Councilors call for delay in city review of residential development at South Boston power plant

City Councilors Michael Flaherty (at large) and Ed Flynn (South Boston) want the BPDA to shove developer's plans for more than 1,300 condos and apartments at the old L Street power station into a drawer until after the developer and Massport can proved the developers actually have the right to build a giant residential complex next to a truck route feeding into the nearby working port area.

Flaherty - who lives in South Boston - and Flynn said developers Hilco Redevelopment Partners and Redgate Capital Partners have yet to adequately explain how they will mitigate the transportation demands the development - which would also include two hotels and retail space - would put on South Boston's already overburdened roads and transit routes.

Flaherty said BPDA approval before the Massport issue is resolved is like going ahead with a proposal to build on a neighbor's land when the neighbor has yet to sign off on the deal, potentially creating a massive amount of wasted effort by people looking for a say on the proposal

"The community is under siege," and needs a break in which it can be assured the BPDA won't suddenly approve the plans, Flaherty said. "They're meeting'd out. They're meeting'd out. They're also condo'd out, but they're meeting'd out."

"My community wants to make sure they have a voice in this prcess," Flynn said. "There's too much development going on, so many condos going up so fast. ... The transportation system is not able to get our people from South Boston to downtown Boston."

State Sen. Nick Collins (D-South Boston) recently filed a bill that would require Massport to conduct a detailed study of the proposal's impact on the nearby Conley Terminal.

Flaherty and Flynn said that in addition to the local longshoreman's union expressing concern about the port, the union representing MBTA drivers is also raising questions about the impact on South Boston transportation.

Last fall, the two developers proposed dealing with the transportation issues through a new, privately funded bus route from their site to downtown.

The council as a whole agreed with Flaherty and Flynn to hold a formal hearing at which the developers, Massport, MassDOT, the BPDA, the unions and members of the public could discuss a potential halt in the BPDA approval process.

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Comments

Just want to point out that

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Just want to point out that this is the same crew of Southie elected officials that say dedicated bus lanes in Southie are a non-starter. As is congestion pricing. So basically they complain about transportation and congestion but don't actually want to do anything about those issues. Good stuff.

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Voting closed 74

For real. I have no sympathy

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For real. I have no sympathy for these assholes. Reject every move and offer to improve and increase transit, because it means they can't double park in the middle of the road while getting their regulah dunks and scratch tickets, and then whine and complain nobody can get anywhere. Southie is the absolute epitome of new england selfishness writ large

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Voting closed 10

Flynn Wants Double Parking

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Flynn is also the genius who thinks have two lanes on East Broadway encourages speeding and wants East Broadway reduced to one wide lane in each direction with double parking that will slow people down. Not to mention how dangerous that becomes for pedestrians who can't see oncoming traffic due to the double parked car/truck. He also thinks the speed limit should go to 20 mph and that will solve the speeding problem without mentioning how any speed limit is a complete joke with no BPD enforcement. Unbelievable and 'sad' this guy keeps getting elected.

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Sigh.

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When's the Council up for re-election again? Flaherty has got to go. I hope he even finishes lower than Althea.

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Voting closed 21

Some call it BRA some call it BPDA...

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Either way its an agency that councilor Flaherty et al voted to give unlimited powers to for an unlimited amount of time.

Remember that next time you vote.

Imagine if city planning had to be voted on by the city council like in most towns in massachusetts like Watertown for example. Then they would actually have to take responsibility for their actions instead of just taking bigger and bigger paychecks every few years.

Which fools actually believe the garbage being strewn by these people?

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Voting closed 6

Imagine if city planning had

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Imagine if city planning had to be voted on by the city council like in most towns in massachusetts like Watertown for example.

Thank God that is not the case here in Boston. We don't need more NIMBYing like every suburban town engages in. That's why we have a housing crisis.

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Voting closed 8

Too Bad Yuppies Don't Vote in Local Elections

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Transients don't care for local, micro politics. Flynn and Flaherty's tentacles are deep in the OFS crowd and that's not going to change until Southie is further gentrified. Even then it will be next OFS candidate up and they will always side with OFS desires over what the community as a whole actually needs.

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Voting closed 6

So you want the one Councilor

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So you want the one Councilor who actually is responsive and gets things done to go? You must be envious of him!

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Voting closed 6

EZ Solution

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Have a train go to the terminal instead and use that in place of any or all trucks. In lieu of bringing back the urban freight railways we used to have, we really have no business trying to be a shipping port anymore.

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Voting closed 7

Why not water taxis along the

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Why not water taxis along the waterfront instead of buses? North and South Station could easily be connected to the Seaport with water taxis. In fact North Station has an abandoned water taxi dock.

