The City of Boston is conducting a comprehensive study of the Downtown area, called PLAN: Downtown. The goal is stated as, "Building on past studies, the primary goal of the study will be to develop a new framework for the preservation, enhancement, and growth of the Downtown area of the City of Boston, while balancing the importance of livability, daylight, walkability, climate change, access to open space, affordability, and a dynamic mix of uses, among others." The City released a Request For Proposals in 2018 for teams to conduct the study and after reviewing nine responses, selected NBBJ who is partnering with Arup, Nitsch, Boston Conservation Associates, and others to complete the study. A preliminary map of the study area has been presented and is attached below. An Advisory Committee of residents and members of the public is being formed. Final recommendations and the study's completion is anticipated in the spring of 2020. The recommendations are intended to result in permanent zoning changes, but that is not a requirement of this study.
Planning for the downtown area is a result of mitigation efforts for the Winthrop Square tower project, which will itself have significant impacts on this diverse neighborhood. The Alliance strongly urged the City to undertake a comprehensive planning process during the Winthrop Square mitigation discussion. We then joined our partners at Friends of the Public Garden and Downtown Boston BID to form the Downtown Plan Advocacy Coalition and cooperatively we provided guidance to the City about the boundary of the study, what should be considered, and the priorities of those represented by each of our advocacy organizations. The Alliance is pleased that this planning initiative is moving forward and we will provide feedback throughout the process.
Highlights from our Activity Log:
• December 13, 2018
The Boston Guardian publishes an article about the planning initiative. In the article, long-time Alliance Board member Beatrice Nessen is quoted, "I think development is exciting and necessary but what makes Boston special is its historic character and quality walking experience... all of that can be lost with development on a case by case basis. Unless you have a regulatory way to implement what's coming out of here, it won't amount to much." Beatrice also said that she wants to see Washington Street retain its historic properties and to protect the Common, and that new rules need to have teeth to prevent individual projects from affecting the area. The full article is attached below.
• December 3, 2018
The first Open House and Information Session is hosted by planning and urban design staff at the Boston Planning and Development Agency. Alliance staff attends and provides feedback on the public boards and displays. Materials from that meeting can be found here.