Saturday, April 19, 2014

Boston Public Market moves one step closer to reality...

Time moves faster than most of us, your humble correspondent included, care to admit. So, it was way back in 2010 that RTUF first reported the news that the Boston Public Market folks had won the right to locate on the Greenway in the Haymarket Station/Central Artery Vent Stack/Parking Garage building at the corner of Hanover and Congress Streets. An ideal location, and one we hoped would build momentum and quickly result in something we've sorely missed in Boston for a long time (basically since Quincy Market died nearly 50 years ago): a true, appropriately sized public market to showcase local producers of foodstuffs of all kinds. Well, four years on, our friends at The Boston Globe reported today - BRA approves plans for public food market - that the project finally reached the point where they could secure approval from the BRA Board under the small project review process on Thursday. They now look to actually start construction this summer. It sounds like they still have something a funding gap to get the whole market up and running in a single phase, so they'll do a first phase now and then round out the space as funds come in. Hopefully within a year of this post, we'll be able to report on our first visit to this major new amenity:

Exterior proposed view (corner of Hanover & Congress streets) (credit: BPMA, Boston Globe)

Interior rendering (credit: BPMA, Boston Globe)

(Blog Post No. 2014-4)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Big News in New Urbanist Circles: Lynn Richards to lead CNU (Blog Post No. 2014-3)

You can find the press release here: Lynn Richards named new president of CNU. She replaces former Milwaukee mayor John Norquist, who held the reins for a decade. As the press release indicates (and as this blog has shown), the tide is really turning broadly in favor of the kind of walkable, mixed-use development that CNU has promoted for over 20 years. I don't know Ms. Richards myself, but judging by the enthusiasm of CNU board members with whom I spoke about the decision recently (each of whom steadfastly refused to divulge the identity of the new president until it was finally made public today), I think we're going to be well-led at this critical moment.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sometimes a simple statistic about a simple thing tells you an awful lot... (Blog Post No. 2014-2)

Friend and colleague Wendy Landman, executive director of WalkBoston here in the old Hub o' the Universe, recently pointed me to a Cities Blog piece from The Atlantic to the effect that In the U.S., a quick walk to the store is a rare thing indeed. Intuitively, anyone who gives the question any thought really shouldn't be surprised at what WalkScore found: even in cities with over 500,000 residents, the vast majority in America do not live anywhere close to the studied metric of a 5 minute walk from home to a store selling fresh produce. So given over have we been to motordom for really the last century that it's almost a shock that there's still anyplace -- outside of usual exception New York (which checks in at 72%) -- where more than half of the housing stock is that close to fresh produce. But San Francisco (59%) and Philadelphia (57%) make it, with a cluster of cities in the 40s, led by your blogspondent's home city making it to 4th on the list at 45%. From there, it gets ugly, and Indianapolis rates as the least walkable on this measureat at just 5%.

As this weblog has said before, to live in the United States over the last 100 years has been to be the subject of a massive social experiment to see what happens to people and their environments when physical activity -- especially walking -- is squeezed out of their every day routines. It has been systematic, it has been ruthless, and we've all been affected. One of the key benefits of the ultimate demise of motordom will simply be the chance for increasing numbers of us to access things like the fixings for a salad without being forced into our vehicles.