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Old 03-29-2016, 06:38 PM   #21
BussesAin'tTrains
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Re: Whats left to build on?

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Plans to further push industry out of the metropolitan area a bit concerning. Maybe Boston and the metropolitan area can focus our economy on things that don't require industry. And less labor intensive industry can just relocate to areas with lower land values. But to eliminate industrial areas means fewer jobs and less diversity in the local economy. I don't think we should dismantle our industrial infrastructure with too much haste.
This has always been a concern of mine as well. Light industrial is important to the smooth functioning of our service economy. If we snap up all of it for housing development, it moves farther out from the city and potentially disrupts supply chains. Not a foregone conclusion, but something worth thinking about.
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Old 03-30-2016, 12:16 AM   #22
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Re: Whats left to build on?

I agree on keeping at least some industry in place, but surely there's some modern precedent out there for light industrial going vertical so we can still increase housing and office density?
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Old 03-30-2016, 01:24 AM   #23
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Re: Whats left to build on?

A lot of light industry is tough to build vertically. If you need loading docks, those pretty much have to be level with your main floor. Building floors reinforced for machinery (weight+vibration) can be expensive, never mind that you have to get it up there in the first place. Ventilation systems have to pull air out more floors. Et cetera. That's not to say it's impossible, but it's not easy to have a machine shop or a warehouse be more than 2-3 floors. Look at all the old mill and industry buildings around - they pretty much top out at 3 floors for smaller buildings and 5 floors for the larger mills.
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Old 03-30-2016, 08:18 AM   #24
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Re: Whats left to build on?

I agree light industry is important but how important is it to have it just a mile or two from downtown. Many cities seem to do just fine with it positioned a little further out so as long as new light industrial space can be developed on the edge of the central urban areas I don't see an issue.
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Old 03-30-2016, 08:36 AM   #25
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Re: Whats left to build on?

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Originally Posted by citylover94 View Post
I agree light industry is important but how important is it to have it just a mile or two from downtown. Many cities seem to do just fine with it positioned a little further out so as long as new light industrial space can be developed on the edge of the central urban areas I don't see an issue.
Agree. There are blighted cities like Lawrence, New Bedford, or Fall River that would benefit immensely from having some of the businesses that inhabit the inner belt. Most of the workforce for these industries is probably moving out there anyway considering the housing affordability issues that places like Somerville face.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:59 AM   #26
BussesAin'tTrains
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Re: Whats left to build on?

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Originally Posted by citylover94 View Post
I agree light industry is important but how important is it to have it just a mile or two from downtown. Many cities seem to do just fine with it positioned a little further out so as long as new light industrial space can be developed on the edge of the central urban areas I don't see an issue.
I'm not suggesting that they have to be close to the central city, but I am suggesting that there should be a clear plan in place to relocate these essential businesses. Where in the suburbs are they going to move to? Are there zoned areas that would allow suburbs to absorb that sort of light industrial capacity? Do they have easy access to downtown for the sort of distribution patterns that would be needed to efficiently deliver products? Just questions that need to be considered and answered before we bring in the bulldozers and cranes.
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Old 03-30-2016, 03:36 PM   #27
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Re: Whats left to build on?

Distribution patterns are what attract light industry. Saying it has to be out-of-sight/out-of-mind, X miles from the CBD, or dumped in some blighted place that used to have heavy industry misses the point in one-dimensionally reductionist ways. It's about chasing the free market sweet spot that attracts small-scale industry to a region where the large-scale industry exited decades ago and took with it most of the industrial supply chain that the little guys used to feast off of. So what most incentivizes the little guys to set up shop? Proximity to major shipping lanes is probably the biggest single factor today.


Trucking is more price-sensitive than it used to be. Fuel's perennially volatile, labor costs are high, permitting for truck facilities is a lot tighter, and the trucking industry's newfound worship of the GPS gods makes their rates get more unattractive with every deviation from a high-volume trucking corridor. Mega-mergers with the shippers eliminated a lot of price competition. NAFTA decimated local supply chains, including on the transpo side with this huge skew towards hyper-concentrated volume.

This is what the Massport-built Southie and Eastie haul roads exist for. It's why Brickbottom retains some core light industry and shipping presence and why there's worries from people who know industry about the extreme pressure being put on to push out the industry for more generic mixed-use. It's why the Winchester-Wilmington stretch of I-93 has such a sudden density burst of warehouses breaking up an otherwise NIMBY-filled residential monolith north of town. It's why downtown Worcester and the Ayer-Devens stretch where all the outer radial highways converge got such a fat moneybomb of intermodal rail facilities investment. It's why Holyoke bucks the NIMBY trend by being *hyper* pro-industry and renovating its derelict heavy-industry warehouses for light industry right in the heart of the CBD where the highway access is good and the maze of rail spurs around the canals were never torn out like they were in Providence and Lowell. These are the places where those bulk shipping rates hit their sweetest spot on access and density for attracting a supply chain sustainable for small and midsize light industry. The sites funnel onto hyper-concentrated shipping lanes, and the development value of the siting reaps the benefits from that. These are places that are making hay with right-sized industrial growth in 21st century post-industrial New England while the rest of the region continues making icky-poo faces.

----- ----- ----- -----

Re: the mistakes of not getting it. . .

