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Developers propose nearly 1,600 residential units at old South Boston power plant

L Street proposal

Architect's rendering. See it larger.

The developers working on transforming the 15-acre Boston Edison power-plant site today filed formal plans with the BPDA and state environmental regulators for 2.1 million square feet of development, including 1,588 residential units, a 150-room hotel, 340,000 square feet of office space and 68,000 square feet of retail, 987 parking spaces and more than an acre of public space along the Reserved Channel.

In their filing, developers Hilco Global and Redgate Capital Partners said they would mostly tear down the current behemoth structures - except for the historic early-20th-century "turbine hall" - and replace them with eight blocks of building, with three residential buildings reaching 20 or 21 stories.

The filing states the units will be split between apartments and condos.

The developers estimate the total buildout will take 10 to 15 years once the project is approved by both city and state regulators - they hope to begin work next year. They write they would start with renovation of the turbine hall and construction of residential units along East 1 Street, "to re-link the Site to the neighborhood and create an active edge."

Hilco and Redgate are counting on residents and visitors using public transit - and bicycling and their feet:

The Project Site has convenient public transit access and is located approximately 0.5 miles from the Silver Line at Design Center Place, and 1.5 miles to South Station, which provides access to the Red Line, Silver Line, commuter and passenger rails, Amtrak, and local and regional bus service. The Project Site is also located along local bus routes that provide access to South Station, which facilitates opportunities to minimize vehicle trips and encourages alternative modes of travel.

Because of the site's location on the Reserved Channel, the developers said they are taking several steps to deal with potential flooding, including having the first floors be three feet higher than an anticipated "100-year flood" in 2070, putting emergency generators on the roof - and electrical systems in general higher than the 100-year-flood level, giving units windows that can be opened by hand should the power go out, and making sure plantings along the channel can survive saltwater inundation.

Also planned: An emphasis on art and start-up industry:

To further its goal of creating an Arts and Industry district at the Site, the Proponent will make available both indoor and outdoor space for local artists, artisans and makers. This will include floor spaces for both local individuals and organizations to be located on-site, as well as spaces for the performance, display or sale of their work. This is in addition to making outdoor spaces available for Arts and Industry uses, which will be programmed in a complementary manner.

From the filing:

Map
L Street
L Street recreation

776 L Street project notification form (24M PDF).

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 

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Comments

for 1600 units, hotel, arts center and public restaurants and businesses is not enough and not what the developers have been leading the community on to. This site is a mile from any MBTA station and on a bus route with the most congested buses so please stop it with the transit orientated development bullshit.
On a positive note, 1600 units would keep the yuppies out of the neighborhoods.

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...dumping nearly 1,000 cars into an already congested area with public transportation nearby? Sorry, but that is just asinine. Of course it will be 'affordable' ...for the wealthy to have yet another pied à terre, lol! Yawn: cue the pro-developers crowd and their angry pitchforks.

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Is completely overburdened in this area already. I am all for this development and additional housing, but something has to be done to the silver line and SB bus routes that are full after two stops. To be fair it is not the developer's fault the city did not properly plan for this level of development in the Seaport, nor does the city really have a clue about how to resolve the issue. Track 61 is not going into operation anytime soon beyond train testing....

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Agreed. It is great large developments are going in sort of near the city center, but this area is not served well by public transit. I don't ride buses in this area, but I can't imagine the MBTA being able to handle the volume of people this development will bring.

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The T will need a lot more #7 & #9 buses to handle this area, and there's got to be another grocery store for the area, a small Stop & Shop can't handle the entire area + all the people moving to this new development.

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I imagine that most of the new residents would walk into the S&S on Broadway, take one quick look around and then never return. It's in no danger.

