Friday, July 15, 2011

Blog Post No. 2011-12: Boylston Street in the Fenway... just keeps getting better

This one is another of our media commentaries here at RTUF ("They report it, we give it the once over..."), though this time the media is actually just doing RTUF's work for it. [Thank you, Media!!!] First, it was Russ with the pictures in the last entry, now it's the real estate beat reporter in the relatively recent pages of The Boston Globe talking about the remarkable restoration of the urban fabric along a thoroughfare that as recently as the early part of the last decade felt like a fairly dated and poorly designed suburban strip dropped in the very heart of the city. Not so anymore. In his piece from last Thursday's edition entitled "Fenway facelift continues," Casey Ross traces the two major new developments (plus the Jerry Remy/Guitar Center rehab that has been a huge hit (pun intended)) that have begun to create the active streetscape and walkable development on Boylston Street envisioned in 2004 when the City adopted a new neighborhood zoning article for the area after several years of strategic planning and visioning for the ballpark and its surrounding area. The Globe even includes, dare we say it (!), a RTUF-like little graphic showing how the most recent developments have filled in the street wall and started to make a real, respectable urban boulevard. And like RTUF, they aren't giving the McDonald's site redevelopers any credit until they actually put the building down on the site:..

Sources: BRA, Boston Globe.

Additional comment: In thinking a bit more about this post over the weekend, one additional comment seems in order. The almost-immediate decision made by the Henry/Lucchino ownership group to keep Fenway Park instead of tearing it down and building an imitation next door (as had been proposed by the prior ownership group) has made a huge difference to the neighborhood. Starting in 2003, the ballpark has undergone a series of carefully conceived and brilliantly executed renovations under the leadership of architect Janet Marie Smith that have enlarged the seating capacity from 33,000 to over 39,000 and, simultaneously, given the park a better look and feel. The Wikipedia entry lists them here and I will say for the record that in my opinion the best of them was taking down the windows on what was the .406 Club. I say in there once with a friend from law school and it was one of the more disconnected experiences I've ever had watching a sporting event in person. I mean, the crowd sounds had to be piped in because you were behind this wall of glass, sitting directly above home plate. Fenway Park can and should be many things, but antiseptic is decidedly not one of them. So, instead of enduring the upheaveal of moving the ballpark for little practical gain (and a lot of loss in terms of continuity and authenticity), the neighborhood has seen its most famous asset cared for and polished to look the best it may have ever looked, and Boylston Street just keeps getting better...