Boston’s Best Places to Build

A couple days ago, Jonathan Fertig posted a Tweet about a parcel of waterfront land in the North End being used as a parking lot. The North End is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Boston, as well as one of the most walkable. According to Trulia, real estate in the neighborhood sells between $690 and $1200 a square foot, with the waterfront property being highest.

So what explains this?

North End Parking 1

According to City of Boston Assessing data, it’s 81,325 square feet, or nearly two acres, of the finest parking available. Furthermore, the City estimates its value at $7,455,100 — and it produces no taxes because it’s owned by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. At a cost of $690 a square foot, however, it’d be worth more in the neighborhood of $56.1 million.

Across the street is parking in two parcels, one 12,019 square feet and one at 4,575 square feet for a total of almost 17,000 square feet.

To the south is this:

North End Parking 2

Then at Cross and Fulton Streets is this:

North End Parking 3

That’s another 35,470 square feet of parking owned by the BRA in the most expensive and desirable neighborhood of Boston. There’s actually more potential land because of the Callahan Tunnel, which could be capped. The patron’s of Mother Anna’s would doubtless be overjoyed.

Over on North Margin Street is a commercial parking lot totaling just under 14,000 square feet.

North End Parking 4

Then there are some smaller lots on Harris Street (4,220 square feet), a 4756 square foot city-owned lot on Foster Street (according to assessing data it’s a play area. Good luck with that), a 9,000 square foot lot on Wigin Street, an approximately 11,000 square foot lot on Commercial Street near Prince Street Park, a 13359.4 square foot lot on Hull St and and the mother lode: a parking garage on Commercial Street on 70,492 square feet.

North End Parking 5

All together it works out to 260,622 square feet, or very nearly six acres in the most desirable part of Boston — and between two and three of them is owned by the City. In any other neighborhood the BRA would be issuing all sorts of studies and requests for proposals. In the 1950s, according to Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, there were 275 dwelling units per acre in the North End. So all of this land being used for vehicle storage, could, at the same densities and building styles, be providing 1,650 homes. It’s shameful.



One thought on “Boston’s Best Places to Build

  1. Is this article suggesting this BRA real estate be sold off to the highest bidder? I don’t know how to best distribute the ownership of that highly desirable real estate… If driverless cars come on line fast enough, they would render unnecessary owning ones own car in an area like this. Then people wouldn’t need these parking lots to put their vehicles. And reducing the number of vehicles on the road is something we should all want.

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