Ugly front wall of Garden could finally be obscured

The Globe reports the owners of the Boston Garden are finally looking to make good on plans - approved in the 1980s - to put something in front of the arena. Specifically, they're considering two 400-foot towers featuring, naturally, lots of luxury apartments, along with a Target and a Stop & Shop.

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    Where are they going to find the people to fill all these luxury apartments?
    And parking for some cars?
    Boston could use more housing, but perhaps supply is overshooting demand. Especially for $2500 one bedroom units.

    I'm always told

    Whenever I make that same proposition, I'm always told there's NO way to recover the cost of building and buying, let alone turn a profit, if they ONLY do "very nice" instead of "super luxury".

    On the one hand..

    Happy to see something's finally happening after 25 years (and I think a big tax break they got on the Garden?)

    On the other hand from this thread and here

    Looks like I'm starting to have some company about my concern about overbuilding in that segment of the market.

    That's nice if you want to go

    That's nice if you want to go to downtown Salem two hours from now, and come back by 10 pm. Or spend an hour and fifteen minutes getting to Boston College. But there's still plenty of reasons some residents would want cars.

    Build there, but make it something else..

    It won't take long after the "luxury residents" are occupied for people to start complaining about the Garden being there, getting in the way of their luxury. I wouldn't live next to an arena, but I have the good sense to know that about myself. The past proves that others are not so smart.

    Remember Fenway residents complaining about Fenway park? Residents near the South Street diner complaining about the diner that was there before them?

    Build something - but not a bunch of bedrooms - though maybe a hotel would do well, there?

    Boston Garden Hotel?

    That would make too much sense! I mean, have a hotel sitting directly over a major transit hub? Next to a lot of restaurants and commercial areas?

    Wouldn't that be too European or something?

    Building a big highrise project

    ...like this involves great expense, especially for things like the foundation, which in Boston is generally especially difficult and costly due to geography, the fact much of the city where high-rises are built are landfill, etc., And it's just plain expensive due to stuff like regulations state and federal to build, even a small project let alone a big one. The costs must be re-couped. This generally means high rents, which of course means luxury housing. In other cities it's not unusual to see tall, slender high-rises, which can be quite elegant and cut down on the dreaded shadow problem with is so fussed over here. But in Boston high-rise projects are usually cut down in height, which in turn generally requires them to have a larger foot print, to be squat and thick [to make up for lost floor space, usable floor space is very important in an expensive to build city like Boston] as opposed to tall and slender. And then people complain about the result. You can't win.

    What was there before?

    I was looking at historic aerials while reading the West End photo thread. What was the big building that used to be where the new Garden now is? Was that the North Station headhouse?

    Three-building complex

    There were three buildings erected in 1928 (I think) by the same architect and developer, on the north side of Causeway Street. They were all connected internally and shared the same architectural style, yellow-brick Art Deco.

    In the center, where the parking lot is now, was the old North Station building (Boston & Maine RR) on the ground floor, with the Boston Garden above. This existed until the new Garden was completed and opened, and was then demolished. There's a wonderful picture in today's Boston Globe (print edition, not on the free boston.com article) showing its demolition in 1998.

    The name "Boston Garden" comes from Madison Square Garden in New York. When erected, the Boston arena was owned by the same developers as the New York arena and they wanted to have an entire chain of similar arenas. So it was officially Boston Madison Square Garden. This company had just built the second incarnation of New York's Madison Square Garden, the one after the original in Madison Square, and before the current one atop Penn Station.

    Also, the original North Station/Boston Garden was larger than the current parking lot; Causeway Street was widened after they tore the building down.

    To the west was the Hotel Manger. It occupied part of the site of the current Tip O'Neill building. Nashua Street used to go through right about where the middle of the O'Neill building is now.

    Manger was a small chain of hotels. There used to be one in Indianapolis where I grew up. Eventually the local hotel left the chain and became the Madison. The Beatles stayed there when they performed at Boston Garden, simply because they could go directly from the hotel to the Garden without going outdoors.

    To the east of the Garden and RR station was an office building, 150 Causeway Street. It was originally the headquarters of the B&M RR. Eventually the railroad moved its offices out and it became known as the Analex (sp?) Building. There was a small street (Accolon Way) between the office building and the Garden at ground level, but there was a bridge connecting the two. The circus elephants had to go up a ramp into one of the lower levels of the office building, then cross the bridge to get in the Garden. This building was taken down for Central Artery construction; it stood right where the highway plunges underground from the Zakim Bridge. This was a problem for the circus; a temporary ramp had to be erected for the elephants since the old Garden was still in use when the Analex Building came down.

    And a P.S. to earlier comments about parking -- the existing lot is used primarily for dignitary and equipment parking to support events in the new Garden. The circus brings lots of equipment there and concert performers bring their tractor-trailers full of sound equipment and special effects, as well as the musicians' tour buses. Where are they going to park all those things? It's not like they can fit into a normal parking garage!

    If you go to

    If you go to historicaerials.com and look at the 1969 through 1978 photos, there's something on top of the tracks taking up all the space between the old Garden and the old Leverett Circle ramps. Is it a one-story parking deck?