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State looks to move transportation agencies to long stalled Roxbury project

The Globe reports state officials are working on a plan to empty the Transportation Building in Park Square and build a new transportation complex as part of the Tremont Crossing mixed-use development across the street from Boston Police headquarters on Tremont Street. The move would jump start that project and free up the Park Square building for redevelopment.

The BRA has a vaguely worded item related to the proposal on its agenda for this afternoon's board meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in its ninth-floor hearing room in City Hall.

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First of all, no area in Boston really needs more car traffic. If this is "free parking" this will lead to some serious market imbalances (towards car use). We dont need this @#$%.

Just stop it! -_-

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and certainly an area across the street from a subway and commuter rail stop (where a platform being extended to accommodate more frequency) and many buses is a terrible place to put a 1,500 space garage. Huge parking garages add lots of costs and reduces the positive things a development can do.

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The people who area in charge of our transportation infrastructure really seem to be wedded to their cars. My griping point- the "employee" parking lot at Forest Hills Station. I would be completely understanding if the lot were for those who drive the trains or buses or those who opened/worked at the stations along the line, but almost every time I walk by the lot at 4:45-5:30 there are cars pulling out, which means there are T employees who get free parking while the rest of us either take the bus or hope to get a spot at the paid lots. I would imagine that the people parking at Forest Hills are the unlucky ones, since the State Transportation Building has an underground lot.

That said, while there would be a need for "some" parking, most of those 1,800 drivers most likely don't need their cars while working, so I welcome them to the Orange Line.

EDIT- oh, yeah, the BJs and other retail. I guess parking makes sense for that. Landmark Center has parking, so okay. But still, office workers who work in the city (even considering this the city) do not need parking.

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The majority of MassDot employees at Park Place use the T. Parking is limited and expensive.

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But that Forest Hills thing still eats at my craw. Heck, if you are in the highway department, driving would give you that empathy.

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One of the local media stations recently did a story on "free" parking at the Park Plaza for 47(?) state employees. They are expensive spaces which Mass. taxpayers are picking up the tab for, not the typically director-level employees getting them. It wasn't clear if the perk is reported to the IRS as a taxable benefit.

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Not saying that they aren't getting a sweet perk here, but it is entirely possible that they have those spaces because they are expected to drive as part of their job.

I had a high demand parking space in the medical area, but only so long as I worked on a study that meant driving to four different suburban/exurban locations twice a week with air sampling equipment and supplies.

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But wasn't there to be a BJ Club in this plan ? The people buy big , need cars. Is Connolly's Star Dust Lounge still over there ? That , and the Merit Gas station were just about the only things over there for years , although Hertz had a truck garage too , but it burrowed down a few levels.

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Connolly's Star Dust Lounge was bulldozed for this project 20 something years ago! That's how long this development area has been mismanaged with empty promises and non-starts!

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Two reasons people will drive.

One:the anchor retail is big box stores like BJs. I live within walking distance, but if I go to BJs you better believe I'm driving all that stuff home.

Second is that the public transit in Roxbury, Dorchester, etc. doesn't adequately reach this site. It's going to tell multiple buses for most people who live South and east of this location to get there. Those who have card will choose to drive 10 minutes vs spending 40 on buses and transfers. Same reason my wife drives the 1.2 miles from our house in Roxbury to her job in Longwood every day.

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Is fine and in no need of replacement. Stop this insanity of replacing a perfectly fine building when we have plenty of infrastructure falling apart!!!!

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I think I heard they are selling it to Emerson College.

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the middleman. Have Emerson relocate to the new Roxbury development and keep the State DOT Headquarters where it is.

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More State subsidy of the City or Boston...... is there no end to this?

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Speaking a public-sector employee myself, I'm ambivalent about this resurgence of using public offices as a development tool. The Moakley Courthouse is one possibly successful example in Boston (although only very recently have the areas around the courthouse itself seen new buildings), and we'll see how Dudley Square turns out.

But 9-5 office workers don't necessarily provide the kind of lively activity that attracts follow-on development. Transportation offices certainly wouldn't bring the nighttime uses and "eyes-on-the-street" that would be helpful along this corridor. In fact, there's plenty of large institution/office uses already here: the health center, the BPD, the high school. But the area sorely misses a solid retail attraction for the evening hours.

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I agree that office only construction will not do the job on its own, but this development has some other elements.

From the article:

MassDOT would occupy up to 800,000 square feet of office space in the project, which would also include a hotel, 300 residences, offices, and 350,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. It would probably take several years for the new transportation building to be constructed.

That will bring lots of people to the area after CBD. But it is only a start. I agree more needs to happen on the stretch between this location and Jackson Square.

