Globe’s on the move: Why not stay in Dot?

Boston Globe's property: Based in Dorchester since 1958.Boston Globe's property: Based in Dorchester since 1958.

Some day soon, the Boston Globe property on Morrissey Boulevard will be sold and its hulking, three-story Pulitzer Prize-making plant will be pulverized. That’s a given and we’re good with it.

What we don’t know – yet – is the identity of the new steward of the 16-acre preserve on the banks of Patten’s Cove. But whoever takes the deed will no doubt bring us condos and baked goods and free wi-fi. Maybe we’ll even get a nice chain restaurant, the first of its kind outside of South Bay.

No complaints here. The Globe’s cafeteria is great and all, but it’s no Cheesecake Factory. (It is, however, a step up from the “cafeteria” here at the Dorchester Reporter, which, at present, consists of a cranky Keurig machine, a few packets of Splenda, and a mini-fridge destined for some Forry kid’s dorm room.)

The truth is that long before John and Linda Pizzuti Henry came on the scene, Dorchester folks have been plotting ways to pave new streets right through the Globe’s corridor spaces. I’m not referring to Bill Bulger’s veiled threats to “widen Morrissey Boulevard”; he was joking about that, I think.

I am referring instead to a duly authorized master planning task force organized by Tom Menino’s BRA that started its work back in ’07.

In its report, which was published four years later, the committee noted for the record that there was no reason – at that time, at least – to think the Globe would be leaving us. But the authors were just being nice about it; the task force wasted no time carving up the Globe’s acres with abandon, designing a warren of new streets to make way for “mixed use” whatever. Except, no dorms or sports stadiums. We see you, UMass!

But lest John Henry and his team mistake Dorchester’s enthusiasm for cheesecake and condos as somehow being inhospitable, let’s make it very clear: We want the Globe site cleared to welcome a new, vibrant neighborhood. But that doesn’t mean the Globe has to leave us behind! In fact, we think you ought to stay, or at least consider that option.

In an interview last summer, Mike Sheehan, the former ad executive hired by John Henry to run the Globe’s business side day-to-day, told Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth magazine that he’s partial to bringing the Globe’s newsroom to the Seaport district. It would be nice for everyone to be able to walk to South Station, he said. When probed on whether the Morrissey encampment hasn’t been within sufficient striking distance of the state capital all these decades, Sheehan quipped: “We’re close to Quincy.”

Is there some secret script in the city zoning code mandating that downsizing daily newspapers in the city have to move to the “Innovation District” – aka “The Seaport”or the “South Boston waterfront?”

We know: Pat Purcell did it at the Herald and they're very nice digs. But since when does the Globe follow the Herald on anything?

Southie is hot and "innovative" right now. But five years from now? Played out! Look outside your front windows, Globies. You’re at ground zero of the next big development surge in Boston. You’re right across the street from a nationally ranked Jesuit high school and the region’s fastest growing university, UMass Boston, a key hub in the state’s tech and science sector where Chancellor Keith Motley has a new building coming on line every other month. The late, great Ted Kennedy’s shrine to the US Senate is opening next spring. Mount Vernon Street running out to the harbor is about to boom with new housing, hotel rooms, and restaurants. And if you want waterfront views, you’ve already got them.

The shovels are about to hit the dirt everywhere you look. And you want to leave to shave six minutes off your ride to the commuter rail station?

To his credit, Sheehan told the Reporter this week that Dorchester will be in the mix as the Globe scouts new locations. “Nothing’s off the table,” he said.

That’s the right posture. Globe reporters and editors don’t just need to get to the State House, City Hall, and South Station. They should have easy access to the city’s diverse neighborhoods – and play a central role in engaging kids from this part of town.

This is a big leadership decision for John and Linda Pizzuti Henry. Where they land in their new quarters will say something about their Boston Globe and its direction. Leaving Dorchester will be a statement that sends the wrong message.

The Globe has been our neighbor since Ike and Mamie were in the White House. It’s an important institution in the region and it’s an important one in our neighborhood, too. You just got here. Stick around a while. We think you’ll come to love it.

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