A lot of suburbs zoned industrial parks in the late-60's through mid-80's as a sort of industrial urban renewal tactic. Relocate the local industries that clustered in old downtown buildings onto some flat slab of ex-farmland on a bunch of cul de sacs with a main access road, plant some trees around the whole area as a sort of de facto white picket fence around a bunch of cookie-cutter brown boxes, have the local economic development board screen the potential tenants so the place gets populated with "clean", "tech-y", and--above-all--QUIET companies that the neighbors never ever noticed.


That's playing keep-away. It was this sort of autoimmune reaction from the collapse of downtown heavy industry and the need to roll up sleeves and erase the blight left behind in the CBD's. And it worked pretty well for about 20-25 years when shipping was at its dirt-ass cheapest. Every suburban town has got one of these 70's-prefab industrial parks. They were cheap, easy, and remote enough to keep the NIMBY's quiet.

What's come of them now? Shipping stopped being cheap. For all the reasons listed above, and because of massive shipping industry consolidation. And now you have a lot of these brown boxes on an out-of-the-way cul de sac with near-permanent "For Lease" signs on them. The tenants are perpetually transient, or packed three to a building but barely making use of the space. The metal fabrication plant is now an indoor paintball range. Every big warehouse is now a self-storage facility. Some charter school sets up shop in one of them and turns the main warehouse bay into an open floorplan mega-classroom. The town has to print tax breaks to try to get anyone to occupy these buildings that are contributing nearly zero to the tax base. There's always that one huge, huge factory that relocated some anchor-tenant industry from the CBD in some modern-by-1967-standards facility with great fanfare...that closed anyway when the tenant's parent company downsized, and is now the subject of neverending redevelopment meetings that never quite take off. Prospective tenants the town economic dev. board tries to attract keep reacting coolly to the sprawl, the large and aging boxes that are developing leaky roofs because of neglect by the downsizing or transient prior tenants, the massive parking lots their largely automated operations would barely fill and which they have to plow. It requires bigger and bigger tax breaks to unload the facilities. Abutting residential subdivisions, which gobbled up all the adjacent farmland that originally isolated these industrial parks, are much more vocal about truck traffic and discourage prospective tenants with their hostility.

And it's all because the placement of these parks was predicated on putting perceived-yucky things where nobody in town could see them, at a time when land and transportation were bottom-barrel cheap. The industrial version of the same kinds of short-sighted urban renewal sins that gutted so many CBD's and generationally fucked up residential density in so many New England cities and towns. Bad planning for the wrong reasons gave them the same sort of short shelf life and vexing problem to try to address for breathing new life into those former mistakes.

---- ---- ---- ----

Sad case study:

My hometown of Bristol, CT built like four super-sprawling such parks between the mid-60's and mid-80's on a bunch of farmland and ex- sand pits as a cheap high to offset the collapse of downtown. The ex-GM ball bearing plant that was the city's biggest employer was moved from its 19th century factory on Main St. to the top of a steep hill in the quietest ex-agricultural corner of town, with an absurdly wide street grid reaching all directions and access road plowed down the mountain to reach the nearest exit from the CT 72 expressway extension the city spent 40 years in vain trying to build. It had a 3-mile long rail branchline built next to the access road--the very last all-new construction rail line ever built in New England--that was supposed to prop up the rapidly imploding New Haven RR with a lucrative daily job. The plant only operated at full capacity for 20 years before GM started the neverending waves of layoffs, and was closed in under 30. It's been one-third occupied by a small Firestone warehouse that uses the rail spur about once a week, and an ever-changing cast of transient tenants. The rest of it is spookily abandoned.

The city offset the accelerating death plunge of that barely paid-for factory by going on a building binge throwing up brown boxes on cul de sacs in the opposite corner of town on CT 229, where the couple-mile drive to I-84 could prop them up after the Route 72 expressway's cancellation. One of those parks got built late-80's right behind my house in the woods I used to play in. Another got built on the former landfill next to ESPN and Lake Compounce amusement park. They got Otis elevator to build its huge test tower (that out-of-place white skyscraper you see miles in the distance on I-84 West in Plainville), a trash-to-energy plant, and had some temporary success getting some high-tech metal factories to cluster there around a common supply chain (you know...the ones who hang those "ISO 9001 certified" banners on their front door like a badge of honor). Otis and the trash plant are still there as anchor tenants, but most of the little precision metal places barely got a dozen years before they started NAFTA'ing their asses out of town. Or, in the case of the most successful such plant (Yarde Metals), finding the isolation and godawful traffic on Route 229 a disincentive for hiring qualified employees and moving one town over to a much denser area on the main shopping drag right next to I-84 and more attractive nearby residential. They've grown handsomely there because they're attracting much better talent than they could get on the cul de sac in the ex- sand pit.

Thankfully the giant ESPN borg just bought up damn near all the vacant brown boxes for support staff, giant-ass data centers, and whatnot. With tax breaks that bring the city next-to-nothing, but saved them the indignity of getting absolutely nothing from their tax base. Today's brown-box tenants? Charter school, couple day care centers schlepping off the ESPN overflow, city adult ed. annex (my dad took a nice welding class there this spring!), indoor shooting range, indoor trampoline and rock-climbing funtime place, a couple car chop shops that took residence in absurdly oversize buildings, and a couple like-minded industrial spring factories surviving from the original 80's building boom who stuck it out huddled together on the same street to keep their supply chain footprint viably large.

