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Boston’s Seaport Square: Developer floats major changes for 12.5 acres

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Out: cultural center, in: promenade

WS Development

Chestnut Hill-based developer WS Development dropped a 635-page corker of a document with the city earlier this week that detailed changes it wants to make to 12.5 acres of the ongoing Seaport Square development in Boston’s—where else?—Seaport District.

The development all totaled runs to 23 acres, a lot of which has already been built up through projects such as the Envoy Hotel and the Watermark apartment complex.

The biggest changes for the 12.5 acres, including additions and subtractions, are as follows (per Catherine Carlock at the Biz Journal):

  • Residential area would increase to 3.2 million square feet from 2.8 million—or to 3,200 residential units from 2,500.
  • Space for innovation incubation increases to 2.9 million square feet from 1.2 million.
  • Introduction of “a diverse array of cultural and civic uses ... that is reflective of the carried needs and interests of Bostons’ arts and cultural community.”
  • Said “diverse array” would mean the end of a 200,000-square-foot performing arts center originally envisioned in a 2010 plan.
  • The planned Seaport Hill Park also appears to be no longer in the cards.
  • Number of parking spaces would shrink 15 percent, to 5,500.
  • New one-third-mile public promenade called Harbor Way, starting at a staircase leading from Summer Street, down a 24-foot grade change, through the Seaport and to the waterfront.
  • A Seaport Boulevard median redesign.
  • A hotel of up to 500,000 square feet

The changes—none of which the necessary authorities have approved—are not sitting well with some, particularly the proposed elimination of the performing arts center and the park.

WS Development’s proposals do increase the density of the overall Seaport Square project 21 percent, to 7.68 million square feet. Does the density offer the right mix, though, for a new neighborhood? Is it too soon to tell? Probably. Stay tuned.