Sunday, January 18, 2015

Parcel 24 becomes One Greenway...

...and Chinatown regains some ground

The Photos:

Photo 1: Looking east on Kneeland Street.
Photo 2: Looking south on Hudson Street.

Photo 3: Looking south on Albany Street.

Photo 4: From the parking lot between Tyler and Hudson,
looking northeast.

Photo 5: Harrison Avenue, looking south from Essex Street.

The Location: Approx. 90 Kneeland Street, or the block bounded by Kneeland, Hudson, and Albany streets, Boston's Chinatown.

The Story: One particularly interesting aspect urban life is the changing makeup of the people who populate certain patches of ground in successive waves before moving on and out, sometimes willingly, sometimes not. Much of what is now the southern half of Boston's Chinatown, effectively the area south of Kneeland Street and east of Washington and bounded on the other 2 sides by the Fitzgerald Expressway and the Massachusetts Turnpike Extension, was part of the South Bay/South Cove until being filled in the 1830s. Soon after being developed, the neighborhood experienced a wave of Irish immigration and, then, in relatively rapid succession over the next hundred years, European Jews, Syrians and Lebanese, and finally Chinese and East Asian immigrants. The area today is the southern half of Chinatown, which has long been handicapped by the fact that a substantial swath was taken for the aforementioned turnpike extension and expressway 50 years ago, resulting in multiple highway on- and off-ramps and the trench of the turnpike itself. Parcel 24's location was, before the highway, a regular block bounded by Kneeland, Hudson, Harvard, and Albany, and home to dozens of mid-19th century Boston row houses, similar in scale and character, it seems, to nearby Bay Village.

With the Big Dig's submergence of the highway, Parcel 24 became available for potential redevelopment and Asian CDC, Chinatown's homegrown community development corporation, teamed with New Boston Fund to obtain the redevelopment rights from the state to pursue the mixed-use project that is now dubbed One Greeway. It has been a long road back: Those rights were initially acquired almost a decade ago, but construction of the project was delayed by the Great Recession's real estate downturn and only commenced in late 2013. As can be seen from the photos, One Greenway is another in the wave of new buildings that we here at RTUF have found worthy of note. It puts height at the right place - along Kneeland - meets its key street frontages appropriately and activates them with retail uses, and represents the kind of thoughtful infill development that we need more of.

The RTUF Sketch: The sketch shows that the building shown on the photos above is just the north building of the development, to be followed up a public park and a smaller south building:

A post script: A while back, RTUF took a look at Franklin Street at Arch and called for much less paved space for cars and more space for people (It's really way past time...). The last photo above, of Harrison Avenue below Essex Street, is another such location. Way too much pavement going to waste. Come spring, this would be an ideal location for some traffic barrels, some tables and chairs and a few umbrellas. Definitely underperforming for those of us on foot.

Blog Post No. 2015-1.