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Is it ever going to end. South boston was truly one and only town where we new everyone and hekped our fellow man in need. Remember the days when we wiuld have 1,2,or 3 times a week the town would get together and have a big time for the family who got burnt out or the parents of a sick child or the guy who lost hid job and could not put food on the table for his family. This town went out of there way to help each and every member of this great town and home i call southie most surly my home town. I remember the first talks of the BIG fan pier how it will put southie on the map how property values will go up and all this great stuff but from my my point of view it only tore this town apart. Everyone was talking about how rents where going up houses being sold and torn down to build so called cindos. In a very short period of time the price of a home doubled and then tripled and so. Then the price of an apartment went from $375-$600 to $1900-$2500 and still climbing. When was the people of this town going to put there foot down almost everyone got on the money wagon is what i called it sell sell sell. Then i heard them say i should have waited i could have sold house for anither $100.000 six months later $200.000 thiusand more than the five ĥundred thiusand i sold it for when at a short time ago he bought that house for $70.000. Greed hit southie hard very hard the cons running around stealing homes from the elderly going to there door and asking to by there home finding out how much they paid for it back in 1939 and telling them they will give them four times the cist they bought it for sounds good right back then the house went for $ 4700.00. They would buy for $18400 paint it and sell for $175000.00 this bullshit happened over snd over that same hiuse later sold for$525000.00 what they did with it tore it down and put up new and sold each unit for up to $900000.00 each this happened in a blink of an eye that house you had was worth more if it was never their cause the exspence to tear it down played in they where buying lots for $500-700 thousand. No one coukd afford rent her anymore now its full of thick headed people who wont even say hi back to you when you try to be nice most of them not all whos who in southie i know few people here when back in the 60 s 70,80,90 s i knew most people. When was the last time i was at a time for a guy or girl in southie that was down on ther luck. Do we pull together anymore for these people or are they all gone and all thats left ate people who are well off and can afford to live here. Please say hi back when someone says it to you you are no better than that person and i dont care how much money you have maybe im old fashioned and if so im glad i am. Southie my home town seems no more tragedy of money and greed i hear a lot of old southie residents say that if i coukd do it over i would never of sold out because there truly never be another town like southie again. Thanks may all you sobos have a great day

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South boston was truly one and only town where we new everyone and hekped our fellow man in need.

I bet you could say that about pretty much any neighborhood where people spend more than a couple years there. Like my block, for example. Or much of the rest of Roslindale, and, for that matter, large swaths of the entire city, I imagine. Most people really are just good people.

There are many good things about South Boston, and I can sympathize with the loss of what was, but, no, Southie really wasn't ever more special than every place else.

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I drive by this site every day to work. The self-organized line of people waiting to get on the bus at Broadway and L is insane most mornings. a whole bus worth of people at one stop, and you KNOW they aren't all getting on the bus, hence the line. Then the bus gets to go down further and pull up to THIS place where there will be 1600+ new people waiting to use it? HAHAHAHAHAHA Oh Boston.....
Oh but the MBTA "doesn't know what they'd do with more money!"
Bwahahahaha
and "How do we increase ridership?" hahahahaha
This comedy writes itself....

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Do you have a better idea to try to reduce the cost of housing (assuming that is what you would want)? Housing is always affordable for the wealthy. There are thousands of new residents moving to Boston each year (as there have been each year for the past decade), and many of them are wealthy enough to compete for housing with their pocket book. If you are ok with the the fact that these new wealthy residents will out-compete middle and working class people for the best housing and best locations, then I understand your position. Frankly, I would end up just fine. However, if you don't feel that way, there is really no other solution than to build more housing to accommodate these new wealthy residents. And what they want, not surprisingly, is housing for the wealthy. Had we been in this development mode for the past 10-15 years we would not be in this situation now. But here we are. The population of Boston changed, and development did not keep up (some would say it was prevented from keeping up by the City to placate people who just didn't want change to happen). And now we have to build like crazy and wait for the market to correct, as it is starting to do in the rental market where the demand for older units is dropping.

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that today's "luxury apartments" are tomorrow's crack houses. Look at all the fancy apartment buildings built in the 60s and 70s...they are hellholes.
Housing is housing is housing.

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Yes, 50 or 60 years from now, the luxury apartment i'm living in could be in disrepair. It could also be impeccably maintained and I'm guessing charging way more in monthly rent. You really have your finger on the pulse of the real estate market Marco.

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I know I am no sage, but something tells me these eyesore condo buildings going up everywhere will be tomorrows "deal" apartments, what with their "high quality" finishes, plastic pre-fab facades, gorgeous views of train yards, recycling plants, and shipping containers, as well as the walkable neighborhoods their going up in, won't be driving prices through the roof.
take a stroll through The Atrium in Allston:
https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3522523,-71.124414,3a,75y,1h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sV2FEG2AznuauZnQ022mTMQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

last time I was in there it looked like the carpet had remained the same since 1973.

Lookit these GORGEOUS buildings in my neighborhood, Mattapan:
https://www.google.com/maps/@42.2714798,-71.0757457,3a,75y,180h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s5SbyW8YheSyehDwBxkpeJw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.2715042,-71.0765792,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sEg1bsO172aJNQM4ivVYwGA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

MMM..yeah, landlords and Building owners LOVE spending money on upkeep. Condo Associations too! I'm sure in 40 years AT LEAST 90% of what's being built today will remain top notch!
You're right I'M SUCH A FOOL....

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Many places are not going to be affordable to everyone.