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Voting closed 6

I used to be a water taxi driver

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I also drove the Rowes Wharf Airport water shuttle.

Lots of reasons why prop didn't use the existing service, but it's largely economics. Even at $20 one way per person from North Station to the seaport, we lost money. The water taxi only made money on large groups, our single rides were pretty much a loss leader. The airport water shuttle saw its traffic go down something like 50 or 60% immediately after the Ted Williams tunnel opened. It became an expensive, slow luxury.

I could write volumes about the other issues trying to get people around Boston Harbor by boat, but the long and short of it is that unless you work at converse and live at those new condos next to the ICA, the boat can't compete on total trip time and it can never compete on per passenger cost. And while it's a much more pleasant trip ona 75 degree June day, it is less so ona day like today.

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Trains don’t work in Boston

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Because the trains cannot get past the Prudential tunnel because of the height of a freight car with a container on top.

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Except

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One could easily run single stacked inter-modal trains from the Conley Terminal to Worcester (assuming the tracks were laid down.)

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The containers that get off

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The containers that get off loaded at Conley for the most part go to the end user. Unless Stop and Shop bought a boatload of product and had a rail siding ,you are just spinning wheels. The containers would have to be doubled handled at any rate,

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I'm fairly certain that while

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I'm fairly certain that while double-stacks won't fit, single-stack intermodal would fit just fine. I'm not sure how well it would do passing the high-level platforms at Yawkey, but that's not a non-starter. Also bear in mind that there are other ways besides the Worcester line to get freight into Boston, as evidenced by the fact that Boston has had freight service since the Pru tunnel was built.

Track 61 (the spur into the seaport) actually connects into the Old Colony Main, and could connect to the Fairmount line with some additional trackwork. It was used to bring in construction materials for both BCEC and the Big Dig, and was operated by short line Boston Railway Terminal Corporation until CSX kicked them out in 2006. The state has repeatedly expressed interest in reviving freight service on this line, and even applied for federal grants in the late 2000s.

The Fairmount line has traditionally been how freight trains access Boston from the south and west, including to the Globe until a few years ago, and AmeriCold in Widett Circle might still get some traffic.

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Voting closed 3

Knock it down first

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Take as long as you want planning, replanning, get approvals, whatever - just knock that eye sore down first so we don't have to look at it for another 13 years before anything gets approved.

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Voting closed 10

Nice try

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The place is loaded with asbestos, lead paint, PCB’s and petroleum which the developers have no intentions in removing until their grand scheme is approved.

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Voting closed 7

PREACH!

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We don't care how long it takes to approve, plan, remediate, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Just knock the thing down and figure it out later, it's not that hard.

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Voting closed 2

It's full of more toxic crap

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It's full of more toxic crap than Chernobyl. Do you really want it knocked down fast and half assed before there's new construction to cap off whatever Lovecraftian horror show is in the earth beneath it?

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Voting closed 14

Have you been there in the past few years?

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These developers have already spent millions on abatement and demolition of the existing infrastructure. The amount of material they’ve (legally and safely) removed from the pink turbine hall is immense.

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Voting closed 3

Well

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The MBTA has been looking for a site for a new bus yard. Tear the plant down and these guys can avoid yucky new neighbors, then add a bus depot there so more buses can run down the street solving the transportation problem. Win win.

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Lets see how fast the pols

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Lets see how fast the pols change their minds about a few condos after Hilco threatens to sell the site to a power generation company willing to build a new power plant on the site.

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Voting closed 9

More than a few condos

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Try 1200 condos, s couple of office buildings, hotels and commercial buildings with restaurants, retail and stores. And the kick in the ass....no parking.

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There is no such company

... a power generation company willing to build a new power plant on the site

Since the cost of building and operating equivalent solar and wind plants is becoming less than just the cost of operating a fossil-fuel plant, there are probably no companies foolish enough to build a new fossil-fuel plant in South Boston.

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Voting closed 2

WAAAAAA? Solar & Wind

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UH do you just do these kinds of posts for your own amusement -- are you serious about Wind and Solar?

The modern combined cycle natural gas plant which you could build on the site of the existing plant could power most of Boston and still leave land for development

Let's just ignore the usual argument that wind and solar are utterly unreliable as sources of electricity and we don't have any cost-effective means of storing electric power to be tapped when we need it.

For the purposes of argument -- Take the 18 Acres of land and see how much you could generate with solar or wind or both

First -- Wind

  1. Wind turbine power output is directly and inextricably related to the amount of air that flows through the turbine and how much of it you can slow that air down with your turbine. -- the big turbines are rated at a few MW peak at most
  2. Logan height restrictions means small turbines only -- Individual small turbines are good for PR photos -- that's -- all.each would be of the order of a 100 KW
  3. Put a lot of smallish turbines next to each other and they interfere -- not to say also chopping up a lot of seagulls
  4. Threaten to put a bunch of wind turbines [say 100] on the site and see how much you get in complaints from Southie.

