Rehab work at and around the former Boston Globe site – now envisioned as an urban innovation campus to be called The BEAT – will include significant contributions by the developer for the care of the adjacent state-owned Patten’s Cove, attendees at a public meeting on the project were told last week.
According to Nordblom Co., the developers of the 135 Morrissey Blvd. parcel, “Adopting the Park” will constitute a long-term arrangement with the current and any future property owners of the onetime Globe property. Ownership of the park itself will remain with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), but the maintenance agreement will be attached to the campus.
Initial work, or the Day One cleanup, should run about $45,000, Nordblom estimates. Much of that work will be tree pruning, done by a licensed arborist with permission from DCR, with ongoing care obligations involving grass cutting, leaf raking, and the like. The upkeep will likely cost about $50,000 per year, according to Nordblom.
“The biggest thing for people is the fact that that commitment is going to travel with the building, so if there’s any sale, the document will travel,” said Savin Hill resident and Impact Advisory Group member Paul Nutting. The cove was his primary interest at the Thursday night meeting, and he feels the development team should put together an advisory group focused solely on any changes to the public park.
“DCR will retain strict control over the park, and views it as an ‘urban wild’ that should not be over-manicured,” Nordblom noted in an email.
The BEAT’s parking lot will connect through multimodal pathways to the cove and to neighboring Savin Hill side streets, though there is not expected to be a vehicular connection. One resident advocated for opening Wave Avenue to the parking lot, allowing access through the site. According to Nordblom, “The vast majority felt it was better closed, or apps such as Waze would cause massive cut-through traffic.”
Another small neighborhood feature, the tiny playground at the end of Wave Avenue, was constructed by the Globe when they locked the gate to its parking lot. The newspaper maintained the play area after that.
“Audience members reminded [the] group that there is a large, new playground on the other side of Savin Hill, and that this small one might be a place for kids to hang out,” Nordblom’s summary said.
Of both the Wave Avenue connection and the playground maintenance, Nordblom said that it would do “whatever the neighborhood would like” by either improve them or removing them.
Public response to the Nordblom initiative has been largely positive throughout the outreach process to date. As Nordblom plans to work with the shell of the Globe building, it expects a quicker turnaround on construction than if it demolished the structure. The company plans to include amenities like open workspace, food and beverage options, and a brew pub, along with flexible office space for tenants ranging from smaller start-ups to high-tech robotics.
The central atrium could be a space for public and community meetings, the Nordblom team has said, and residents have asked for clarity of how they would go about arranging to use it.
Based on his initial observations, Nutting says that “people are thirsting for more things that they can use. So in addition to the brew pub, people would like to see a daycare center open to people other than tenants, a gym open to people other than tenants, other food options for people other than tenants, et cetera.”
The public comment period on current proposals is open until next Monday, March 12. Comments can be submitted online at the bostonplans.org project page, where full site plans can be read, or by email to project manager Raul Duverge at Raul.Duverge@boston.gov.
“We appreciate the comments received at the meeting," said Todd Fremont- Smith, senior vice president of development at Nordblom. "We look forward to our continued work with the community as we make our way through the Article 80 process”