South Station’s Greenwash

The developers behind a three-building, two million square foot, 677 foot-tall project on air rights over South Station that has been in the works since 1989 filed a notice of project change with the Boston Redevelopment Authority last Friday. They made some changes to the proportions of the project devoted to residential, hotel and office space, but most significantlty, they upped the amount of parking they want to build to 895 spaces. This is completely understandable, as it’s not like this project is close to, much less right on top of, a major transit hub with one rapid transit line, nine bus routes, nine commuter rail lines, taxis, car sharing services and Amtrak. Oh, wait, it is.

South Station air rights

Not only does the presence of those parking spaces virtually ensure that nearly 900 more cars will clog the streets of the Financial District, increasing pollution and making residents more hostile to development, but they are completely uncalled for. South Station is fully accessible and, in case this isn’t clear, is a major multi-modal transit hub.

It’s the only place in New England where you can get there from here.

As is known from sources like TransitCenter’that 80 percent of people access transit on foot and people who can walk to transit use it more frequently. Time and time again the vacant parking lots around train stations are written about as wastes of money. Even in West Roxbury parking garages for apartment buildings near commuter rail stations are half empty.

One of the goals listed in the Go Boston 2030 is that “Boston’s transportation networks will no longer be focused on funneling traffic and people downtown” but this project brings 900 more cars downtown. Other goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increase transit mode share, neither of which will be accomplished with 900 more cars idling on Atlantic Avenue outside of a major multi-modal transit hub instead of taking the chuffing train — and that’s not even counting the greenhouse gases produced by pouring asphalt. It raises huge questions about the City approvintg projects that directly conflict with its own goals and policies.

Besides, without the millions of dollars the developers are spending on parking, they might have been able to afford a decent architect. Not only does it look like a sex toy, but it takes about as much notice of South Station as it does about the fact that South Station is a major multi-modal transit hub. Again, this conflicts with the City’s policies that call for iconic and unique architecture.

In brief, the project comprises four parts: the 43-story, 677 foot-tall tower, which will contain 704,000 square feet of office space, 7,000 square feet of retail space and 321,000 square feet of residential space in 175 units. A second building, of 17 stories and 314 feet tall, will have 8,000 square feet of retail space and 430,000 square feet of residential space in either 375 apartments or 260 condos. The third building will be a nine story, 511,000 square foot, 249 foot tall office building. Lastly, the bus terminal will be expanded by 36,000 square feet. At the City’s normal manadtory parking minimum of 1.5 spaces per unit, the developers would only need to build 825 spaces, making the project 70 spaces over the mininum.

Make no mistake, this project is a treavesty and its pretension to Gold LEED certification and its characterization as “a transit-oriented development that emphasizes smart growth” in the introduction of the EPNF nothing more than greenwashing.

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3 thoughts on “South Station’s Greenwash

  1. How does this relate to South Station expansion?

    Glad to see the bus terminal being expanded but it’s not clear by how much (or how many new bus gates). A real victory would be bringing the western MBTA express routes into the bus terminal so they don’t crawl in traffic on the streets, as well as a place to host increased bus service to other cities in the state/region (think hourly service to Worcester, Springfield, Fitchburg, etc.).

  2. Reblogged this on Happy Commutes and commented:
    Ok forget my last post where I talked about new Boston city center developments with parking space to apartment ratios of less than 1. A proposed development in the Financial District, on top of South Station (a key transit hub), goes against this idea with a garage that would provide more than 1.5 spaces per apartment. As the author points out, this proposal conflicts with the City’s Go Boston 2030 goals which include: an 80% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, an increase in public transit commutes of 30%, and a 50% decrease in single passenger car commutes. Wishful thinking it seems.

  3. You act like people should have their lives dictated by train schedules filled with junkies and masturbating homeless people. Why would someone buying a 500k+ condo not have a car? We have a housing crisis while the MBTA is one of the most expensive, inefficient, and corrupt public transit authorities in the country. Did you actually mention POLLUTION FROM THE CARS as a reason not to build it?

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