So maybe 10 MW peak for the complex-- average output of 1 to 3 MW -- So -- not much wind power

2nd not a whole lot of sun-power either -- ignoring the lack of sun for many days at a time. -- Sunlight just is not very concentrated and Solar Arrays are not very efficient at converting to electricity
One bonus of the location is a lot of water for cooling

  1. Let's assume that you could cover about 50% of the 18 acres with fixed solar arrays pointed toward noon July 1 -- [tracking arrays are much more expensive]
  2. Take10 acres of arrays and see how much we could get out in the optimum mid summer with no clouds and minimal humidity [winter is a near total loss and then of course there is night and heavy overcast].
  3. 10 acres is about 500,000 square feet which translates into about 50,000 square meters [Note that I gave the benefit to the solar calculation is all the preceding approximations as the actual number is 40,877.3376 m^2].
  4. Outside the earth's atmosphere the solar intensity is about 1363 Watts/ sq m. Down here it is quite a bit less -- but let's be generous and take a 1 KW / sq m
  5. Then we have 50,000 KW falling on the site [50,000 sq m x 1 KW per sq m]. There is a theoretical maximum which is somewhat more [Shockley-Queisser limit for Silicon is about 33%] but let's assume we can capture and convert sunlight to electricity with 20% efficiency

The total peak output [mid summer at noon] is then 10,000 KW [10 MW] -- more than wind on the average but still not much

As an aside there used to be a "Peeking Unit" powered by diesel fuel located on the site operated by Boston Edison -- essentially a jet engine on the ground with a muffler with a generator for times when you just needed a bit more juice -- it was rated at 50 MW [50,000 KW] and took up about the area of a shipping container

so Wind / Solar - -fagetaboutit!

Moral of the story -- check the facts

PS: if the Cruise and Container business continues to grow in Boston -- Massport might want to provide the ships at the pier with a few tens of MW of power to keep the ships from having to run their diesel engines in port.

Come to think of it -- A nice Combined Cycle Natural Gas fired generation plant of 100 MW [about half comes from the Combustion Turbine with the rest from a Steam Turbine using the waste heat] situated on the site [small version of the much larger plant at Everett on the Mystic] with excess power sold to Eversource might be a good investment for a developer

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Voting closed 3

A voice from the 20th Century

Yeah, burning fossils seemed like such a great idea back then, some people can't give it up. Here's one of them. Get back to me when somebody actually spends money building a new gas-burner in S. Boston.

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Voting closed 2

Strange Goings On

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I used to work next door to that building in the late 90s. We used to see the strangest goings on there, from topless women in the windows to women in slinky black dresses being photographed on ledges. I thought maybe they were filming music videos or something. It was only years later, due to a post here a previous time this location came up, that I found out it was a location used for fetishist photos or some such, apparently tied in with the old Manray club.

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Infrastructure matters

With all the development around Boston over the last ten years the city is really lacking the parallel development with the transportation and utility upgrades to go along.....it's catching up in terms of traffic but also the sewer system must be getting worse by the day for example! Need to raise the gas tax and create a portion of each development to fund massive transportation infrastructure as well as sewer, water, etc. upgrades or we will all pay greatly in 10-20 years for the needed upgrades in raised real estate taxes when it gets to the point where it a public safety issue.

And specific to this project they plan on this development taking 10 years so they aren't likely to tear the existing plant down for another 2-5 years.

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Like building on your neighbor's land?

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Flaherty said this is

like going ahead with a proposal to build on a neighbor's land when the neighbor has yet to sign off on the deal

.

Except the developers own this land. And if this site is critical to the Conley Terminal operations, Massport could've bought it during decade plus it sat abandoned and for sale. Instead they built a new bridge around this site and the L Street intersection, which they must've determined is a more cost effective option.

One can conclude that the high cost of the abatement, site remediation, and demolition required has deterred any investment for the past decade, and this developer likely needs a high enough leasable square footage to justify the demolition cost. Require too many concessions and the cost will no longer add up, and they developer will abandon the project. Worst case scenario it will be a few decades before the land is declared a superfund site, funded by the taxpayer, and the EPA (if it still exists in the future) sues Eversource to recoup the costs, which are then passed down to the energy consumer.

I’m not pretending I know the balance between community concessions and what the developer requires for the project make money, but the equation is certainly more complicated than that of the typical condo construction this neighborhood has seen.

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Voting closed 2