Building a bunch of housing is not a realistic solution every time housing prices go up.

There's also the crowding that people here already mentioned.

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would keep the yuppies out of the neighborhoods

We already took the neighborhoods over. Ever notice how there is less crime, less racism, less drugs...etc.?

You're welcome.

- A South Boston community member.

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Your name now says "FORMERLY - SoBo Yuppie". Can't put enough stress on the word formerly because you're a pitch perfect example of why ACTUAL Bostonians get irritated with gentrification & "yuppies" of your nature - because you leave!! Try making SOUTHIE your home for more than just a couple years before calling yourself a member of the neighborhood.

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The day you pull your U-Haul up to the front door. There's not seniority system in real estate. Just because you've lived there long than me, doesn't mean you get bonus points.

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You are a member of the neighborhood when you notice that the guy who just moved in last week can't be bothered with disposing of their trash in such a way that it doesn't end up scattered all over the street and you do something about it. If you can do that the day you moved in the more power to you. Pick your task, everyone will do something different, but there are ways to be a part of a neighborhood. Unloading a Uhaul is necessary, but far from sufficient.

Many of the people moving in to expensive apartments and condos just see it as a place to park their butt and not as a place to live as part of a neighborhood.

Edit:
Case in point in regards to moving in, but not being part of the neighborhood.

http://www.universalhub.com/2015/garbage-hurling-slob-beacon-hill-put-no...

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You're a member of the Southie neighborhood after your first time double-parking on Broadway, as of course is a tradition long cherished in the neighborhood.

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notice that the guy who just moved in last week can't be bothered with disposing of their trash in such a way that it doesn't end up scattered all over the street

Those are suburbanites bros who I am no fan enough so we agree there.

Also, I always notice life long residents flicking their cigarette butts all over the sidewalk. Just the other day as I was walking home from getting my man-bun trimmed, I saw a townie flip his butt right in front a mom with kids as they were walking into the library. Of couse, he was wearing a Patriots shirt. Another reason to root for the Steelers.

- A South Boston Community member

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No, I never noticed. I left the neighborhood when I sold my $30,000 tenement building to some sucker for $500,000 and never looked back. You're welcome.

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Hope your new town job will be fine with the shrinking rural tax base. That is unless you commute 2 hours on 93 and the pike now.

Meanwhile, that stooge walks to work in 30 min with a nice cool sea breeze every morning, and strolls in home at 5:30.

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Same lame old unoriginal comment that speaks more about your own feelings about being a transplant.

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It may be same, it may be unoriginal but it is the truth. It's funny how life long south boston residents think the neighborhood was some garden of eden before gentrification.

Racism, Murders, Worshiping a guy who strangled a 24 year old girl, Drugs, Corrupt Feds, throwing rocks at kids on a school bus, homophobia....i could go on and on.

- A South Boston Community member.

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Every post of yours for the last few weeks contained some variation of "Go Capitals" and "Go Wizards".....what the hell happened?!?!?!?

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you must mean Senators. I don't really follow sports but I think the Senators ended the Bruins season.

Can't wait to see Lebron smack the Celtics around! Hopefully its a sweep because whenever there is a Celtics playoff game the quality of life goes down in my neighborhood. I don't think my elderly neighbors should have to put up with all the 20-something that come in from Dorchester.

Go Cavs!

- A South Boston community member

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I confused Senators with Capitals because my buddy won't shut up about them (and I apologize for confusing you for a friend of mine).

I hope that every Boston team has great success as long as you live in South Boston. You live near Broadway T stop, right? I'll come down and cheer loudly for all teams whenever I get the chance.

-You have a lot of different names....weird.

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you weren't cheering last night!! LOL.

It was hilarious watching the Celtics get blown out by the Cavs!

Go Cavs! Go Senators!

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A congested bus line is the best place to build big. The additional load makes it possible to increase the frequency of bus service, which improves service for everyone.

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First off, I'm very happy to see this place go away. The plant, together with the old MBTA power plant (razed years ago) made many people in our neighborhood very sick. Good bye and good riddance.
The developers talk about people using and having access to public transportation. Presently this just is not true. The bus lines are not keeping pace with demand. They're packed each morning and afternoon. The Silver Line over in the Ray Flynn Marine Park is a joke.
The reality is that this project will add to an already overburdened public transportation system that fails everyday to meet demand. Granted this development, according to the principals, will take years to complete, but what will happen in the meantime?
Another thing that isn't mentioned is the ongoing expansion of Conley Terminal by Massport. The container facility is being upgraded to accommodate more and larger ships. Conley has been and continues to operate for 24 hours a day year round.
At some point the new residents down there are going to get fed up with all the noise, vehicle traffic (a new haul road is ready to open for trailer truck traffic) and just all around maritime activity. When they do start to complain, the possibility of court action to curtail maritime/port activity is likely.
I think the project has many merits. The size of it is a bit troublesome and the way things are around South Boston presently this thing will no doubt be built as proposed.