The city still doesn't get it. They clear-cut a nice pine forest in the mid-aughts to build another industrial access road zoned with 10 parcels. After a decade there's exactly 2 of the smallest parcels filled, and still a bunch of "Build to Suit!" signs lining the empty road. This weekend when I was visiting home I saw a couple Drivers Ed students practicing on the access road; that's about all the use it's getting.

---- ---- ---- ----

^That's^ a prime example of doing it wrong. But it's still very pervasive in New England as the NIMBY-first attitude towards light industry as some shameful secret you have to hide at all cost. Only a handful of cities have really gotten with the program and embraced the density + access advantages for all they're worth. Worcester being a biggie with its progressive attitude towards the intermodal rail yards at ground-zero downtown and the very innovative--and win-win for both the public and private partners--deal they cut with CSX for per-truck fees going straight into the city's coffers for neighborhood improvements. Holyoke is another one that's gone even louder-and-prouder about being open for industrial business in its CBD. They're going retro with the old downtown heavy-industry factories with renovations for high-tech light industry instead of commercial and condo conversions like everyone else. Springfield kinda-sorta too with that huge railcar manufacturing plant they landed. Some of their warming-up is peer pressure from nearby Holyoke starting to make hay. And Massport, for all its faults, fits, and starts is sticking to its script with its port facilities in Seaport, Southie, Charlestown, and Eastie resisting temptation to cough up places like Marine Terminal and its front-door access to the Haul Road so the BRA can cannibalize with more condos and tourist attractions.

But there's very few places where the NIMBY's don't habitually impede everything, and very few places where the local governments--who have so much power in this state--even understand the implications of their impulsive opposition. A less-diversified economy is a more vulnerable economy. This may no longer be a region that can support equal-proportion industry, but it's not good to imbalance the scales so severely that it's simply absent. Much less intentionally driven-out. We've already seen those ill effects with the collapse of these suburban keep-away industrial parks. What happens when all the big-box commercial sprawl they built to replace the industry starts getting super-volatile and never calms back down? They're going to have big regrets about those short-sighted decisions. But they won't understand one lick about what was short-sighted about it, how to adjust, and what they can do to rectify it right-sized for today's market. It'll lead to a lot of imbalance in economic stability as the municipalities that "get it" have a more stably diversified slate that can bend but not break during periods of economic instability. While the ones that went one-dimensional on sprawl-commercial and sprawl-residential to the exclusion of all else are going to have a much tougher time keeping their economies in equilibrium during instability.

Boston isn't immune to this either. The innovation and biotech economy is unprojectable at 25+ year levels, so you can't project the Seaport or Kendall Square being completely invulnerable to future shocks. They're extremely robust, but not impervious to shock when a handful of recently hot fields dominate high percentage of the real estate. While those areas are most appropriate for those tasks and certainly have no dev-related need to be intermixed with other types of land zoning, they would be less vulnerable to an unprojectable economic downtown if the regional economy is shored up elsewhere with an appropriately diverse portfolio. If the Innovation District hits rough waters for several years in the 2040's because of a paradigm shift we can't predict today, the city has a lot more tools at its disposal to troubleshoot on the fly and cope if Marine Terminal, Conley Terminal, and the Haul Road users in the same neighborhood aren't the same kind of vulnerable. It spreads the risk; spreading the risk with diversification is how a city firewalls itself against the economically unprojectable.

You could say similar about the one-sidedness of upscale housing starts to the exclusion of most types of affordable housing starts in the city (certainly a more immediate concern for the workforce). We're FAR from any sort of destabilizing tipping point, but one-sidedness is not good for spreading the risk around unprojectable changes. Now's the time for our planning institutions to get their heads out of their asses and start paying lots more attention to how diversified their economic portfolio is. They can steer it to a bedrock-stable place by picking the right spots and ID'ing what % share the "unsexy" component should ideally take as a maximally efficient share. Our planning institutions have a LOT to learn about that. It's a big blind spot.
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Old 03-30-2016, 04:05 PM   #28
TheRifleman
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Re: Whats left to build on?

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Originally Posted by F-Line to Dudley View Post

Boston isn't immune to this either. The innovation and biotech economy is unprojectable at 25+ year levels, so you can't project the Seaport or Kendall Square being completely invulnerable to future shocks. They're extremely robust, but not impervious to shock when a handful of recently hot fields dominate high percentage of the real estate. While those areas are most appropriate for those tasks and certainly have no dev-related need to be intermixed with other types of land zoning, they would be less vulnerable to an unprojectable economic downtown if the regional economy is shored up elsewhere with an appropriately diverse portfolio. If the Innovation District hits rough waters for several years in the 2040's because of a paradigm shift we can't predict today, the city has a lot more tools at its disposal to troubleshoot on the fly and cope if Marine Terminal, Conley Terminal, and the Haul Road users in the same neighborhood aren't the same kind of vulnerable. It spreads the risk; spreading the risk with diversification is how a city firewalls itself against the economically unprojectable.
I could see that happening to the Seaport in 25-30 Years. It will end up like Cambridge Mass back in the late 70's after all the shoe factories closed up again when the Biotech sector runs its course.
Remember Technologies will become cheaper and more efficient overtime which will put a lot of corporations out of business.

Every cycle runs it's course.

Great post
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Old 03-30-2016, 07:01 PM   #29
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Re: Whats left to build on?

