Careful steps on development
Editorial, Globe Staff, 02/09/00
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino usually sees the trap as well as the bait in
most development situations. Yesterday, he wisely reminded business leaders at
a Boston Municipal Research Bureau lunch that he will be "treading very
carefully" when it comes to public investment in a new Fenway Park.
Unlike Baltimore, where city and state funds paid for 80 percent of a new
baseball stadium, the Fenway area is not that desperate for a development fix.
City financing, Menino said, will depend on the public's "share of the return"
and improvements along the Boylston Street corridor.
Menino was weaker on the development of the Fan Pier area. While chiding an
early plan by the Pritzker development team "that looked more like Chicago
than Boston," he laid the groundwork for his own bulky version. Menino is
asking the Pritzker development team to limit building heights on the Fan Pier
cove to 250 feet. But state environmentalists, waterfront boosters, and nearby
residents are not prepared to accept such heights, especially if building
density threatens to block the public's view and access to the waterfront.
Neither is this page.
The mayor should not be endorsing, or agreeing to, specific height
guidelines along the waterfront until he has the opportunity to develop a
coordinated plan for the entire stretch between the new federal courthouse and
Pier 4, as well as the properties owned by developer Frank McCourt across
The mayor was especially crafty on the subject of McCourt, who insists he
won't develop his portion of the South Boston waterfront along the sterile
model of Kendall Square in Cambridge. Without naming him directly, Menino
issued a challenge to the coy McCourt to "step forward" with a plan for a
public park at the site. The challenge was well-timed. McCourt is expected to
reveal his site plans within the next few weeks.
Any mistakes on Fan Pier will vex Boston for decades to come. The mayor
needs to tread carefully where development traps await.