Imagine Boston 2030: Walsh’s Impact on the Future of the City
As the Boston Globe recently observed, the awarding of the 2028 Olympics to Los Angeles reminds us of our own tumultuous and controversial bid for the 2024 games. One of the benefits of that bid is our city would have been pushed to rethink how to make better use of key parcels throughout the city. As the Globe noted, there is certainly no reason why we can’t engage in such a process anyway, which is what Mayor Martin Walsh is trying to do with his ambitious Imagine Boston 2030 plan.
Imagine Boston 2030 is a program designed to reach out to residents across the city of Boston and gather input on how to expand opportunity for residents, sustain a dynamic economy, enhance quality of life, and put actions in place to prepare for climate change.
Some 15,000 residents have participated over the past two years, and the final plan was released last month. It represents Mayor Walsh’s vision for the city of Boston over the next decade as it accommodates more jobs and a larger population. The plan encompasses a range of topics including affordable housing, education, jobs and the economy, health and safety, energy and the environment, and open space, among others.
The plan has several elements that are critical for developers and builders, notably its call for investment in six neighborhoods: Sullivan Square, Fort Point Channel, Suffolk Downs, Readville, Beacon Yards and Newmarket and Widett Circle, which had already been marked for redevelopment had the Olympic bid gone through. It also includes substantial plans for the Shawmut Peninsula, Fairmount Corridor and the waterfront.
The major themes in each case were to capitalize on public transit, create more open space and encourage walking and biking by improving upon the streets, as well as develop additional mixed-use buildings and strengthen industrial uses. At the same time, the plan is an attempt to anticipate a population boom in the city, as it is expected to rise from its current population of 656,000 up to 724,000 by 2030.
The Imagine Boston plan includes a commitment by the city to invest $2.08 billion in capital over the next five years to key development initiatives. About 77 percent of the city’s funds are already allocated for projects already underway, but much of it is still for the six neighborhoods targeted in the report.
For example, the Shawmut Peninsula will receive $20 million for improvements to make the area more walkable and bikeable. Sullivan Square will see a $14.8 million investment for a redesign of Rutherford Ave addressing climate, transportation and congestion, and a $165 million investment for the North Washington Street Bridge. Fort Point Channel will be allocated $4.2 million for the South Bay Harbor Trail to connect parts of the city. Readville will see a $1.4 million investment for Wolcott Square traffic signal improvements. And $7 million will go toward Martin’s Park to invest in open spaces for kids and families on the waterfront.
Not only that, but Widett Circle, which had been in the plans for redevelopment in preparation for the Olympics, is also in Mayor Walsh’s plans in Imagine Boston 2030. Part of his vision for this area is to preserve its critical industrial uses and enhance its connection to neighboring areas through housing growth and transit-oriented jobs.
Though the city is no longer in the running for an Olympic bid, it is still possible to accomplish many of the infrastructure changes that would have come with it. With the structure put in place outlining the key areas to be addressed from now until 2030, Boston is poised to continue its development into a dynamic economy with an enhanced quality of life for all residents.