HomeDiagramsDatabaseMapsForum About
     

Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Discussion Forums > City Discussions


Reply

 
Thread Tools Display Modes
     
     
  #1  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 1:47 AM
M II A II R II K's Avatar
M II A II R II K M II A II R II K is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Toronto
Posts: 50,285
Should NIMBYs Continue To Decide Boston's Future?

Why Must a Few Lonely Cranks Decide the Future of Boston's Buildings?


April 2012

By George Thrush



Read More: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articl...ing_refusniks/

Quote:
READY OR NOT, Boston is ramping up for another building boom. There are at least five major residential projects under review at City Hall, including ones for Stuart Street, Copley Place, Chinatown, the Seaport District, and the Fenway. Together, these proposals would add up to 1,400 new apartments and condos over the next few years. This is good news for Boston. We need more housing to keep prices reasonable and attract young innovators. The bad news is that these projects aren’t in well-planned districts like the highly groomed South Boston waterfront. Instead, they will pop up on single lots throughout the city. That means that everything — from a project’s size to its location 
and use — will be open to debate. Public debate.

- These refuseniks aren’t interested in what you or I think is best for the city. They’re hell-bent on blocking anything a developer puts in front of them. Crazy as it sounds, in one of the nation’s largest cities, a few local characters who regularly show up at public meetings somehow have the power to completely derail major projects. This has to change. If it doesn’t, Boston could lose its competitive edge. FOR THOSE OF YOU fortunate enough to have never been through this mess, a quick primer: Boston requires that every large-scale development proposal be approved by a citizens’ advisory committee — the members of which are selected from neighborhood groups big and small. This committee then spends inordinate amounts of time (often years) meeting monthly to debate the merits of the proposal. Sounds good in theory, but the truth is, only committed anti-development gadflies show up. Normal people have jobs and lives to live, and can’t commit to endless meetings. The best-known anti-development activist is Shirley Kressel, whose decades-long stance has been that only small projects are able to contribute to the city’s quality of life.

- So how did we wind up with this system? We used to have a top-down process, coordinated by professional planners who controlled the future of every neighborhood in Boston. These planners made micro and macro decisions based on what they thought was best, and you either loved it or hated it. But after the destruction of the West End in the late 1950s, the public wanted a way to control what got built, what got demolished, and what got left alone. Fair enough. But what started as democratized planning has now morphed into Kabuki theater, where those with political grudges and time on their hands have disproportionate influence over the city’s future. What these curmudgeons agree on is that building height and developer profits will destroy our city. If you propose a 30-story building, the “public” asks, “Why not 20 stories?” It’s as though height is pure evil. In fact, height is often the measure of a project’s financial viability. In other words, the higher you build in this expensive, land-limited city, the more cost-efficient the venture.

- But the saddest casualty of our twisted public process was the Boylston Square proposal back in the ’90s — a magnificent low-scale development by Millennium Partners that would have straddled the turnpike at Boylston Street and Mass. Ave., stitching the Back Bay together where the highway currently cleaves it. But according to the few “public representatives” who relentlessly fought it, Boylston Square had a fatal flaw: a 59-story, needle-thin tower that would have provided enough profitable square footage to pay for the costly low-scale development. The whole thing eventually died on the vine after years of controversy. Millennium, coincidentally, is the same team that brought us the new Ritz-Carlton that’s reenergized the old Combat Zone, and that will at last build a tower on the Filene’s site in Downtown Crossing. Just imagine what its Boylston Square project might have added to the city. So what has survived this brutal and arbitrary process? The Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the Clarendon are two examples.

.....



__________________
ASDFGHJK
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #2  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 3:38 AM
1Boston's Avatar
1Boston 1Boston is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Quincy, MA
Posts: 368
Boston would look so much different today if the NIMBYs didn't have a strangle on Boston's development. It's like they'd rather tear all the new towers down and only have the buildings built in the 17 18 and early 1900s. But sadly i don't see their power fading any time soon. I think Boston can truly say it has the most hardcore NIMBYs in the US. Maybe in 20-30 years they'll all get too old to leave their house and we will actually be able to build a decent size building.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #3  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 4:13 AM
seaskyfan seaskyfan is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 3,751
Development review processes can be more streamlined. Personally I favor a system that over-empowers cranks than one that under-represents citizen review.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #4  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 4:24 AM
fflint's Avatar
fflint fflint is offline
Triptastic Gen X Snoozer
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 22,207
A little editorializing with the title there, MARK.
__________________
"You need both a public and a private position." --Hillary Clinton, speaking behind closed doors to the National Multi-Family Housing Council, 2013
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #5  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 4:27 AM
Shawn Shawn is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 5,462
We're all here because at the end of the day, we like skyscrapers, right?

Boston's economy is bigger than Houston's, Dallas', Atlanta's and slew of other cities with significantly larger and more attractive skylines. Boston's skyline is anemic. It punches far below its weight. We've got residents who think the place is Paris and should be treated like a European museum city. There are so many things that Boston does well, but the skyscraper fan in me would trade some of these for better towers.

To the Back Bay NIMBYs who ruin everything: you live in one of the densest, busiest, most crowded urban fabrics in North America. You live in the very heart of a big city. If the prospect of additional neighbors bothers you, move to fucking Weston or Wayland already and stop worrying about shadows touching The Commons.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #6  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 4:33 AM
untitledreality untitledreality is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 1,006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn View Post
We're all here because at the end of the day, we like skyscrapers, right?
Not really.