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The solution to overcrowded transit isn't to build less housing. That will just drive up prices and force housing into the suburbs where driving is an absolute necessity and the only way to address the additional cars is by widening the roads. No, the right way to address overcrowded public transit (which is ultimately a good problem to have) is to IMPROVE THE TRANSIT.

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Not really true. The solution to overcrowding is not to make things even more crowded, and there's not going to be an extra amount of housing in other places if it's not allowed there. The more housing you build the more expensive it is to improve the other commuting options.

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That diagonal slash in yellow on the above image is where (on one set of plans at least) the rail line to Conley will run. If or when such a thing would even happen...

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That's the new haul road bridge to Conley Terminal from Summer to take truck traffic off of E 1st St.

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Good thing the MBTA is adding seven busses!

I like this project and can't wait for the neighborhood to have access to more public space and the harbor.

That said, any approval needs to require guaranteed (for whatever it's worth) public transportation expansion. Get a trolly going down summer street again. Expand the routes we already have.

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Affordable? Because if not then don't even bother calling it an art district for aspiring artists. Boston needs to come up with some comparable form of rent control because this city is to small & scumbag landlords seem to be the only ones benefiting from all of these new condo associations popping up.

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They have to make a certain percentage affordable (13%?) - or put the equivalent amount in a BPDA affordable-housing fund.

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The best solution would be some sort of tax surcharge for non-owner occupied rental properties to make properties less attractive to investors and more attractive to homeowners.

Affordable (with a capital A) housing gives too great a benefit to too few people.

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Non-resident owners (2nd home or rental) pay $2500 more each year in property tax than owner-occupiers. See: http://bmrb.org/boston-adopts-35-residential-exemption-for-fy17/

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Or put some kind of surcharge on buyers who aren't residents, or don't even rent them out.

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The city already does this with the owner occupant exemption. Jacking up the fee would crowd out small family landlords in favor of larger corporate entities and wealthy absentee investors.

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You could put fees on those investors.

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10 years? They have plenty of time to come up with other public transport options.

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Why not add a water taxi from South Station/downtown to/from this area? It seems having a water taxi system along the Seaport District could do a lot to alleviate traffic and bus overcrowding without requiring too much investment in physical infrastructure.

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IMAGE(http://media.viajenaviagem.com.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/vaporetto.jpg)

Added advantage: sea level rise and "Acqua Alta" events do not disrupt service like flooded streets do.

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This is excellent!

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Like from Charlestown to Long Wharf.

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I agree with the water taxi / ferry idea but wondering how close any vessel in the Fort Point Channel could get to South Station during high tide. I'm not sure what the latest plan is for the Northern Avenue Bridge but the Moakley Bridge is fixed so that would seem to be the end point. They could probably use Rowes Wharf with the other ferries but that's a hike from South Station. Regardless, the developer should pay for any new service.

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Moakey Bridge is tall enough for a water taxi to get under. It's the old swing Northern Ave Bridge and the now fixed lift Congress Street bridge which is the issue getting close to South Station. There would need to be a terminal behind the Federal Reserve or squeezed into the space between the Intercontinental hotel and the Tea Party Museum.

It makes a lot of sense to run a water taxi system along the South Boston Piers and the rest of the inner harbor. We are talking minimal investment to create a high capacity line with maybe 10 minute headways and even maybe a north-south rail-airport link

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Now fixed lift Congress Street Bridge?

Even before the recent rebuild that made it officially a fixed span, the drawbridge span hadn't been raised since 1959 or thereabouts.

Isn't there a water taxi landing at Necco Court? I think water taxis can clear under center span of both Congress St and Summer St at all but the highest tides.

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Boston has a water taxi service. I used to drive it. It's been a while, but we had a dock in the reserved channel where we would pick up and drop off for cruise ships. It was a very long trip out and around the end of the channel and back, and we had to charge double to do it, and even then we still probably lost money. It would be much more efficient to add a proper separated bus rapid transit lane down Summer St all the way to South Station with maybe 2 or 3 stops on it. But we'll never do that, because every inch of the street must be dedicated to cars!

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Agreed. I think people are underestimating how long it takes to maneuver in/out of these piers via boat, and if you're putting it on the end of the channels - basically nobody lives there, so it would be a hassle to walk 20 minutes or so to get there and then take a 20-minute boat ride.