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I could see that happening to the Seaport in 25-30 Years. It will end up like Cambridge Mass back in the late 70's after all the shoe factories closed up again when the Biotech sector runs its course.
Remember Technologies will become cheaper and more efficient overtime which will put a lot of corporations out of business.

Every cycle runs it's course.

Great post
That's where having a robust and diversified supply chain really helps. At the top levels of the state MassDOT's really been on-the-ball about getting us in control of our own destiny with shipping costs.

At the top of the heap you've got intermodal containers...come in by rail or ship, container gets lifted onto truck. It's majority rail here because our seaports are small and NY/NJ, Halifax, Baltimore, and Norfolk so dominate the East Coast...but diversity is important with supply chains so Massport's got those plans to dredge the Harbor for PANMAX ships and do redevelopment (hopefully well cost-controlled) at the local ports.

With intermodal and today's trucking rates, the ideal range for a terminal is what you can ship round-trip in one work shift. It's called "drayage" distance, and league-average for the road network in the Northeast is 200 miles round-trip (i.e. 100 mile radius to the customer, then trip back to home base). Within that drayage range trucks are hands-down the most cost-effective shipping method, and that's why you don't see too many rail customer sidings left in a small state like MA except for the ones who do shipping of goods ill-fitting for trucks (e.g. aggregates like crushed stone and sand, scrap metal and construction debris, racks of lumber for lumber yards, chemical tankers, etc.) or are just flat-out massive anchor customers. Beyond drayage range the trucking rates start getting inferior and other modes like rail start becoming superior, except for a minority of bulk goods that are unusually time-sensitive and need the flexibility of at-will "GO NOW!" truck schedules. At 500 miles, where cost for mandatory rest periods for the drivers becomes a big factor, it starts getting stupid to waste money on trucks except for a shrinking niche of time-sensitive stuff. Rail becomes extremely cheap, and air freight starts eating into the time-sensitive niche. Cross-country trucking is in fast decline. It'll always be a significant minority, but it's undergoing a very big market correction shaped by shifting cost-benefit.

It used to be that all drayage into New England came out of NY/NJ or Albany, where the big rail yards are. Those trucks would pound the shit out of the Pike in the Berkshires and I-95 up through Rhode Island all hours of the day with out-of-state trucks and truck drivers. It left New England in a prone position to economic shocks affecting shipping prices given the singular dependency we had on New York state. The smartest thing MassDOT has done in the last 20 years was swing that humongous $100M CSX deal for Beacon Park, the relocation to Worcester, the double-stack clearance project on the B&A mainline so they could stack 2 shipping cubes on top of each other, and the buy-up of CSX assets inside of Worcester. That plunked a huge-volume intermodal terminal right in downtown Worcester by all the radial highways and put all of New England as far north as Greater Portland into drayage range from a home base in Central MA.

That got lots of all-day trucks off the highways and assigned to off-peak shifts that didn't fuck up traffic as bad, saving the state money. It got trucking companies to start relocating ops into Massachusetts, paying MA taxes and RMV fees. They hired Massachusetts workers at MA income tax. It perpetuated more trucking companies unrelated to intermodal to move into the region to glom off the gravity well created by this more robust supply chain. It got us more substantially into transporting new automobiles by train, with huuuge state-of-the-art autorack terminals going up in East Brookfield and Ayer and Rhode Island spending millions so they could unload foreign cars from ships at Quonset Point and ship them by rail up to the big distribution points in Central MA. Now we've got more trucking companies with fleets of autoracks situated around those terminals, delivering cars to your local dealership, and giving the dealers more flex to price-war each other because their shipping costs are attractively low.

Most importantly of all, it got CSX's arch-rival Norfolk Southern hot to buy its way into New England. They entered into a 50/50 ownership share with Pan Am for the Patriot Corridor Albany-to-Ayer to set up a competing intermodal facility in Ayer. Now instead of having one huge multi-billion railroad conglomerate (CSX) that was poorly motivated for the longest time to invest here, you've got two billion-dollar conglomerates in an arms race providing direct price competition. And another trucking gravity well deepening up the other end of I-190 solidifying that supply chain.

This is all in the early stages of paying dividends, but it's starting to click in a big way. It gives Massachusetts not only some very robust price stability and competition on shipping rates by having drayage originate here instead of New York, but we now sort of wag the dog for all of New England because of the multi-state drayage range out of Worcester and Ayer. As well as a leg to stand on for trying to get *modest* bits of intermodal growth by boat. At least enough to rationalize the cost of dredging for PANMAX ships and take a calculated risk that it'll attract something net-positive.


---- ---- ---- ----

Now...that's the top of the heap. And it's already got big coattails. Next on the chain is transloading. Instead of taking an unopened container off one means of transport, plopping it on another, and going by region-wide drayage distance from a big integrated terminal...transloading is when an independent intermediary offloads the goods from the container or vehicle and re-loads it onto a new container/vehicle. In most cases that middleman is a warehouse of some sort that handles all the logistics. With a rail transload they get a load of boxcars dropped off, unload them, classify them, and re-load on trucks. Or, occasionally, it's a rail customer that doesn't have a siding of their own and drives their own trucks to the rail yard or somebody else's siding to unload their goods. Most often, transloading is all-truck: inbound truck --> classification or storage at warehouse --> outbound truck.