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I somehow missed the link to the Globe article in Adam's original post! Classic internet commenting on my part.

If the office is well-integrated with other uses, then it makes a lot more sense. Thankfully, state office buildings usually don't have quite the same urban design-killing security requirements that federal ones do.

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I live in Jackson Square, on the Roxbury side. The revitalization project so far has been such a disappointment to me. In the 225 Centre Street project, the developers have been so dismissive and ridiculous of all of the potential retailers looking to rent the ground floor space that...NACA is the only tenant a year after they officially opened. This is NOT the kind of tenant that encourages foot traffic in the area. I heard from a business owner down the street that Tasty Burger tried to negotiate for a spot in the space but they eventually backed out. I also heard that Barbara Lynch tried to rent a space between Jackson and Hyde squares but was turned down because she was "too corporate/commercial" for JPNDC. The thing is, the developers in that stretch are ONLY looking for "small business owners" in their space, but small business owners can't afford to take the risk by being the first retailer in a questionable area. If a Starbucks or even a GAP is willing to be the first one in, then I think they need to seriously consider that. I don't really care that it is JP and they like small business there. Any legitimate business is better than a vacant space. If they don't open up to the idea of some chains then the entire project will be doomed and all we will see is ground floor vacant spaces meant for retail. I would love ANYTHING there. A few restaurants, some shopping, anything.

PS- I'm all for this idea across from BPD. I think Roxbury is seriously lacking in shopping and dining options and would love to see more employment opportunities as well as businesses in the area close to my home.

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You're bang on the money. But unfortunately a tiny group of residents have hijacked the development process in Jackson Sq and elsewhere in Roxbury. They want a perfect utopia where they hand pick which small businesses will be allowed to rent space, and the nonprofit CDC groups go along with it. While the intentions are good, the effect is not. I live within eyesight of the Jackson Sq development and it grinds my crank every day that I still can't walk over there and visit a restaurant, get a drink, or grab some groceries. I don't give a damn if it's a local shop or a chain. I want to be able to walk to services from Fort Hill.

As for the MassDOT idea, it has legs. The development group has been struggling to find a major office tenant and this could work. DOT's current offices are pretty beat up and this would be a net win for their employees and the people who do business there. I'm all for it.

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I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I don't want to become one of those crazy person activists at every community meeting, but when I hear that Barbara Lynch was turned away down the street and that an also solid company (Tasty Burger) couldn't jump through all of the hoops to move into Jackson Square and the developers would rather have their retail space sit empty than compromise a little bit after a year sitting vacant, I get really mad! I really want to organize some sort of response to this to encourage them to relax their standards to just bring SOMETHING worth walking to to this area. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one in the neighborhood who is annoyed with this, though. I'm not really sure what it would take to get them to listen, but I'm actively working on it.

I have hope though. If this parcel in Roxbury can finally get developed after decades of waiting and delays, then there has to be some hope for Jackson Square, too.

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Really? You heard they turned down a viable restaurant or two for that space! Disgusting. I would like to know more about who is responsible and why Barbara Lynch was rebuffed--anyone have more details? Haven't heard anything about that. I too live nearish to the development--over near Egleston Square.

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To be fair, I heard Barbara Lynch was turned away at the Blessed Sacrament complex and that Tasty Burger backed out of lease negotiations at 225 Centre because they weren't receiving much support and ultimately decided that if they weren't going to get a good deal/support from developers and tenant management that it wasn't worth the risk. Even so, any legitimate local restaurant companies looking to come to that stretch of Centre Street are worth having, as far as I'm concerned.

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The idea is that thousands more office workers in the area will actually encourage small businesses, retail, and restaurants to come to the area. 9-5 workers flooding the site that was once a huge vacant lot will need to eat lunch somewhere, go for drinks after work somewhere, etc. They will create a new market for exactly the type of attractions you mentioned where none previously existed. Some workers might even be interested in living close to work, and along with the office space, about 300 units of housing are provided, which creates a market for evening dining, shopping, etc. Retailers and especially small businesses will not agree to move into an area unless they know that people will be there.

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You're right, but it's a start. Everything doesn't happen at once. Sometimes, you can plant a seed and things can develop from there.

No guarantees, though. I've seen some downtown areas with lots of office workers be absolute ghost towns after 5. Columbia SC rings a bell.

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You can come closer to New England for that.

Hartford CT's downtown area is a ghost town after 5 and on weekends. Its nothing but offices. And what few restaurants and stores are downtown all have office worker hours and close at 5 also.

A while ago I was taking MegaBus to and from CT for a sick family member, and I was picked up and dropped off in downtown Hartford. Total Ghost town after 5 and on weekends. I walked for a few blocks trying to find a store to get a beverage at.. no dice. Ended up walking all the way to the real bus station to find a soda machine.

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It worked SO well with Scollay Square right?

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Years ago I remember the RMV moved into some new building in Roxbury. Many workers got sick and the RMV eventually moved out.

What was the determination of the cause, and what was done with the building?

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Sold to Northeastern University which spent a mint fixing the problems.

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That building was built such that the ventilation system did not have ducts, but used the spaces in between the suspended ceiling and the ceiling of the floor.

There were multiple issues as a result of that design. That space was shared with a bunch of other service things, with moisture from the ventilation condensing and even degrading surfaces and causing mold to grow. A fireproofing coating sprayed in that space that was not approved for spraying in ductwork without an encapsulant (would have cost $20,000 when built), as well as off-gassing from polymer coatings on wiring, etc. which was also not rated for airhandling systems. Adding to the joy, HVAC units were condensing water into the space used as an air plenum = more mold, as well as decomposition of ceiling tiles releasing butyric acid.

That place was a complicated mess when it came to indoor air quality. The DPH evacuated it in 1995.

That was what made people sick. Not "sick" but sick. Sick enough that they had readily identifiable symptoms and signs of illness when examined by doctors.

Source (Ruggles Center starts on page 49).

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That's horrible.

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It was a crony capitalist project benefiting from minority developer set asides, and above market rents. The state took the losses, not the developers

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BTW, the "sick" was in reference to the building, not the people working there. At the time it was called a sick building, even though buildings don't suffer from human illnesses.

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I really don't trust the public sector , but I have to admit the Dot in Park Square really worked out well. That area was a dump. Now if this works at Dudley with the furniture store , I might become a believer. Northern ave was going to happen anyway , due to its location and the fact that it was a money maker in transition.The new utility had to be able to bear the transition costs of acquisition and construction. Some warehouses don't even have heat and are no more than bare concrete and steel.Out with the old , in with the new.
( to By LN on Thu, 12/18/2014 - 8:55am )

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Emerson will get the transportation building and will bring back the Hillbilly lounge.

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I was only there one time. That place was intense.

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Can you throw in the Teddy Bear too ?

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From 1995:

"With the smash of a champagne bottle and a shovelful of dirt, Mayor Menino, Police Commissioner Paul Evans and a host of others broke ground yesterday for the new Boston police headquarters in Roxbury. ......State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson (D-South End) said the new station will be a strong symbol of revitalization in the area, and called it a great selling tool to bring in other economic development projects."

Twenty years ago, the government stepped in to encourage development of the area. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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Its the MASSACHUSETTS Department of Transportation, so why not move someplace more centralized in the state with lower costs and also in need of economic stimulus?

Or, put it on I-95/128 or Rt 3 where workers suffering from the capacity shortages will be more inspired to fix them. Let's be honest, over 90% of our transportation occurs over roads.

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Worcester just got a new CSX train works ect. They are already stimulated. We lost Beacon Park.
" Beacon Park Yard

The yard, when it was operational
Beacon Park Yard is a former rail yard of CSX Transportation in Allston, Boston. It was closed in 2013 following the relocation of the yard's container operations to Worcester, Massachusetts and opening of a transload facility in Westboro, Massachusetts.[1] The yard's land was purchased by Harvard University in 2009 for future development.[2]

As part of the development of the yard, the state has looked into rerouting Interstate 90 just south of its current alignment within the confines of the old yard, in order to not only make the road safer, but to also free up 60 acres for development. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017 and end in 2020.[3] A new commuter rail station, West Station, will be constructed near the east end of the yard.[4] "

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beacon_Park_Yard

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Maybe there's some reason the headquarters of MASSACHUSETTS Department of Transportation is in the capital of MASSACHUSETTS

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n/t

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Consider where the Federal transportation facilities are, as well as other state government headquarters, with which they must interact.

Or do you think it wise for them to have many staff members driving to Boston and paying for parking all the time?

For all we know, there may be some requirement for such state government organizations to be headquartered somewhere in the capital city or within some distance ... possibly measured in rods or furlongs or something.

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Speaking as another state employee, there is a requirement that agency HQ have to be within one mile of an MBTA stop. As an example, MassHealth is in Quincy near the Red Line. In practical terms, senior management is always being summoned to the State House or to whatever Cabinet Secretary office they report. (Cabinet Secretaries are going to be near the Governor). Less-than-senior management and staff also visit the State House for events, meet with interest groups, meet with other agencies, and so on. People sometimes question why the agencies have to be in Boston "in this day and age" and that is why. Setting up video conferencing won't do it and they won't spend the money anyway. And there is always a legislator who demands to see the Commissioner about a problem and wants him or her in the State House today.

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Good answers !

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...for an informative, non-snarky answer.

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