CWP meeting story in the Crimson - Where should our planning focus be?

The Harvard Crimson reports on last night's A/B North Community Wide Plan meeting in this story and I was told the presentation shown by the BRA at the meeting will be posted on the CWP website (though it isn't there yet).

Regarding the quotes that Sal and I have at the end of the Crimson story, we have been told by the City's Chief Planner that Charlesview relocation is going to move ahead soon, and I think this is an opportunity that we should welcome. The empty KMart isn't good for anyone, new housing will be good for Charlesview, and the whole project should have a variety of benefits for Harvard and everyone else.

Considering the immediacy of this, the largest non-institutional development that has ever, or will ever, happen in our neighborhood, I see no reason for us to spend time now pondering the future of the Riverview Triangle (the wedge of land between Soldiers Field Rd and Birmingham Parkway - home to Martignetti's, Staples, Acura of Boston, IHOP, etc.) Decades from now that may be a very different area, but right now it isn't going anywhere and doesn't impact decisions about design, economic integration, creation of new retail space, public parkland, demographics of new housing, or much of anything that is germane to how several hundred new neighbors can best be added into the Brighton Mills area.

Markets change, plans change, owners change, politics change, and history is filled with examples of developments that bear little or no resemblance to what was planned. For example, the North Allston Strategic Framework identified the site that is now the Science Complex hole as a location for graduate student housing. The Framework established height limits that are greatly exceeded by the Science Complex.

Across town, a master plan was created a few years ago for the Fort Point Channel area of South Boston to create "a vibrant 24-hour, mixed-use neighborhood". But then last year the City approved plans for a very different type of development - the expansion of historic warehouses to create more office space. The Globe reported that "both properties are zoned for a mix of commercial and residential uses, developers say the current real estate market will only support office space."

In spite of all this, I certainly believe there is value in long-term planning. At the same time, we are on the verge of a large, complex, and controversial development that won't be delayed indefinitely while we consider the distant future.

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