nobody here seems to understand my argument. You point out that the area, as currently constituted, SUCKS. Well, you know what doesn't suck yet has a ton of empty, development ready lots? Downtown near NS, downtown near SS, Fenway, Kenmore, Kendall.... I'd rather see all efforts poured into further developing the actual core of the city before putting millions of square feet into a currently empty outpost. There's a reason the Amazon bid lost spectacularly. Suffolk Downs IS NOT part of the core city, and never will be!
What or whose "efforts" are you talking about here? We don't have a central authority designating who builds what, where and when. Thank the stars. And don't try to say that the BPDA or the ZBA is that. They're important gatekeepers, but they don't put out calls for proposals. Developments get proposed because someone who owns land wants to build something that they see a demand for and that they can finance. If there are empty lots in the urban core it's because the owner doesn't want to build, or can't finance the type of build that's in demand. (Yes, I know that the BPDA and ZBA have a role in making financing difficult by serving as political roadblocks, but that's beside the point. The city doesn't tell developers "no don't develop there, develop here first.")

I used to walk all the way to and from downtown from as far as Davis Square in Somerville. I wouldn't even know where to begin if I wanted to walk downtown from East Boston. Is that even possible? It feels more disconnected than Cambridge/Somerville because IT IS MORE DISCONNECTED than Cambridge/Somerville!

By the way, hey look, here's that article the Blue Line! Let's add 10,000 more housing units right onto the Blue Line! Wow what a great idea! This sure is the place to build and build and build! But seriously, unless you (all of you cheerleaders) are ready to address the below article, then stop talking to me.
https://www.universalhub.com/2019/full-bursting-blue-line-people-maverick-watch
East Boston is just as connected as Cambridge and Somerville by two modes (driving and transit) and less connected by two others (walking and biking). While I love walkability, I didn't know it was a prerequisite for being "connected" to other neighborhoods. Just because you can walk to Davis Square doesn't mean that very many people ever do that. Cambridge and Somerville are far more walkable than the northern parts of East Boston, but that's because it's historically underdeveloped.
 

DZH22

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What or whose "efforts" are you talking about here? We don't have a central authority designating who builds what, where and when. Thank the stars. And don't try to say that the BPDA or the ZBA is that. They're important gatekeepers, but they don't put out calls for proposals. Developments get proposed because someone who owns land wants to build something that they see a demand for and that they can finance. If there are empty lots in the urban core it's because the owner doesn't want to build, or can't finance the type of build that's in demand. (Yes, I know that the BPDA and ZBA have a role in making financing difficult by serving as political roadblocks, but that's beside the point. The city doesn't tell developers "no don't develop there, develop here first.")
I'm just saying that I would like to see it languish for... a long time. I'm not saying it's going to happen that way or that I know of any specific means to make that happen. However, in my perfect world, the lack of development in areas such as this would spur a greater sense of urgency to speed up development in the core.

I guess I see construction in places such as Suffolk Downs as siphoning off the demand that could otherwise be met in larger/taller projects that are more within the main parts of the city. We have already seen it the last few years with the Seaport, as those fat boxes continue unabated (at least the designs are evolving/improving) while stuff I'm more excited about, like Copley Place Tower and 1000 Boylston Street, end up on the scrap heap. There are only so many local resources that can be allocated toward construction, and every one of them that is allocated towards huge, yet uninspiring projects such as Suffolk Downs, probably means that another tower I was looking forward to downtown might be delayed/cancelled. I feel like growth in these outer neighborhoods has been to the detriment of growth in the heart of downtown. We are obviously seeing improvements, but we could be seeing even more (and more quickly) if we weren't instead embracing this idea of sprawl-growth.

In short, my walks around downtown aren't improved by building a landscraper in Suffolk Downs. My pictures of downtown aren't improved by building a landscraper in Suffolk Downs. The general view of Boston as kind of stodgy and not cutting edge is not improved by building a landscraper in Suffolk Downs. My arguments with those scumbags on sites such as SSC are not improved by building a landscraper in Suffolk Downs. So... there's my own personal motivations in a nutshell. This is just going to become a crummy, faceless neighborhood that could be built on any square mile in the entire country. It doesn't move the needle from an excitement perspective. I would rather see the city get further stitched together and also LOOK BIGGER than keep starting up these new neighborhoods from scratch that take decades to integrate.
 

bdurden

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Suffolk Downs is not improved by building a mega skyscraper in the core of Boston. Having to decide between one or the other is a false choice.
 

stefal

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Suffolk Downs is not improved by building a mega skyscraper in the core of Boston. Having to decide between one or the other is a false choice.
Who is arguing this? I haven't read anyone saying this.
 

stefal

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Have you not been following?
I have been. DZH isn't arguing for 500' buildings in this location. He's arguing for valuable architecture and development, among other things that I personally question if they're an issue.

When I look at these plans, I'm not entirely sure this is what's suitable for this site. Not in terms of transportation, there's plenty of that, but rather in terms of scale and design. I know we say this for a lot of the twenty-first century developments, but the superblock development scheme is really out of place here, especially for designers working with a blank slate comparable to the Seaport, which we have mostly/generally agreed has its flaws, big amd/or small. Assembly, which I've seen time and time again that this development is comparable to Assembly, seems to work more in its context and location than this would as Assembly doesn't really directly abut small-scale neighborhoods. I don't know what a small scale neighborhood that meets the market demands for offices and residential units should look like, but this current scheme doesn't fit and should be re-assessed. Also, I know they've done their work and research, but are they just sticking to the amount of office space here because it was born out of Amazon HQ2 and they don't want to admit their wrongs? Or do they genuinely believe there is enough demand for this much large scale office space in East Boston/Orient Heights?

Small, yet dense, human-scale developments headed by separate developers in an organic manner and pace is more suitable. Would you want to live in this neighborhood, as currently designed? I'd pass.
 

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