For the past several years, the hardworking staff has been largely disoriented by Boston’s Waterfront development. Every time we venture there, it seems three new high-rises have sprung up and three dozen parking spaces have disappeared.
The South Boston Waterfront Finds Its Way
A condominium building boom and commercial tenants like Amazon and Reebok have changed the face of this once industrial no-man’s-land
The South Boston Waterfront, located just across from downtown, didn’t always used to be this hip. It was a shipping district in the early 20th century and used mostly for parking lots into the mid-1980s. Then the Big Dig increased access to the area and developers came in. Today, the Waterfront is composed of a handful of booming areas including the Seaport, Fort Point and Fan Pier. Pricey condominium buildings abound and restaurants, shops and hotels have shot up. Amazon broke ground in May on a Seaport office, Reebok moved here in 2018, and creative writing nonprofit Grub Street is in the process of moving from downtown to the Seaport. While this zone has lacked residential conveniences like grocery stores, these are coming too: Trader Joe’s opened in October.
No mention, however, that Boston’s Seaport is East Coast Sea-Level-Rise Patient Zero.
From Prashant Gopal and Brian K Sullivan at Bloomberg:
Boston Built a New Waterfront Just in Time for the Apocalypse
Developers scramble to protect a city’s glittering 1,000 acres from climate change.
On a balmy June morning, a gathering of local dignitaries welcomed the latest glittering jewel to Boston’s new Seaport District: a 17-story tower that will house 1,000 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.employees. In a display of artistry and engineering, the $240 million building will have an undulating glass facade designed to reflect the harbor’s rippling waters, as if it had risen fully formed from the ocean’s depths. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker marveled that he’d officiated at three or four groundbreakings here in just a few weeks. “Do you get to keep all that tax revenue?” he joked with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
Only a decade ago, Boston’s Seaport District, located just southeast of downtown, was little more than a crazy quilt of outdoor parking lots and warehouses. Then the city began recruiting startups and big corporations to what it dubbed a new “Innovation District,” and the area sprouted offices for General Electric, Amazon.com, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Fidelity Investments, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as luxury condominiums, museums, and some of the city’s hippest restaurants.
What no one mentioned at this month’s event is Boston’s poor timing. No American city has left such a large swath of expensive new oceanfront real estate and infrastructure exposed to the worst the environment has to offer, according to Chuck Watson, owner of Enki Research, which assesses risk for insurers, investors, and governments.
Glub glub, all you high-rise developers.