Thursday, July 25, 2013

Municipal Harbor Planning Meeting

Today we went to the planning meeting for the harbor at 290 Congress St.

Yami Tsipis with the Marriott Long Wharf was the first to speak. He presented what was called the " Edge Activation Project" ,which entailed ideas about what could be done with 3 edges that currently are unused at the Marriott Long Wharf. He kept mentioning he wanted to find a compromise where the empty space would be enriching for the hotel and for the public as well. The architecture of the building was the result of a specific compromise with the city back when the construction of the hotel began .

The hotel is focusing on "what modest incremental investment could be made" to ensure the edges of the hotel are made to good use. Yami proposed to wrap the edges with inviting and active uses. Inviting retail stores to surround the hotel on the bay side along with reinforcing the State street access that is currently not used as much.

What was interesting about this speaker was that he kept mentioning that this was not a set project that it wasn't even a proposal it was just an idea that could be worked with. Bruce brought up the idea that sitting space was still needed and Yami agreed,however, nothing was completely set or decided. Like he said, this was just an opportunity for him to show what the hotel was thinking about when dealing with the future. My question would be : Is the hotel property value increasing or decreasing by adding all these small shops near it? Is it attracting the type of crowd the hotel wants? What exactly is this hotel getting in return ?

The second speaker was Dick Mulligan from the BRA.He spoke about the small issues he has to deal with when people begin suggesting new ideas or projects such as garbage being picked up or light bulbs being changed in different streets. He also spoke about current problems facing the land that BRA owns . Problems such as bins floating during high tide, empty parking lots, and homeless people.

I didn't really understand why Dick spoke. He wasn't proposing an image for the harbor in the future and he wasn't complaining about one specific problem. He just went up there and shared his thoughts. I thought it was awesome that he wasn't only worried about a specific building but that he cared about different areas of the city(this may be because the areas are BRA owned). He shared ideas that I feel needed to be heard,because no one else would think of small details like he did. It was very informative.

David Lucey spoke for 255 State street. He mentioned his building being very old, similar to a few other buildings in the area. This building is 97% leased space with the first floor being opened mostly to the public (restaurant and ice cream shop). Their main problem with this building rises when water causes them to have to move everything from their basement to higher levels. He spoke about a future idea that would incorporate somehow making it so that the people renting the spaces dint have to store equipment in the basement level. In addition he also mentioned some future ideas for renovations of the outside of the building along with a brighter and better entrance.

I thought this was an interesting presentation because they were worried both about the public and about their renters as well. They wanted the building to become a better building both for the public and for the people living there. (This could be due to the fact that the building affects both). Their ideas were reasonable and needed and they realized this. It was very well executed and not a lot of people had questions about this.

The final speaker was representing the New England Aquarium. His main points in his presentation were that they wanted to create a brand recognition and that they wanted more uniformity on the outside of the aquarium. He mentioned and showed ideas for ways of distinguishing the aquarium for tourists that didn't know where or what the New England Aquarium was. All of his ideas that he showed would cost a few million dollars including the idea if an LCD screen outside one side of the building showing underwater footage or animal feeding from inside the aquarium. He also spoke about renovating the outside facade of the building facing the water that clearly needs s lot of help (gray cement walls). He basically proposed a lot of ideas on creating an identity for the aquarium.

I really enjoyed how well prepared his presentation was. Although all of his presentations were just ideas on what could be done with the aquarium, they all seemed very well prepared and thought out . The New England Aquarium seems to be heading in the right direction under the management that it is currently under .

I enjoyed listening to all the ideas that the speakers had to offer to make Boston a more inviting and unique place for visitors to come to. Tourism is a big part of Boston's economy and it only makes sense to invest so much time and money into it.

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