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Too much parking
Too much parking

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Developer pays for improved transit. In this case, more busses, or restarting the SL3 that ran into Southie. Run the 7 bus every 3 minutes.

Summer St is not particularly long in any case. Residents that work in the seaport won't need busses.

This is an awesome development for a growing city. And from it's scale, likely relatively affordable if the NIMBYs don't cut it down too much.

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"Residents that work in the seaport won't need busses"

That's insane, so during a snowstorm or thunderstorm you expect people to walk a mile?

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You expect them to stand around in the wet and cold waiting?

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We're rugged New Englanders, are we not?

That said options are nice.

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That's like a 20 minute walk - no problem and faster than most people's commute. Get an umbrella and a good pair of boots (you should own these things anyway if you live in the Northeast) and you'll be fine.

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Ha! Developers will never pay, even if they agree to in order to get their project pushed through. Their tactic is to stall by putting their lawyers on it and dragging it out in court for years costing city tax payers big money fighting it.

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Growing isn't always desirable and doesn't benefit everyone, especially if some of the desirability is that it's not as other places. Not nearly all opposition to every proposal is NIMBY when you are considering everything else.

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Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven't heard it. I mean, I just ... I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good.

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That's not a practical explanation about how to overcome the real challenges associated with growth in an area that is already struggling with it.

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Much of the overcrowding on the 9/10 are people just trying to get to Broadway to pick up the red line.

Anything that alleviates that commute into Broadway will cascade to all the other busses in Southie.

Having an local fast option from East Broadway to run down summer street directly to South Station would greatly improve transit in South Boston IMO. Hell, it's what they did back in the day when people needed to get downtown. And it's not even fancy, as it's a double wide street that moves traffic well even during rush hour.

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If you read the PDF, the developers are saying the alternative is either doing nothing with the environmental eyesore or putting in offices and 1500 parking spots (good luck with that traffic!), so this seems like better than those alternatives. I would imagine that providing the open harbor space would be costly, but most of the cost is tied into environmental remediation.
On public transit: If they run a ton of 7 & 9 buses on bus-only lanes, then this really can be transit-oriented development. The routes are direct and quick. If you had signal right of way, a bus lane and plenty of buses, you could get to So. Station in 5 minutes. And Back Bay in 15 minutes. It's just a matter of investment. Perhaps the developers can help find a private/public partnership solution to this. Also: Adding a more direct pedestrian walkway to the end of the Silver Line would be useful to these prospective residents as well.
A couple of lingering issues that maybe people know the answer to:
- They're talking about three 20- to 21-story buildings for the residences. How does the FAA allow that so close to Logan? (I know Massport already needs to issue a waiver for this.)
- Why is there not already public access to all parts of the Reserved Channel (aside from Conley)? I thought public waterfront access was a public right under Chapter 91?

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At 20-21 it will not be any taller than the existing smoke stacks.

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They may have to get waivers, but the airspace map is the starting point.

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Isn't the MBTA creating a bus station at East First / O? I thought I remember an expansion of some sorts, or maybe it's just a waiting area for the buses?

Seems like a great place to do something similar to Kenmore, now that this is going in. Pair it with dedicated service right down L and Summer Street and much of the transportations woes of East Southie are lessened.

As for Massport, it's going to be hard to not allow it when the smoke stack already there, and the cranes at the port, are already taller.

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Right now, the best that they can do is add more buses, Silverline or otherwise. The traffic around Summer/Congress/Seaport Blvd bridges is already insane. Adding more buses isn't going to improve anything. They need some sort of a rail / subway option for the Seaport if they're serious about public transport.

So basically, this development will go forward and public transport will continue to suck.

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More busses would work beautifully if they were in proper bus lanes, but people will flip the fuck out about losing parking / a travel lane and it never comes to fruition.

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This development should be taller and denser.

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Are you high? Obviously you have no clue that there is an airport on the other side of the harbor.

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It's telling to see how this discussion has evolved from the merits of this proposal and the effect the additional residents will have on the neighborhood to the adequacy of the roads and public transportation available. This is inevitable. It's hard to talk about one without the other as the two matters are intricately intertwined. Not only is the improvement of public transportation in Boston a necessity, so is its expansion: new and better buses, trains, boats, new routes including tunnels, ferries and dedicated lanes. But of course the biggest challenge won't be engineering, but political. I would be willing to see my taxes rise if I were convinced that a subsequent improvement in my daily commute would follow, and I think the majority of Greater Boston residents would agree to pay more as well. Unfortunately, the hurdles of experience and resulting cynicism don't make me optimistic.

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