All posts tagged: the development boogieman

scenes from haymarket.

this is a slightly edited version of a talk I gave at the Harvard GSD last week as part of a seminar with Richard Sennett, on the subject of the Architecture of Cooperation.  This is Haymarket, Boston’s historic wholesale produce market.  It dates to the early 19th century as part of a market district that comprised Quincy Market and the fishing docks in the North End. The market has existed in its current location since 1952, when the state relocated the market from Haymarket Square (nearby) in order to erect perhaps the most important — and impermeable — border in Boston’s history, the Central Artery.  The market’s current condition continues to be bound up in the story of the Artery. Today, the Central Artery has been undergrounded through the Big Dig, and the boundary has been reimagined as a “seam”, the Rose Kennedy Greenway park.  The development of the Greenway has followed Downtown Boston’s overall redevelopment, which began with the Harbor cleanup and the development of the Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market festival marketplace in the 1970s.  …

paris 2.

Before we left for Paris I read Leonard Pitt’s Walk through Lost Paris, a great, albeit opinionated, primer on the planning history of Paris.  Beginning with Napoleon III and Baron von Hausmann’s transformation of the city from a Medieval cesspool to a dynamic 19th century metropolis, the book provides good background for the changes in the city fabric over time.  The real power of the book, though, is in the loving research that Pitt conducted of the small sites that have remained throughout the many phases of demolition and reimagining in the city.  He pored through photo archives and painstakingly wandered the city trying to find exact matches and clues to the past of a building, square, or corner.  He will juxtapose historic and present-day images to show you how things have changed; the most valuable resource is a historic map of the city that shows how whole streets and districts moved over time. While I never walked the city with it open in front of me, I did love returning back to our apartment …

lexington community farm and the CPA

I had an exciting conversation yesterday while I was in Lexington picking up my last share from Shared Harvest CSA.  An exciting conversation about land use!  The town has recently acquired the former Busa Farm land and is now trying to decide how to redevelop it.  Since Lexington purchased the land with funds collected through the  Community Preservation Act, the site will remain mostly open space.  There will likely also be some affordable housing included in the plan.  The town-wide debate is mostly over what form of open space it will be; the people at lexfarm.org want it to be used as a community farm, while many “soccer parents” want to see the land turned into a sports field. Currently there are no farm advocates on the appointed board for the redevelopment project. This reminded me a lot of what’s going on in Milton, except that Milton hasn’t yet enacted the CPA and their debate is primarily over the affordable housing decision.  Lexington seems pretty okay with small-scale affordable housing on Busa Land.  Seeing as …

what’s a town to do?

The Globe has been buzzing this week about a growing controversy in Milton.  Faced with dwindling assets and crumbling buildings, the Milton Poor Farm is now embroiled in a heated and all-too-familiar debate about its future use.  Designated in 1701 by Governor Stoughton as land to be used in perpetuity to benefit the city’s poor, the Poor Farm sits on 35 acres of desirable undeveloped land surrounded by large single-family homes on suburban roads and cul-de-sacs.  As you might imagine, the question is: should the land be developed? I’ll be writing a series on this story as it progresses and as I learn more.  So by way of introduction, I invite you to read the editorial, and comments, posted in today’s Globe.  Also check out Jenifer McKim’s good overview article, published on Tuesday.  They discuss how local residents resist the development of affordable housing on the site, in favor of creating a historic site that could be used for tourism, farming, and the existent animal shelter use.  The town is in favor of restricted affordable …

of blight and building

I was amused when I came across this flyer a couple of weeks ago: What I find funny about this poster is that while its creator clearly assumed that the natural answer to these questions would be, “No!  High-rise development is evil!”, some people felt so strongly the opposite that they were compelled to take out a pen from their pocket or purse and write their opinion on the poster.  And that’s how it is in Cambridge, where everyone is an activist, the general assumption is that everyone is against development, and people rarely fail to voice their (strong) opinions. A little background: the building under discussion was the long-time home of Bowl and Board, a home-furnishings store owned by Mike Giarusso.  It was part of a small New England chain which Giarusso opened in 1956.  He recently came upon some very hard times and moved from the Cambridge location to a storefront in Davis Square.  Unfortunately, due to financial and legal pressure, he was forced to liquidate his stores and close up shop this past summer. …