Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Expansion

BCEC meeting Jan. 18th 2012

BK Boley of ADD Inc kindly hosted. ADD Inc is involved in some of the preliminary planning for the expansion.

Partial list of non-resident attendees:

Jim Rooney Executive Director BCEC, Senator Jack Hart, Representative Nick Collins, Bob O’Shea Community Liaison BCEC, Howard Davis (BCEC)

Moderator: FPNA board member Cam Sawzin

1. Senator Hart was introduced and made some useful comments, which included:

  • The desire to work more closely with the community and promise to approve the legislation only when he and the community were comfortable with the plan.
  • · Work to prevent the “Innovation district” from changing the unique character of Fort Point.

2. Representative Nick Collins was introduced and supports the community’s open dialog with the BCEC regarding the expansion.

3. Presentation by Jim Rooney, Coe BCEC

4. Presentation by Howard Davis, Director of Capital Projects, BCEC Oversaw BCEC construction 1999-2004

5. Discussion and questions

Items Clarified and updated:

  • Gate shows restriction was lifted by legislature
  • South of Summer St. hotel restriction (except Westin) remains & requires legislative approval if community wants it lifted (per Sen. Hart)

Expansion program:

  • They need 15-20 acres; 1.2 M sq ft facility w/ 500K-800K sq ft exhibit space
  • (They are now #27 in country in size)
  1. Hotels – mid-priced and HQs
  2. MassDot maintenance facility now on D St. (services tunnels and houses state troopers) was to be moved to the Fort Point side of the haul road, but because of objections from the Fort Point residents who attended previous meetings this idea has been taken off the table.

 

Hotels:

 

Mid-priced:

  • Need 800 rooms at 200 rooms/hotel, each on 1.5 acres
  • Mid-2013 earliest start
  • $50-60 under Westin’s $200/night average (Westin peak is over $400)

HQs:

  • The BCEC has 1,700 of 5-7,000 rms. Needed
  • They are short 4,000 rooms today
  • Target is 6-8,000 rooms within ½ mile radius
  • RFP going out
  • Options under review: parcel D3 and Core Block (owned by Massport);
  • USPS land more or less behind 319 A St.
  • 2014 earliest possible start
  • They want a pedestrian bridge, possible at Wormwood axis

 

Open Space

Comments offered by Vivien Lee, Steve Hollinger, Melanie Ray, Cam Sawzin, Charles Joseph, Christine Vaillancourt and others.

  • The importance of living up to original promises around initial construction (
  • Call for BCEC to invest substantially now in surrounding infrastructure (Cross Roads Initiative) on Summer Street as smart business move and contribution to Ft. Pt. residential neighborhood
  • When the BCEC was in planning stages residents attending meetings asked for a roof garden and that the roof be a way to get to other areas of the neighborhood, providing a natural connection for Fort Point Channel events. They also asked for landscaping to create a buffer between the loading bays and back of the BCEC. Charles Joseph, who is a real estate broker, suggested that trees planted along the haul road would make it more appealing for developers.

Call for civic and public amenities – open space, kids play space, dog parks, community gardens, civic facilities, etc. Green space and amenities are planned only for the other side of the BCEC.

  • To offer a welcoming façade from ALL directions and positively integrate the expansion into future plans for Fort Point. The BCEC shouldn’t have a “back end” oriented towards Fort Point as it is now. The concern expressed was that it shows a lack of attention to residents of this community. Residents look forward to finding creative solutions for this issue. Much of Fort Point Place and all rear-facing buildings on Channel Center Street, including future residential and office development in progress look out on and abut this side of the BCEC.
  • Westward expansion notes from BCEC information on T-5.

“Across the railroad, the haul road, and the South Boston Bypass Road into the 100-Acres development, the Fort Point Channel area and eventually across the Fort Point Channel to South Station. The entrance lobbies of some of the proposed BCEC buildings should also be accessible from the 100-acres development.”

Moderator read a quote from the BRA website about the goal for urban framework for an expanded BCEC campus:

“To create a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood with substantial residential and civic uses to attract people to the are for more than the work day” …with an expanded BCEC campus seamlessly integrated in that district”

At the current time the community is 85% office/commercial, although 2,700 new residents are planned.

Airight and property ownership clarification:

“Certain air rights over the South Boston Bypass Road, the Massport Haul Road and CSX railroad that abut the BCEC land have been recently acquired by the BRA. The site planning studies prepared in concert with the BRA illustrate a strategy for linking the BCEC campus into the 100 Acres development and creating opportunities for potential expansion. Expansion to the West would also require acquisition of portions of land currently owned by the Post Office (used for parking for the South Station facility) that are currently planned as part of the 100-acres development.”

Jim Rooney stated that the BCEC spent 9 million dollars to secure these rights. Because of Mass.dot ownership issues and haul road hazardous waste regulations they are unable to build across the Haul Road and will have limited use for the air rights.

Ongoing points of concern and dialog include the entire space between the west side of the BCEC and the community, specifically loading bays, proposed Massport plans, and lack of green space.

Impact on Fort Point:

The increase in the number of gate shows impact parking in Fort Point, especially on Summer Street. Day exhibitors don’t care if they get a parking ticket- it’s part the cost of doing business. We look forward to the opening of the Tea party ship, but it is also an investment of the BCEC and will impact parking as well, although bus drop off is planned for Dorchester Ave, which will be helpful.

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