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The Recap: L Street Station Community Meeting

For a Monday night in the summer, the community meeting to discuss the L Street Station project was packed. Over 200 people filled the cafeteria of the Tynan School to listen to the newest proposals for the old Edison power plant by developers Redgate and Hilco.

Details:

HRP 776 Summer Street LLC proposes to redevelop an approximately 15.2-acre site located at 776 Summer Street in the South Boston neighborhood. The proposal entails approximately 1.78 million square feet of occupiable space, including: approximately 750 residential units, approximately 470,000 square feet of office uses, approximately 81,200 square feet of retail uses, 344 hotel rooms, and up to 1,214 parking spaces. The proposal will also preserve several historic buildings on the site and provide 5.5 acres of new outdoor public spaces, including approximately 2.5 acres of open space on the waterfront.

In the newest info filed with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, this project now contains 60 percent commercial use, including the conversion of two buildings near Conley Terminal from residential to commercial use. The shift in use combined with an overall program reduction of approximately 150,000 square feet reduces the number of proposed housing units by almost half (44%).  You can read the details here.

“Last night’s meeting was another opportunity for us to share our plans for the redevelopment of the Edison site with our South Boston neighbors. Our updated site plan that we recently filed with the BPDA reflects the feedback we have already received, and the updated proposal reaffirms our commitment to historic preservation, improving transit and mobility, and making the site a natural extension of the neighborhood. This has been a multi-year process and we look forward to continuing the conversation with the neighborhood in the next several weeks.” – Ralph Cox, Principal at Redgate

The crowd

On hand were our local elected officials including Congressman Stephen Lynch, Senator Nick Collins, Rep. David Biele, City Councilor at-Large Michael Flaherty and City Councilor Ed Flynn. Haley Dillon from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services was also in attendance. The majority of those in attendance were residents of South Boston. The unions also had a large presence including members from Local 12, Local 26, and the Longshoremens Local 800.

The presentation

The presentation included two proposals. One with residential housing (750) units and one that is completely commercial.  You can see the full presentation here!

The first goal would be to clean up the site. For decades, this site was a power plant – so who know what lurks beneath when it comes to environmental issues. The developers assure they will be working closely with a License Site Professional (LSP). Licensed Site Professionals (LSPs) are authorized by the Commonwealth to work on behalf of property owners, operators, and other responsible parties to oversee the assessment and cleanup of contamination that has been released into the environment. LSPs are scientists, engineers, and public health specialists with significant professional expertise in oil and hazardous material contamination. LSPs are governed by the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup Professionals, also known as the LSP Board.

Other goals

Remove the walls and fences surrounding the site, and create connections into and through the Site, so that it is accessible and inviting to the South Boston neighborhood, all the way down to the water’s edge;

Convert the Project Site to a live/work/play mix of uses that fit with the neighborhood;
preserve and protect the continuing operation of an active, thriving Conley Terminal;
Include retail and other uses, and significant public spaces, that will be used by the neighborhood;

Preserve some significant building elements to give the site character and a sense of
history. There will be a museum on premise.

Minimize the use of cars by providing better alternatives (buses, shuttles, ridesharing
services, biking, walking, etc.); and

Make the site green, sustainable and resilient.

More than 2600 jobs will be created and 1.6M in new taxes for the City of Boston.

$11.5M-$19M in potential linkage payments to the City of Boston.

Q&A

Many attendees of the meeting got up to ask questions or make comments. The usually quality of life issues included traffic, parking, public transportation, density, site clean-up, potential issues with the operation of Conley Terminal aka the port.  You can read our full coverage of the meeting on twitter feed here. 

Standout quotes:

“Think about what you want to see here. Think long and hard about these proposals. Try and be pragmatic and realistic about this project.” – Congressman Stephen Lynch

“We can all agree this is going to suck” – Jen Menjin, concerned resident

“750 units is too big! I’m sick of people telling the people of South Boston what to do.”

“I’m in support of the resident housing proposal. I think it will help give life to that area of the neighborhood and it can help with our infrastructure problems and improve bike travel.”

“No one who owns a $2million condo is going to ride a bicycle.”

So the biggest argument for this project is housing or no housing. Here are the arguments:

Pro-housing:

The theory is if we create more housing, the cost of housing will go down. Donna Brown from the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation brought up this point at the meeting, “With all those jobs being created, people will need places to live in the neighborhood. Without housing – especially affordable housing – it will drive up the already expensive prices of housing and force residents out of their neighborhood.”

Pro-all commercial:

Some residents believe that South Boston is already too crowded. The belief is with the addition of 750 new units of housing, how will the neighborhood accommodate all the new residents. The MBTA is struggling. There is lack of parking and traffic is a nightmare. Members of the Longshoreman Union do not like the idea of housing next to a very active Conley Terminal. The belief is that if units are built near the Conley Terminal it will only be a matter of time before residents begin to complain about the work being done there.

This is not the end! There will be another community meeting in September.  Stay tuned.

The comment period is open on this project.  You can let your voice be heard here.

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Co-host of Caught Up, storyteller, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.