Thursday, July 1, 2010

What if there were zero additional parking at Riverside?

GaryR was audacious enough to raise this question in a comment on an earlier post. Let's entertain that seemingly crazy idea for a moment. Where would all the office workers have to come from? Let's see - it would be very difficult to drive there. Hmm. What other form of transport could one use? The green line?

The Green Line! (Also the Auburndale Commuter Rail stop, 10 min by foot from Riverside.)

All the empty morning reverse commute trains from Lechmere/Govt Center to Riverside would start to fill up with reverse, PAYING, commuters. Boston would see a revitalized real estate market, with new young professionals seeking rentals or condos in Boston, Brookline - heck, maybe even Newton - as a home base. Newton would be growing a healthy connection with Boston and itself along the D line corridor, rather than an unhealthy connection with sprawling exurbia. Riverside development would nurture the T, not I-95.

Is it not in the MBTA's best interests to promote T ridership, especially on empty trains that are returning anyway? Must we serve the exurbs rather than Newton-Brookline-Boston to fill office space with workers? What kind of exurban development pressure would the MBTA be further promoting by increasing parking so massively? Why wouldn't limited parking promote jobs for Newtonites (or relocating ones) right here in Auburndale or Lower Falls, or a couple stops down the line, raising local property values?

Is GaryR's question so crazy after all?


Nathan Phillips said...

Another way to put it: does Newton want to outsource the jobs that will fill the Riverside development? If so, bring on the parking.

Does Newton want some of the job creation for itself? Then limit the parking.

Nathan Phillips said...

Parking at Riverside is the Single Largest Allocation of Space:

Total area of Proposed Riverside Development: 1,091,162 square feet.

Retail: 14,800 square feet
Residential: 260,000 square feet
Office Space: 595,000 square feet

*2,720 parking spaces at ca. 275 square feet per parking space

(area estimates from

David said...

The T is taking short-term gain here at the expense of ever having a useful long-term transportation system. What is the T's real purpose? To develop a piece of scarce real estate, or to rationalize the Boston transportation system?

Riverside should be a real transportation hub, given its location. Instead it is a parking lot for a single overused line. There should be a high-speed line following Route 128, connecting the towns and the office/industrial areas. The commuter rail should have frequent expresses direct to downtown; the infrastructure already exists, with the old Riverside station and the spur that connects to the current one.

Also, and this is a separate point, I don't see anything in the current plans to actually make the residential part of the proposed development attractive to residents. There will be no street life (will it even have streets?), no flexibility for new businesses to try it out, no attraction for people to come from elsewhere. I can already see what the retail space will contain: bank branches, nail salons, personal trainers, and a coffee shop. This kind of development will probably attract short-term renters, not permanent residents.