Urbanism > Skyscrapers

Skyscrapers dont equal success, they dont equal prosperity, they arent the only way to build density... they are merely an optional piece of the puzzle.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #7  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 4:48 AM
Shawn Shawn is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 5,462
Quote:
Originally Posted by untitledreality View Post
Not really.

Urbanism > Skyscrapers

Skyscrapers dont equal success, they dont equal prosperity, they arent the only way to build density... they are merely an optional piece of the puzzle.
If you don't really care for skyscrapers, what brought you to "Skyscraperpage.com" in the first place?

Beyond that though, we also all know that skyscrapers don't equal success. Boston is the very definition of this. But if you're at all familiar with what hoops developers must jump through to get anything built in Boston, you'd know that it's the single most restrictive filing and approval process in the country. And it's weighed down disproportionally by self-interested neighborhood preservation groups that ultimately just don't want to share "their" territory with new people. There's no more available land in Back Bay to densify without going up. The area is already north of 60,000 pp sq mile.

Perfect example: the doomed Columbus Center, a slightly-under 500-footer that ended up never taking off the ground in large part due to a few very loud, very cranky South End residents who didn't want additional height in the area. The "area" here being one block south of the 800 foot Hancock Tower. The project would have decked over Rt 90 with parks and supermarkets and playgrounds and lots of other neighborhood enhancements. But the height, the height!! And the shadows! My street will have an additional shadow cast on it for 12 minutes every afternoon from January through March. Unacceptable!
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #8  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 7:23 AM
J. Will J. Will is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 3,882
Fifteen years ago downtown Toronto had massive amounts of surface parking and plain empty land (empty land alongside the train tracks for example). This is where most of the new towers have been built - not where previous buildings stood (or if there were previous building(s), it was usually an insignifcant, architectural nothing of a lowrise (like a warehouse building). If downtown Boston and the immediate surrounding neighbourhoods (since I know "downtown Boston" proper only covers something like 1.2 square miles) had such huge amounts of parking lots and vacant land, I wonder if there would still be NIMBY outcries.

Boston is like Manhattan, in that something new being built usually means an existing building(s) has to be torn down to make room.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #9  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 7:27 AM
J. Will J. Will is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 3,882
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn View Post
We're all here because at the end of the day, we like skyscrapers, right?

Boston's economy is bigger than Houston's, Dallas', Atlanta's and slew of other cities with significantly larger and more attractive skylines. Boston's skyline is anemic. It punches far below its weight. We've got residents who think the place is Paris and should be treated like a European museum city. There are so many things that Boston does well, but the skyscraper fan in me would trade some of these for better towers.

To the Back Bay NIMBYs who ruin everything: you live in one of the densest, busiest, most crowded urban fabrics in North America. You live in the very heart of a big city. If the prospect of additional neighbors bothers you, move to fucking Weston or Wayland already and stop worrying about shadows touching The Commons.
In fact, Boston is on par with Toronto in many surveys and lists of economic power and importance (obviously measuring regions and not city propers). Yet you'd never know it looking at the skyline. It appears far smaller and less important.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #10  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 8:23 AM
jd3189 jd3189 is offline
An Optimistic Realist
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Loma Linda, CA / West Palm Beach, FL
Posts: 4,871
I look at Boston as the American equivalent of London or another major UK city. It should be able to grow too. As population shifts back to the city, many U.S. urban areas need to start becoming much denser than thy were before.
__________________
Entering the Age of Aquarius
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #11  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 2:49 PM
untitledreality untitledreality is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 1,006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn View Post
If you don't really care for skyscrapers, what brought you to "Skyscraperpage.com" in the first place?
Off topic: I came here because the Chicago forum is active with news of all proposed and u/c developments that affect my environment, irregardless of scale or function. Im not anti skyscraper, I just think they tend to be a overvalued piece of the puzzle due to their visual impact, rather than urban impact.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #12  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 3:00 PM
bunt_q's Avatar
bunt_q bunt_q is offline
Provincial Bumpkin
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 12,856
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn View Post
If you don't really care for skyscrapers, what brought you to "Skyscraperpage.com" in the first place?
I think because when we all joined in 1999, we really liked skyscrapers. Then we grew up and realized there was much more to urbanity than a giant phallic symbol that still, admittedly, excites us in unexplainable ways.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #13  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2012, 12:47 AM
scalziand's Avatar
scalziand scalziand is offline
Mortaaaaaaaaar!
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Naugatuck, CT/Worcester,MA
Posts: 3,492
Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Will View Post
If downtown Boston and the immediate surrounding neighbourhoods (since I know "downtown Boston" proper only covers something like 1.2 square miles) had such huge amounts of parking lots and vacant land, I wonder if there would still be NIMBY outcries.
Strangely enough, there are acres and acres of parking lots next to downtown in the Seaport district. No NIMBYs there, but height is limited due to Logan Airport just across the harbor. It's frustrating that all that prime land can't be used for towers of any significant height.


http://g.co/maps/j67pd

Not to mention all the air rights parcels over the highways that don't require any demolition to build on.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #14  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2012, 1:15 AM
JDRCRASH JDRCRASH is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: San Gabriel Valley
Posts: 8,003
NIMBYS shouldn't decide ANY city's future.
__________________
Revelation 21:4
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #15  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2012, 1:30 AM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
The City
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Chicago region
Posts: 20,021
This is too bad for Boston. NIMBY's can be helpful on occasion, but 90% of the time they are an obstacle to any city's future's ability to achieve its potential.
__________________
Loving the sound of turbos
Reply With Quote
     
     
End
 
 
Reply

Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Discussion Forums > City Discussions
Forum Jump


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 3:50 AM.

     

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.