Transloads tend to occupy the midrange and middle-small range on the scale. Or specialize in something (like a cold storage warehouse for perishables) rather than being generalists like the intermodal terminals that only care about moving the container, not what's inside it. Transloaders tend to ship shorter distance; you'll find a lot more transload warehouses ringing Route 128 while the intermodal biggies are out in 495-land. And they tend to cluster together (that supply chain gravity well exerting its influence!), which is why the area around Anderson RTC commuter rail station is a shitload of warehouses taking advantage of the easy access to 93 and 128.

The coattails trickle down. Bring an influx of trucking supply chain and cost control into the state with the huge intermodal terminals, and it gets much easier for the transloads and warehouses to glom off it and make a living. Very soon after Norfolk Southern bought its way into the state Tighe, a big warehouse chain, opened up a new location on the Lowell Line in Winchester near Montvale Ave. and started taking healthy number of nightly boxcars that get loaded onto trucks. A direct-competing warehouse is trying to build a few miles up in Woburn right now to go after similar market niche.

The transload middlemen then end up encouraging more vertically integrated warehouses and trucking operations to set up shop. Amazon's building a 1 million sq. ft. warehouse in Fall River. Amazon is as brutally cost-efficient as it gets, and despite relatively high tax rates and employee salaries here vs. elsewhere the trending with those deepening gravity wells on cost control looks so good long-term that they went for it. Probably will see more big warehouses following Amazon's lead into the state.

---- ---- ---- ----

Now you're at the level of cultivating individual businesses. Picking sites where they can cluster, because clustering creates those industry-specific supply chain gravity wells just like with the shippers create the gravity wells of shipping options. One of the reasons my hometown's last outpost of thriving light industry is the cluster of spring-makers who survived their industrial park's wipeout is because they can pool their shippers for some goods. Small shops can afford to set up knowing they won't be plowed under by shipping price shocks, because the state has the upper hand on that and is steering the inertia towards stability and greater price competition. The shops that only need to ship a couple small trucks of widgets at a time don't get punished by their meager volumes because the supply chain is broad enough to offer consistently good rates over a very wide spread of volumes.

These shops then start to create a gravity well for skilled technical labor. The local community-technical college starts offering more trade courses and certifications, because hiring young people with an associate's degree and a technical certification who are going to stick with their chosen craft and chosen employer for the long haul is money in the bank. (Also one of the few non-mistakes my hometown made when the office parks shat the bed...the adult ed. center and city technical high school suddenly got a lot better-funded and started sending a lot more graduates to those surviving spring factories). Greater Boston definitely needs that kind of trades gravity well. All those MIT geniuses in Kendall and the Innovation District who we're expecting to invent Jetsons Shit and miracle drugs are going to need somebody to oversee the fabrication machine, do quality assurance, schlep as lab grunts. It can't all be non-sentient robots, MBA's, and engineers who get their hands dirty in AutoCAD instead of axle grease making that Innovation economy work. Everybody's predicting a big swing-back in post-secondary enrollments back into the trades after 25 years of swinging too far towards university degrees. Where do you think supply and demand intersect for that talent? Near a city with lots of resources, with lots of complementary supply chain gravity wells supporting both the businesses and the talent, where the trade jobs and trade training are accessible.

Not in one of those keep-away 70's sprawl-tastic suburban industrial parks that are all rapidly going tits-up. Someplace with appropriate density and access to the supply chain. If not in immediate spitting distance of the CBD, then at least very well-accessible to all the resources of the urban environment, and offering places where the trades people behind the supply chain can put down roots. That is most definitely not happening caged up up in some containment cul de sac like a shameful secret, under constant hostility from local-yokel NIMBY's or planning boards forever lusting to evict the businesses for more condos. This is what our planning institutions have to wrap brain around. The trending very strongly suggests that economic diversity, stability, and sustainability means riding these supply chain gravity wells to the hilt. It means cultivating the trickle-down effects from it so it makes the state attractive for business even for the smallest shops. It means riding the coming trades wave so we keep our talent supremacy robust as the education demographics in this country start changing a lot. And it means connecting the dots that all these things feed into each other.


It's a big fuckin' deal. Land use is sort of at the bottom of the trickle-down pile, but it needs to serve those gravity wells described above that help keep the economy diverse and self-correcting. Are our planning institutions tasked with determining land use up to that? (Short answer: Not really. Top-level the state has comparably above-average foresight. Not really saying a whole lot when you look at our bumbling neighbors, but they're sticking to the script faithfully and reaping some benefits. Boston/BRA, Somerville, Cambridge, etc. in the urban core? They have an awful lot to learn about balance and staying out of their own way before they're trustworthy on this. But 80% of our sprawls-ville 'burbs and bedroom communities are abso-fuckin'-lutely hopeless provincial wastelands of fear and hostility. They're going to pay a price in some future economic downtown for their short-sightedness.)
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Old 03-30-2016, 07:23 PM   #30
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Re: Whats left to build on?

TBH when I mentioned moving light industry out of the city I was thinking of moving it to areas like the office/warehouse parks around Anderson RTC and similar areas in other parts of the metro. Although some would of course need to stay closer I just would like it if we could find a better way to integrate them into an urban environment.
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Old 03-30-2016, 07:54 PM   #31
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Re: Whats left to build on?

