Seaport Square, A New 23 Acre Development, Thoughtfully Expands the Amount of Public Green Space and “Live-Work-Play” Amenities
At over 7.6 million square feet, the Seaport Square development is one of the largest of its kind in the reinvigorated Boston neighborhood of the Seaport District, which is currently planning a number of new projects, both commercial and residential. Seaport Square is intended to be a multi-use property, with 2.8 million square feet of office space, 476,800 square feet for a hotel, 3.2 million square feet for 3200 residential units, and 1.12 million square feet designated for retail, restaurant, and entertainment purposes. The project has also demarcated segments of the 23 acre site for public green space, although the specific form of this space is still being determined.
In a forward-thinking attempt to ensure that future generations of Seaport residents are able to relish open space, city officials have asked the developers to consider linking the pre-existing Fan Pier Park to the proposed Harbor Way Park. In a previous iteration of the plans, The Harbor Way Park spanned the Seaport waterfront in a linear fashion from Northern Avenue to Summer Street, but did not join Fan Pier Park. The plans for the development included several smaller green spaces, placed throughout the property, as well as a public outdoor sculpture park designed by a landscape architecture firm who has created award-winning landscape installations in dense urban settings in places such as Santa Monica and New York City’s famous High Line.
In a report released to the public in September, the developers revealed that they had increased the total square footage of the continuous park area from 55,000 square feet to a little over 66,000 square feet, which is slightly more than 1.5 acres. The developers did this primarily via a revamped landscape plan that would feature a so-called “hinge point” along Harbor Way at Seaport Boulevard. This hinge point would visually join Seaport Common and Fan Pier Green, creating a throughline between two major green spaces while also maintaining a visual link between Boston Harbor and the Harborwalk. The plan also eliminates a few planned vehicular roadways, reverting the access to pedestrian-only, and thereby substantially expands the amount of green space available. This shift creates natural continuity along the chosen blocks within the project.
The developers also have promised a “wide and appealing” sidewalk experience both along the waterfront and within the development itself to foster greater street life and urban vibrancy within the Seaport Square project. To achieve this effect, art installations, as well as spaces for cafe tables and dining, will be integrated into the sidewalks leading up to the harbor. In what seems like an excellent change for the project and the neighborhood at large, the park has also been lowered from above grade level to at grade, making it easily visible to passersby, and creating a more clear and welcoming connection between pedestrians and the green space. The park itself will feature a mixture of so-called passive and active spaces, which include smaller, more intimate areas where thinking and studying can occur, as well as wider, more open areas designed specifically for sports and other festive, outdoor activities. Existing amenities, such as the neighborhood dog run and half-court basketball court in the Sea Green (formerly known as Q Park) area, will be preserved and included in the new plan.
According to the report, these changes not only enable the proposed development to meet the stated goal of making the project a “pedestrian-oriented amenity,” but they also make the best use of existing structural development plans while simultaneously preserving and improving existing and future public green spaces. The report also notes that multiple paths to the water, not just those called out in the reimagined hinge point scenario, should be maintained in order to preserve the integrity and desirability of the property. Part of the motivation behind the development is to create a vibrant “live-work-play” neighborhood, which requires a careful balance of amenities and accessibility.
The developers have also stated their intentions to create a holistic development that attempts to consider every sector of the city, including a community grant program that would award $50,000 a year for 10 years to notable organizations and individuals within the Fort Point area.