Study of Greenway’s Adjacent Properties Shows Need for Coordination, Planning

July 13, 2004

Boston  – Recommendations to integrate and enliven the properties directly adjacent to the Rose Kennedy Greenway in the Wharf District have been released in a study funded by the Boston Foundation and sponsored by the Artery Business Committee.  The Wharf District – the central section of the Greenway from roughly Commercial Street to Broad Street – is currently a mix of office space, tourist sites, entertainment, and hotels.  The “Edges Study” presents a blueprint for converting the ‘back doors’ of properties along the Greenway to facades that will be inviting and promote pedestrian activity, and to establish a uniform look to the sidewalks and street paving emanating out from the Greenway.

“Now that the large green steel girders supporting the elevated highway are coming down, buildings that turned their backs to the elevated Central Artery for nearly 50 years will be facing dazzling new park space,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation.  “Property owners will want to modify ground floors, lobby entrances, and sidewalks to blend with the new landscape, and governmental agencies and civic and nonprofit groups will need to work together to create a space that works for everyone. We hope that this report inspires all the concerned parties to strive for more coherence along the Greenway itself.”

The study actually maps every square foot of the Wharf District, which includes parcels 14, 15, 16, 17a and 17b, documenting every detail of first-floor land surface, whether it’s grass, brick, or blacktop, and its use, whether it’s retail, office, residential, or dumpster. The result is, according to the Boston Globe, “an extraordinary slide presentation, a bird’s-eye view of the city that was used to determine how the Greenway will fit in with the rest of the city.  That colorful, revealing look at Boston today would make a good evening’s entertainment for the scores of publicly minded Boston residents who flock to meetings to contribute their ideas about Boston’s future.”

Among the report’s recommendations are a sidewalk café at the base of International Place, new pedestrian gateways near the James Hook & Co. lobster pound to invite passage to the South Boston Waterfront, new lighting and trees in front of Rowes Wharf and Harbor Towers, and the conversion of the façade of the Harbor Garage so that images can be projected onto it.  In some cases, these improvements would require minor modifications to the basic framework of surface streets, sidewalks, and park spaces currently being built by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which oversees the $14.6 billion Big Dig and is leading the restoration of the surface of the project.

Some improvements are already in the works, including a small park and a new lobby entrance at the Grain Exchange building, and plans for new plazas and public space around 255 State Street, near the Long Wharf Marriott and the New England Aquarium.

The study was developed in cooperation with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Boston Transportation Department, Boston Department of Parks and Recreation, Central Artery Tunnel Project, and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.  The team of consultants working on the project included Hubert Murray, Architect and Planner, David Neilson, Jung Brannen Associates, and Chan Krieger Associates.

Including the Wharf District Corridor Edges Study, the Boston Foundation has made roughly $180,000 in grants to ensure that the newly reclaimed parkway realizes its full potential.  Three years ago the Foundation, along with MIT’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning, the Boston Globe, and WCVB-Channel 5, sponsored the community outreach efforts of a “Beyond the Big Dig” public information and civic engagement campaign.  This campaign resulted in a televised Town Hall Meeting at Faneuil Hall and a series of community meetings called “Creative Community Conversations.”  Another grant to the Artery Business Community – the organization established in 1988 to represent the interests of the business community during the design and construction of the Central Artery/Tunnel project – for a feasibility study for cultural facilities in the Wharf District.

The Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, has an endowment of almost $650 million, made grants of  $48 million to nonprofit organizations, and received gifts of $38 million last year. The Boston Foundation is made up of 750 separate charitable funds, which have been established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Boston Foundation also serves as a civic leader, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to build community. For more information about the Boston Foundation and its grant making, visit , or call 617-338-1700.