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TBH when I mentioned moving light industry out of the city I was thinking of moving it to areas like the office/warehouse parks around Anderson RTC and similar areas in other parts of the metro. Although some would of course need to stay closer I just would like it if we could find a better way to integrate them into an urban environment.
Try getting Winchester-Woburn-Wilmington to buy into that, though. Winchester Board of Selectmen lit piles of money on fire filing frivolous legal claims to stop Tighe Warehouse from setting up shop. Then when they did arrive...trying to harass them out of town with quiet hours ordinance after ordinance that got spiked as illegal, BS complaints, meeting after meeting. And lots of "Nuh-uh! We want a do-over!" nuisance appeals after their legal arguments had been completely, utterly eviscerated. They finally gave up the Operation Chaos only about a year or two ago, after Tighe had already been humming along for like 4 years. They're the largest late-shift employer in the town. It doesn't matter. They would rather spend a hundred grand on hopeless legal poo-flinging they know is hopeless than accept it.


Woburn and Wilmington are tag-teaming right now for much the same on that competing New England Transload facility a couple clicks north of Anderson straddling their town lines. It's going next to a cement factory and the former town dump a half-mile from the nearest residences. The truck route backtracks past nothing but a bunch of office buildings onto the I-93 onramp by the train station. It's potentially a lot of jobs. They don't care. The Surface Transportation Board has already been carpet-bombed with filings from the towns and Legislators trying block the rail spur (dumb dumb dumb...the STB never rules against interstate commerce). They're challenging every environmental permit...because God forbid the landfill, dirty old cement factory, demolished chemical plant, and auto junkyard get contaminated by a few parked tractor-trailers.

So far they haven't gone completely through-the-looking-glass stupid like Winchester did, but it's equally hopeless. Town with very little wholly native employment highly sought-after by lucrative shippers who want to bring jobs to town, won't generate much local traffic because sites are right next to highway on access road specifically built to keep traffic away from town streets. Town response:




This will never change in these places. It's amazing that the Anderson area is so flush with warehouses with more clamoring to get in...in spite of all the harassment they get. It speaks to just how lucrative that location by 93/128 and the access roads is. And yet, you still get the locals--and occasionally the state--talking about bulldozing some of those warehouses to build some sort of TOD and strip-mall narnia there. Even though Mishawum right down the street was one big belly-flop when they did exactly that. Anything to change the subject from land use reality to fantasy. Reality is the land is too valuable for the warehouses to sell, and nobody has the stomach to offer them a fair price and walk the talk. The warehouses shrug and safely ignore all the harassment. Fantasy is that if the town scowls hard enough everything will go away. Except for the tax revenue; that magically stays somehow.


There are entirely too many 'burbs exactly like this. And several nihilist urban areas too.

Last edited by F-Line to Dudley; 03-30-2016 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 03-30-2016, 08:21 PM   #32
citylover94
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Re: Whats left to build on?

That is the reaction I would expect it was more of a hypothetical that would make sense as well as the 95/93 and 93/3 would probably be good locations as well. I read an interesting analysis of why New England is so lukewarm on commercial and industrial development compared to the Midwest once on a blog and it was very interesting to see why people react differently even if it isn't rational.
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Old 03-30-2016, 08:47 PM   #33
BussesAin'tTrains
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Re: Whats left to build on?

Quote:
Originally Posted by citylover94 View Post
That is the reaction I would expect it was more of a hypothetical that would make sense as well as the 95/93 and 93/3 would probably be good locations as well. I read an interesting analysis of why New England is so lukewarm on commercial and industrial development compared to the Midwest once on a blog and it was very interesting to see why people react differently even if it isn't rational.
I think part of it is yet another consequence of our balkanized municipalities. Hyper-local governance has its virtues, but damn if it doesn't simultaneously create intense insularity, provincialism, spite, and inefficiency. Regional planning in this state is nigh impossible.

Last edited by BussesAin'tTrains; 03-31-2016 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 03-31-2016, 12:24 AM   #34
citylover94
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Re: Whats left to build on?

The person on that blog included town identification versus a more generalized regional identity as well as property value taxes being the main source of income instead of commercial taxes as a factor as well.
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Old 03-31-2016, 01:22 PM   #35
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Re: Whats left to build on?

It'd be interesting to see tall developments in lower Allston that stretches down the riverfront on Cambridge, past MIT, to Northpoint, but far enough away from the river so that we have a CHANCE with the NIMBYs. I think most of the tall developments would fit well in Kendall Sq, and then the skyline would decrease in height the further from Kendall you go.

Cambridge is in the prime location for tall developments, and with major transit projects planned (West Station and the Urban Ring, GLE), it could work out very well. There'd obviously be some major hurdles, but IMO I think it'd be worth it. It'd be a one-of-a-kind city, with two world class Ivy universities, countless tech and biomedical/pharma firms, and a possibly stunning skyline.
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Old 03-31-2016, 01:23 PM   #36
F-Line to Dudley
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Re: Whats left to build on?

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The person on that blog included town identification versus a more generalized regional identity as well as property value taxes being the main source of income instead of commercial taxes as a factor as well.
Yep. For that reason it's good that Massport and not the city are in control of all the undeveloped port areas near the CBD with the right kind of transportation access for the shipping economy. Those are exactly the sites that exert the price-stabilizing leverage over movement of goods, which in turn stabilizes the prospects for attracting the right-fitting proportions of light industry inside 128. They have to work with the BRA all the same, but the state having the upper hand means there's no instant-gratification commercial/residential filling up the space on pressure from local political heavies and squandering broader 50-year considerations. Like I said, if the innovation economy hits unprojectable turbulence in another 2 decades we'll thank our lucky stars for the investments made over the past 15 years in bolstering the state's shipping economy. It's a natural economic stabilizer.


