The Boston Redevelopment Authority met on Monday for community members to comment on the Government Center Garage redevelopment, a multiphase plan to replace the existing concrete garage with condominiums, retail, office space and parking.
The East parcel of the 2.4 million square foot development will include a nine-story office building, a small boutique retail space, a hotel and a condominium building on Congress Street organized around a public plaza that will connect the Bulfinch Triangle and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, according to the Government Center Garage project plan.
Anna Hardman, professor of economics at Tufts University, said the new housing and retail space has the potential to benefit the area economically and environmentally.
“My guess is that developers perceive a great demand for residential units, which in general adds diversity to a commercial neighborhood,” she said. “Adding residential housing to a business neighborhood has the potential to reduce traffic by decreasing the number of people who commute by car who would instead use public transportation.”
MassDOT Director of Communications Cyndi Roy said the parcels leased by MassDOT are only the first steps in the revival of Boston’s North End retail, housing and overall value.
“This is part of a continued revitalization of the area, and really, the parcels that we’re leasing are parcels that were essential artery parcels,” she said. “It’s been great to use this land to offer more housing options for residents of the city, more opportunities for economic retail, shops and hotels. This is just another link in that chain.”
However, some employees in the area said they are unhappy with the numerous projects to build up North Boston.
David Kramer, sales manager of Hilton’s Tent City on Friend Street, said new apartments will heighten housing rates in the area.
“If they’re all brand-new apartments, they’ll increase the [housing] rates,” he said. “I don’t where they’re going to get all these people to afford these high leases.”
Other employees from local businesses located near the TD Garden said the new high rise would boost their sales with an increase in foot traffic.
“I think it’s going to make it a lot busier around here,” said Lindsay Ribeiro, a barista at Equal Exchange Café on Causeway Street. “Right now, we only have customers coming in from Causeway Street and some stragglers from North Station. I feel like it’s pretty dead around here, especially on the weekends, so maybe the weekends will be a lot busier.”
Sandy Lazzari, 35, resident of the West End near the construction, said she sees this project having a negative impact on the community.
“No one’s looking at the empty housing in the South End,” she said. “The big picture is being missed. In Back Bay, all the new buildings are all empty. The problem is a lack of planning new buildings and no new parking. The traffic is going to be torture. [New businesses] will put North End ‘Mom and Pop’ stores out of business.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the Boston Redevelopment Authority met on Monday to review the Government Center Garage project, when they actually held a community meeting for residents to address their concerns. Also, a previous version of this article stated that The Bulfinch Triangle was included in the Government Center Garage project, when it actually is a separate project near the same area. This article has been updated to reflect these corrections.