^ the seaport Square project; Mayor walsh saying it’s a great day
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Attending Friday’s ground-breaking party for Seaport Square’s 60 million dollar development, I could not but think of the meeting, only two nights prior, held barely a mile away,at which was discussed the situation at Long Island, where a homeless shelter for hundreds was closed without notice because the bridge to the Island was condemned.
At the Seaport Square event hundreds of well dressed developers, architects, executives, elected officials — Charlie Baker came by, as did City Councillors Flaherty and Linehan, State Representative Nick Collins, and State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry — and friends of the Seaport District drank complimentary, high-end beverages and ate delicious hors d’oeuvres as they talked about, or viewed photigraphs of, the Square’s ambitious, multi-use edifices. There will soon be hundreds of residences; thousands of feet of retail space; and a commodious theater, the first to be built in Boston in many years.
No expense was spared to make this ground-breaking a party to savor.
John Hynes of the Boston Group, who emceed the ceremony, called the project “as transformative to Boston as the Prudential and Copley place.” It would, he said, create 3,000 construction jobs and lead to 1,300 jobs on site once open.” Mayor Walsh, the event’s key speaker, said “this is the largest development this city has seen in decades.”
Charlie Baker spoke with Michael Flaherty amid a crowd of over 100 celebrants
Big it is; maybe as big as Hynes and Walsh assert, though the Prudential Center was prettty darn impressive in its own right. It created something where before there had been basically nothing (just rail yards). Seaport Square will not create a neighborhood, simply top it off. Still, yes, impressive.
Hynes also said “the Seaport is the darling of the international investor commnity right now.” And that, I want to say, is the point. Money goes to money : and the Seaport is all about capacious money. It houses, entertains, invites meetings of the many younger Bostonians who work in the city’s prosperous technology, financial, legal, and architectural professions; in consulting and public relations; in networking and trade shows; in the restaurant industry and, yes, in government; and almost all of whom earn lavish incomes that can handle 40-dollar dinners, 25-dollar parking fees, and 3,000 to 5,000-dollar rents to live there.
Scant wonder that the “international investor community” views the Seaport as a “darling.” Money likes investing in money. It likes those who have money to spend and who do spend it.
City Hall likes money, too. Huge tax revenues will accrue to Boston’s city budget from Seaport Square. The construction jobs that begin today support Mayor Walsh’s core constituency. They can only be grateful that Walsh’s administration has guided the Square project past what Hynes called “years of disappointment and delays” to the beginning of work at last.
Yes, it was a happy crowd of one hundred.
Meanwhile, at Blackstone Community Center scarcely two nights prior, an even larger crowd of desperately homeless people and harried service providers screamed, begged, insulted a room full of City officials to get them somewhere to live as winter approaches them huddled on streets, curled up under bridges, heat-hunting on subway grates and sewer vents. At that gathering there was no food, no happiness, few people well dressed, no congratulations, no ceremony, no money. No international investors smiled; and the several elected officials who did attend seemed to offer an “I have no words” personal presence in support of people who have very little of anything, not even of hope; people living on the edge of health crises and utterly vulnerable to robbery and assault — because that’s how it is when one is homeless. Predators do not feed on Seaport Square, with its security staff and surveillance cameras. They prey on undefended bodres sleeping on slabs of stone in blanket packs.
By no means do I claim that Mayor Walsh does not give a damn about Boston’s battalion of suddenly homeless evictees from a closed long Island shelter. He does care. But any assistance his administration accords to Long Island’s people will be hard to put in place. It’ll be scraped together in buildings now unused and, most likely, out of the way (as was Long island itself). That’s how it is when you’re a dishevelled embarrassment and your life’s a cost burden to a society that can’t move fast enough when the clientele is people who look fabulous and carry acres of diamonds in their pockets.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere