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Flaherty: Filene's developers should fill in hole and turn it into a public food market

Councilor and mayoral candidate Michael Flaherty says the developers behind the BRA Memorial Hole on Washington Street are actually sitting on a large sum of money, so the least they can do is fill in the damn hole already:

... In the spirit of returning and improving the vitality of this central downtown neighborhood, the developers should be ordered to make the graded site available to the Boston Public Market Association (www.bostonpublicmarket.org).

Given that Vornado and Gale have shown no signs of resuming construction before Fall of 2009, the former Filenes site is a perfect location to temporarily host the Boston Public Market. Located in the heart of the bustling financial district, accessible by the various MBTA stations and to the numerous area employees, residents and tourists, a public market offering organic produce will serve as a significant asset to the neighborhood. The Boston Public Market Association offers locally grown, healthy and affordable fresh food and is a refreshing alternative to the various fast food restaurants in the area. This is an interim solution that will seek to reinvigorate the suffering neighborhood and address the serious concern of the existing blighted site. ...

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Comments

I'm wondering whether whatever contracts exist between the developers and Boston on this project already cover the current situation.

Perhaps the paperwork has the developers liable for up to a gazillion dollars of concessions, and Boston has been more than accommodating thus far in not demanding our due.

Or perhaps the fault is not the developers', or not entirely.

In addition to the compelling suggestion (if, perhaps, electioneering grandstanding), I'd also like to read more investigation of this story. This is yet another time that we need the Globe.

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I can never remember where and when/where the market is so it would be nice to have it in the same place. Thanks for the Boston Public Market link too.

One a related topic. I find myself avoiding Haymarket more often now after overhearing someone say "...everything is rotten there." and thinking back on many of my purchases.

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They sell the stuff the supermarkets wouldn't take. It's like a warehouse outlet for produce, one big clearance rack. If you're not planning to eat it that day, you might as well be dumpster diving.

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Boston needs the equivalent of Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, a giant food hall filled with everything from Amish bakeries and butcher stands to fresh produce and Italian imports. As a downtown destination, it draws tourists and locals alike — it's next to the convention center and you can sit and eat three (or six) meals a day there. We couldn't stay out of the place, it was like a powerful electron magnet.

A dozen kinds of chocolate-covered pretzels? Amish peach ice cream? Cheese steaks? I'm there!

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The plan is to put something similar to that in the first floor of the Haymarket Garage. Why bother wasting the money to have a temporary short term place when we're already spending the money to build another permanent place?

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Because anything's better than a giant goddamn hole in the ground that only serves to emphasize failure?

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The *planning* going on right now for Haymarket has been criticized as being too little space. We're talking about 3,000 fewer square feet than Cleveland's version! Meanwhile, a place like Seattle has whole city blocks dedicated to Pike Place.

Plus, there are going to be problems keeping regular Haymarket open while they remodel the garage property. Not so, if they were to use the Filene's location. They'd probably reach more business/lunch people over in DTX than up by Haymarket. The proposals at Haymarket have space for 25-50 stalls. I'd imagine you could get quite more into the Filene's space and everything would be built as needed for all the stalls instead of retrofitting dead space by Haymarket.

Finally, you could pave and prep the Filene's hole quickly and cost-effectively to hold the market for now. The garage spot at Haymarket is 2-3 years away at its earliest. This is a temp solution proposal, not a final stop for the market (although I could see it being a nice spot for a market actually).

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There are a number of produce stands downtown, as well as the farmer's market at Copley. What might also work in that area is a crafter's market like This One. The location has enough foot traffic from tourists wandering about the area that it might support such a venture.

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Boston Public Market and Haymarket are entirely different things. BPM would sell seasonal local produce. Haymarket is an escape valve for commercial produce wholesalers. They're not the same thing, and shouldn't be in the same place. If people think they have to shove their way through mobs of rotten strawberry hawkers, they won't come to the BPM.

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Couldn't agree more with you about Philadelphia's market. It is exactly what Boston needs--and that location is perfect.

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It's good to see one of our mayoral candidates getting behind a creative idea that would be a real draw.

Hopefully all the candidates will come up with more ideas for DTX. Surely all these smart, connected people should be able to deliver vibrant, exciting plans for reviving the area.

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....would you create a temp site when a perm site is about to be finished for the produce market?

Also, what is Flahertys feelings on his and his fathers "blight" on O & 3rd Street? The property has been left neglected for years. It has been the source of houndreds of neighbor complaints for over a decade and now he is trying to turn it into their own little retirement fund with a condo development. Hypocracy? Entitlement? Arrogance? I would say all three sum up that klan.

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The permanent site will be open in 2012 at the soonest.

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BPM has been working for months with the City, the Mass Turnpike and the Rose Kennedy Conservancy to return to the Dewey Square/South Station location, where they operated for two previous years, but took a one year hiatus due to issues with loading/unloading, which apparently are now just about resolved. Did the Councilor speak with anyone at BPM about it? If not, it's just another "political" press release.

BTW - the Legislature, through the leadership of Rep. Liz Malia, included a $10 million authorization for a public market in Boston as a "hub" for showcasing local produce. The site is waiting, let's get it done!

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