As for intra-city sites not controlled by Massport, you're talking Readville as #1 with a bullet. Though it's currently made useless by the DCR truck ban on Neponset Valley Pkwy. and punitive municipal time-of-day limitations in Dedham on Sprague St. trucks. Thank Councillor Menino for strong-arming the MDC in 1987 to seal off the easiest access, and Mayor Menino for antagonizing the Stop & Shop warehouse out of town. Can't get anything going there the way vehicular access is choked off, but all it takes is one state decision lifting the DCR ban and the BRA backing off its loopy plans for "tech lofts" (whatever the fuck that means...and believe me, they have no idea what that means) and letting some experts advise them to turn that underutilized slab into an economic engine. Think the southside's version of those Winchester-Woburn transload warehouses setting up on the S&S property, leveraging the nearly-empty CSX yard, and slipping inocuously out to 128 for deliveries. Including around-the-horn to 93 and the designated truck routes near the CBD.

Hyde Park actually kinda misses the industry that used to cluster around Readville and lower Hyde Park Ave. A lot of longtime Wolcott Sq. residents used to have jobs they could walk to there. The hostility that drove those companies out had machine politics as its origin much more than citizen opposition. All it takes is the BRA pulling its head out of its ass to give that neighborhood something major it can sink its teeth into. Hell, and if the half-dozen houses the trucks would have to pass becomes an issue...just work out a per-truck fee with the warehouse like Worcester did with the intermodal yard and have the fine print say the proceeds get pumped right back into the neighborhood. That makes for a great carrot-and-stick to turn opposition into support. There may even be possibilities here if the state starts transitioning to more in the way of vehicle usage tax scales (VMT, truck axle counts...that whole universe). Use the neighborhood-funneled proceeds from those kinds of official Memoranda of Understanding agreements to fund a technical charter high school on Hyde Park Ave. Re-establish that neighborhood's historical identity as a source of trades talent. Then maybe the BRA's boutique "tech lofts" whatever might have some leg to stand on.


Another area to consider would be Newmarket, if that neighborhood had some sort of overarching plan. Right now you've got the South Bay shopping center's ass-tastic land use, cutesy mixed use micro-communities being planned, and the poorly organized warehouses and food distro places. The land use is a complete mess. The industrial tenants are poorly motivated to invest in better facilities because the city is hostile to their very existence, the shopping center--even as a somewhat needed car-centric thing next to an off-ramp--is way too sprawled-out and could fill exactly its same role with more density and better-organized parking. And there is a need to increase the residential/commercial here because it's one of the few underutilized districts so close to the CBD. Swinging it unilaterally in any one direction probably isn't a good thing. The 93 frontage roads do make it an ideal place for shipping and a little bit of light industry, and one of the only places in the city ideal for plunking a big honking Home Depot and mega-size Stop & Shop that people in the city need.

So how do you plan the land use here to accommodate true mixed use that doesn't skew to exclusionary upscale mixed use? Where do you cluster the light industry and shipping so it stays off the residential and retail streets. How do you maximize the efficiency in its designated area and encourage the industry to trust the city enough to drop the fight-or-flight response? How do you maximize the retail while keeping it walkable AND keeping that Home Depot necessarily car-able. Can you increase the light industrial density to clean out some other under-utilized crud parcels and relocate those functions here in more productive fashion (think Dot Ave. between Broadway and Andrew as crud that should flip mixed commercial/residential...but only if you had a more productive nearby landing spot for the few remaining light industrial businesses).

There are puzzle pieces to move around the board here to get everything in its right and mutually-serving proportions, but plan it stupid or with instant-gratification and it'll either squander resources or mesh like oil and water. While Readville has pretty duh-obvious 'unsexy' land uses with high-upside if the pols would accommodate, and the ports have the state influence going for them, Newmarket is a thinkpiece that requires some skill and imagination to hit the right notes.
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Old 03-31-2016, 01:36 PM   #37
odurandina
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Re: Whats left to build on?

just reposting my bitter end post...

I believe there's at least a couple of dozen spots for up to 380~400'

so, i agree to some extent,

but i want a "debunk this parcel" thread.

i see a possibility for a crown for Back Bay on the south side of Christian Science Center or Dalton Garage...

i see a few nuclear bomb sites for possible +180~195m in Govt Center,1,2,3 Center Plaza, State Service Center and the low section of the JFK bldg, then a couple on Huntington Ave like the Colonnade and Midtown Hotel. I'd include the Suffolk Courthouse but it's more likely a 450' replacement tower eventually gets done there....

i see a few parcels that could be ok for 150-180m in the Fenway and Boylston Street.

After that, nothing.
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Old 03-31-2016, 03:08 PM   #38
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Re: Whats left to build on?

Just copying this from the BB Garage Tower thread:

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Originally Posted by dshoost88 View Post
^^Not to veer further off topic, but I always thought about the untapped potential in Lower Allston to really develop into a new, dense downtown. It's
- Proximity to major universities
- Interstate access (and the redone I-90 Allston interchange will free up 100+ acres for redevelopment)
- Proposed West Station commuter rail hub
- Urban Ring***... if it ever happens. This area could benefit the greatest from it.
- Topographically advantageous waterfront (Charles River) in the event of necessary climate change adaptation and necessity to move development inland.


