Imagine the Hole full of college students

The Globe reports Suffolk University is looking at possibly becoming even more of a presence in Downtown Crossing - where it already butts up against Emerson College - by selling off four Beacon Hill buildings and doing something interesting with either the abandoned Border's building, the Filene's Hole or both.



    Free tagging: 


    (SIDE RANT, SORRY) Beacon

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    Beacon Hill residents have nothing to complain about. The Suffolk properties(including the dorm)aren't located in the middle of Beacon Hill as many make it seem. Even further, the properties that are located adjacent to residential areas are usually quiet and empty by 4:00. I don't understand why residents despise Suffolk. I live right next to the State House and can hardly tell Suffolk students are near. (Full disclosure:Suffolk Alum)

    Anyway, I do see the move to Downtown Crossing interesting. The school is already in a great location but could win big if a DTX move changed the area. Flip side, Suffolk could be placing the school in DTX......with no change to the area.

    That's not the whole story

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    I've been quite close to this issue for a number of years.

    First of all, Beacon Hill residents do not despise Suffolk, nor do they despise Suffolk students. Suffolk students are enthusiastic and welcome contributors to a lot of neighborhood activities. Most recently, I saw a crew of them out decorating lampposts for Christmas.

    Second, while you're technically correct that Suffolk properties are not "in the middle of" Beacon Hill, they are certainly adjacent to residential areas: Temple, Hancock, Joy, Myrtle streets etc.

    Third, it's not the presence of Suffolk buildings that's a problem, it's the demographics of the surrounding apartment population. When Suffolk moved the law school from Temple Street over to Tremont, and moved a bunch of undergraduate activity to Temple, the total Suffolk presence on the North Slope didn't change, but the demographics did. 24 year old professionals were replaced by 18 year olds living unsupervised for the first time in their lives, in apartments throughout the neighborhood. The result, borne out by ample police log data, was a huge upswing in noise complaints, urine, vomit, and feces on the sidewalk and doorsteps, and other quality-of-life issues. Eventually, Suffolk started doing a much better job of policing its off campus student population, and things improved a lot, but they were kind of icky for a while. And by noise complaints, I'm not referring to music or the occasional loud party, which are entirely acceptable in an urban setting, I'm talking about fights, people on the roof at three in the morning swearing and threatening to throw each other off, people throwing stuff out of windows, etc.

    Residents are concerned that once the percentage of kids living in a neighborhood (be they Suffolk students or others) rises above a certain point, there's a "tipping point" and the neighborhood rapidly becomes "a student neighborhood" That has implications for density, for noise, and, most importantly, for the overall sense of community.

    Students are, almost by definition, short timers. They arrive not knowing the rules; it takes time for them to learn how to live in a dense urban neighborhood, and they don't have much incentive to invest their time and effort into long term activities because they know they'll be moving on. You don't see a lot of college students planting trees, or maintaining gardens, or sweeping the sidewalks, or taking the time to call the city when something is broken. A high percentage of students almost invariably correlates with a low level of civic engagement.

    That's not a knock on the students, nor on the university they attend; it's just a fact of demographics. A neighborhood of all students, or a neighborhood of all retirees, or a neighborhood of all rich people who only occupy their houses for 2 months out of the year -- none of these are healthy, vibrant neighborhoods, even though there's nothing intrinsically wrong with any of those groups. Neighborhoods need diversity in order to thrive.

    I know a lot of Suffolk students, and I know a lot of neighbors who are quite upset that their objection to an 800 bed dorm was portrayed as having been an objection to students in general or to Suffolk in particular.


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    If I got to college and discovered I had to enroll in and pay for a course called "how to live in a city," or "how to be a better neighbor," or whatever patronizing name it has, I would say piss off to the university and neighbors alike and go out of my way to be as passive-aggressively annoying as possible.

    You people really need to get a clue over there, and maybe stop by the Olde Tyme Ice Cream Parlour for a big glass of "shut the fuck up," while you're at it. So very sick of your white/rich people problems.


    Cripes, Cripes....

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    A challenge: Try to make your point without resorting to using the "F" word. Let us all try to be civil to each other, shall we?

    Suffolk and Emerson

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    Those two schools have acquired or built a lot of property that would otherwise be vacant in the Downtown Crossing/Theater District area.

    Good only if Suffolk is a responsible developer

    Not good if they treat Downtown Crossing like they have treated the former MDC building on Somerset Street. Suffolk was supposed to turn this into an arts-oriented academic building. Instead, they've abandoned the project halfway through, leaving an empty husk of a building. Just like Vornado did with Filene's.

    Historic preservation

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    Isn't the hole a protected landmark now? I think Paul Revere fell in it. I show it off to tourists: see here is the Big Dig.

    Dorms for students in the

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    Dorms for students in the Filene's Hole sounds like a win all around. Hundreds of students moving into Downtown Crossing would definitely help to revitalize the area. The Beacon Hill neighborhood is just too small to accommodate Suffolk's needs.

    Fill it....

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    ...with water, make an inner-city lake. We can throw Tommy Menino in so the tourists can watch him bloat around. Call it "Sea World."