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Design a Better Boston Are you disappointed with the state of Boston's current architecture/development? Think you have a better idea? Post it here.

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Old 11-29-2016, 09:29 PM   #1
tysmith95
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Suffolk Downs

Would it be possible for the city, and the owners of the land, to sell the Suffolk Downs land in small parcels to developers. By that I mean with small scale developers, ones who would only build a modern triple decker or two. Same with the Wonderland dog track. It seems like most new neighborhoods are built on super-blocks, it would be nice to see some small scale development for a change. It may blend with surrounding older neighborhoods better if homes are built this way.

Do any of the real estate experts on this forum know if this is feasible? I know it would be riskier for the state to build roads before selling off the smaller blocks.

Directly around the T stations the city could zone for developments higher than 3/4 stories, while zoning the rest of the neighborhood for modern triple deckers and brownstones.

Last edited by tysmith95; 11-29-2016 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 11-30-2016, 12:42 AM   #2
bakgwailo
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Re: Suffolk Downs

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Originally Posted by tysmith95 View Post
Would it be possible for the city, and the owners of the land, to sell the Suffolk Downs land in small parcels to developers. By that I mean with small scale developers, ones who would only build a modern triple decker or two. Same with the Wonderland dog track. It seems like most new neighborhoods are built on super-blocks, it would be nice to see some small scale development for a change. It may blend with surrounding older neighborhoods better if homes are built this way.

Do any of the real estate experts on this forum know if this is feasible? I know it would be riskier for the state to build roads before selling off the smaller blocks.

Directly around the T stations the city could zone for developments higher than 3/4 stories, while zoning the rest of the neighborhood for modern triple deckers and brownstones.
That would be amazing. Even just a good street grid would help prevent super blocks - but, I guess the question would be what would the current owners more money - one big (or a couple of big parcels) vs a bunch of smaller? I would think, at the very least, the later would be a much bigger task to do (and thus more time/money). The other thing would be how would the prevent people from buying multiple lots to build w/e they want? Good example of this would be Ashmont Hill - the original idea was row houses, but then people bought up multiple plots and started constructing their mansions. I would love it to happen and would be interested, too, on someone with a bit more knowledge to chime in.
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Old 11-30-2016, 01:38 AM   #3
tysmith95
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Re: Suffolk Downs

Just as a comparison, the Suffolk Downs site is 3x the size of Assembly Row. The potential for development here is huge.

As far as avoiding mansions, the city could zone to prevent that. Suburbs zone in an attempt to avoid apartment buildings, Boston could do the opposite and zone to promote density at this site. Also i'd be very happy if the city dropped parking minimums for this site. It's right next to two blue line stops so there is no need for parking at every unit especially if walk-able neighborhood amenities are built.
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Old 11-30-2016, 07:08 PM   #4
bakgwailo
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Re: Suffolk Downs

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Originally Posted by tysmith95 View Post
Just as a comparison, the Suffolk Downs site is 3x the size of Assembly Row. The potential for development here is huge.

As far as avoiding mansions, the city could zone to prevent that. Suburbs zone in an attempt to avoid apartment buildings, Boston could do the opposite and zone to promote density at this site. Also i'd be very happy if the city dropped parking minimums for this site. It's right next to two blue line stops so there is no need for parking at every unit especially if walk-able neighborhood amenities are built.
I guess the mansion part was more the historical reference - today I would think it would be one developer (perhaps through various shell companies if need be) to buy up the block for one big building. I also guess it depends - I wouldn't be adverse to 1-3 family row houses, but I think its going to get complicated to get any developer to bite at that level, and to get more density it would be only developers who would do it (vs an individual buying the land and constructing their own row house).
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Old 11-30-2016, 08:46 PM   #5
tangent
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Re: Suffolk Downs

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I guess the mansion part was more the historical reference - today I would think it would be one developer (perhaps through various shell companies if need be) to buy up the block for one big building. I also guess it depends - I wouldn't be adverse to 1-3 family row houses, but I think its going to get complicated to get any developer to bite at that level, and to get more density it would be only developers who would do it (vs an individual buying the land and constructing their own row house).
It is certainly worth some level of a planning exercise for the owners to roughly work out the math on that. There are more developers/investers (or just construction loans) that can finance hundreds of thousands of dollars or low millions, even tens of millions versus financing hundreds of millions or billions in larger projects. And with FAA height restrictions (and noise) we aren't talking about anything over 150' being possible anyway.


I could see the owners being able to use a phased approach with the returns from a smaller scale phase 1 being used to bootstrap finance the following phases at greater density. And the more they reinvest at each phase, the greater the overall profit.
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Old 11-30-2016, 08:58 PM   #6
stefalarchitect
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Re: Suffolk Downs

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Originally Posted by tysmith95 View Post
Would it be possible for the city, and the owners of the land, to sell the Suffolk Downs land in small parcels to developers. By that I mean with small scale developers, ones who would only build a modern triple decker or two. Same with the Wonderland dog track. It seems like most new neighborhoods are built on super-blocks, it would be nice to see some small scale development for a change. It may blend with surrounding older neighborhoods better if homes are built this way.
Sounds like a solid plan.
Since you brought up Suffolk Downs, I did a little searching around and stumbled upon this BSA webpage with 3 scenarios (the presentation is pretty good). I looked around here to see if it has been posted before but found nothing. I'm personally a fan of the first concept ("Bridging Neighborhoods"), and your plan of having smaller parcels could easily be worked into it.
Concept Renderings:


^I like how they also incorporated what looks to be a soccer stadium (cough, cough, Revs)

Interesting to note: their plan also looks very similar to what DaveM made in another Suffolk Downs redevelopment thread...
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Old 11-30-2016, 10:25 PM   #7
Beton Brut
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Re: Suffolk Downs

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Originally Posted by stefalarchitect View Post
...I did a little searching around and stumbled upon this BSA webpage with 3 scenarios (the presentation is pretty good). I looked around here to see if it has been posted before but found nothing.
I posted the event were there presentations were initially made last March. It was an interesting evening.
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