There is a Back Bay's High Spine worth of vacant and underutilized space here that could grow into 30 million to 50 million square feet of development one day.
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Old 03-31-2016, 05:57 PM   #39
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Re: Whats left to build on?

That's Harvard's fiefdom, they're the essential ingredient - no in the least because they own all the non-residential land west of N. Harvard.

And that's both good and bad, but more than anything it's "wait and see". Harvard's more-or-less done in Cambridge from an expansion standpoint; Allston is there play. They might be slow, methodical land-bankers, but all roads lead to LA so-to-speak for Harvard. The northern half is covered in the current IMP and includes the "Allston North" parcel obtained by the Barn from CSX. I'd check the BRA docs to get a grip on what the Harvard braintrust is looking at for the area ringing the bulge in the River. The "Allston South" parcels including West Station and the non-easement portions former Beacon Park Yards are still somewhat up-in-the-air. However, 30-50 mil sqft is not anyone's intention; Harvard's ongoing IMP tops out around 3 mil sqft, and the rudimentary spec work they've put in to the Allston South parcels is only estimating 4 mil sqft tops. So our baseline is 7-8 mil sqft for the westside of the LA.

If you wanted to get into double-digit million sq-footage, there's some things to consider first.

First: West Station. West Station is on the books, MassDOT leveraged Uni money (however painfully from BU) covering two-thirds of the build (I think there might still be some outstanding paperwork on BU's side), which according to most relevant planning docs is about $25 mil. It'll probably inch up, but I wouldn't expect it to be horribly out-of-line with the New Balance and Assembly projects, though it is more complex. I don't believe they've settled on a final design, but the official options on the table are two or three story headhouse with island platforms and grade-separated bike, bus, drop-off (no parking) loops if they go with the 3-story, and bit more muddled, but still eminently functional shared loops with the 2-story design. BU still appears to be clearly pissed about Harvard scooping up the only real undeveloped land, so that's something to watch out for. Getting BU to sign-over some construction money was like pulling teeth and BU holds all the cards for south-side access to West.

That's really the volatile issue as I see it, could be great, might be shit. Harvard is going to grid up their parcels, there's the as-of-yet undecided, but almost certain opportunity for a proper 66 lane to access the area via the grid. The north-side situation actually looks pretty good - hopefully the spaghetti-exits to Cambridge/Storrow/SFR can be rationalized and even-more-hopefully that comes with improvements in Allston-to-Central flows. Brighton, it should be noted, was once "Little Cambridge" and remained so for 177 years until 1807. And that history shows: N. Harvard is an nigh-on medieval-era path that was the only land connection between Cambridge and Boston from 1662 (when they build the first "Great Bridge") until 1786 (the Charlestown Bridge), the Rivers and Western street bridges (along with Western Ave and Cambridge St from N. Harvard to the River) were funded by a group of businessmen with interests in the then-tolled West Boston Bridge (nowadays the Longfellow) who were threatened by the construction of the Mill Dam Turnpike (nowadays Brighton/Comm Ave to Kenmore) should it divert Brighton and Watertown traffic away from Cambridge and their bridge. So the local road network, more so than any other neighborhood in Boston, is really centered on Cambridge. Downtown Boston obviously encroached and annexed, exerted increasing amounts of economic pull carried not in the least by the B&A and fed by new railroad villages around Faneuil, but the "bones" of the area are still angled towards Cambridge.

That's what Harvard can make use, but it could just as easily be a shit show. The Anderson isn't a wonderful intersection, and it's too far a walk from Harvard or Central Stations to tap into rapid transit. Bike, better bus infra can help, but nothing is assured. Nearby highway-access can help Harvard spread it's legs farther west, but again, this is deep-future and it's still going to lack the rapid transit that feeds Back Bay, downtown, and Kendall. And there isn't going to be much help from the BU-side of the station. Poor BU, all they've ever wanted was a nice, leafy, pleasant campus spared from urban traffic. And every time they got close.....a Storrow comes along an ruins their fun. Then Harvard buys BU's own fucking backyard. BU wants nothing to do with auto-traffic, they don't want those bridges that Davem did some excellent mock-ups of, they don't busses on their side, they don't want auto-access on their side, the most that we can expect from BU are cycle/pedestrian paths. If a spine is to be built, then we have to be very, very worried what happens when that spine exerts a pull on the surrounding areas. Even if it's directed more west and north, there'll still be increased traffic from the south that BU is going to channel right down Brighton Ave to Linden, which is already a shitshow today.

So a spine in Lower Allston has the benefit of close, historical connections to Cambridge which has been excellent transit connections and has been able to support a spine of it's own, easy highway access, but it really still requires some sort of high-capacity, frequent ring-service, and without BU's support it puts Union Square/Allston proper square in the middle of increased traffic flow if the build-out is substantial.
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Old 04-07-2016, 01:57 PM   #40
odurandina
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Re: Whats left to build on?

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Originally Posted by DZH22 View Post

On my walk yesterday, I noticed that this middle piece is awful, and a good future candidate for say, 2025....
eek that'll make at last 3000 sq shade over the Public Garden for 15 minutes in December.

Hey, you see the Coconut Grove lot down there.

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3456.../data=!3m1!1e3

Amazing how badly they whiffed on that one.






maybe on one of these?

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3446.../data=!3m1!1e3
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