(Photo L to R: John Hynes of Boston Globe Investors, Heather Boujoulian of Berkshire Group, John Drew of The Drew Company, Phil Casey of CBT, John Khayali of Suffolk Construction, Daniel Dain of Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C.)
As the city of Boston has grown and evolved throughout the years, its neighborhoods have changed as well. This is especially true for Boston’s Seaport District.
During the Bisnow State of the Seaport conference, John Hynes of Boston Globe Investors, Heather Boujoulian of Berkshire Group, John Drew of The Drew Company, Phil Casey of CBT, John Khayali of Suffolk Construction and Daniel Dain of Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C. had an interesting discussion about the creation of a neighborhood in the Seaport District, which got the Nickerson team thinking about the evolution of neighborhoods.
Five years ago the walk to from the Financial District from the Seaport District felt like ages because there was nothing in the area.
Today in the Seaport, cranes seem to rise every other week, erecting office buildings, condominiums, retail stores, and restaurants. With all the new mixed-use construction and amenities in the area, coupled with the location — across from downtown, right off the highway, and just a short T ride to the airport —the Seaport is a prime spot for growth. But how does a developer turn a prime area into a true neighborhood with a sense of community?
Although an area may be connected with sidewalks, walking bridges and public transportation, the pedestrian feel is a major component when considering a neighborhood, without this factor an area isn’t truly considered a neighborhood.
Mixed-use developments are beneficial and certainly draw attention to the area helping to transform it into a community, but at the heart of all great neighborhoods is social interaction and vitality, similar to what we learned during the first panel discussion with innovation in the work space.
Social interaction starts with great public spaces that allows for people to gather, which many mixed-use developments are incorporating, then follows the pedestrian traffic – which by the way has picked up tremendously in the Seaport – new retail also helps to add onto this community feel. All of these aspects serves as pieces to the larger ‘neighborhood’ puzzle.
Another major advantage to mixed-use is activity, people who live in a neighborhood are looking for active lifestyles with a clear sense of work life balance. The Seaport provides you with just that, you can go to work, run an errand and be home all within in a few blocks making the convenience factor key.
The Seaport is also interesting in the fact that from afar you get an extremely different feeling than the feeling you get when you are walking down one of the blocks in the Seaport. Each individual aspect of the Seaport is expressed differently with its own character and feel, creating a unique sense of community. After all, as stated during the panel discussion we don’t want the Seaport to feel like anywhere USA.