Boston developers build buildings for the 1970s. This is because city officials haven’t yet found the political appetite to permit buildings that recognize the way 21st-century cities function. City Hall had a chance to embrace the present last spring, when it fielded a proposal to construct a parking-free apartment building, but it punted the opportunity away. Now, it’s getting a do-over.
It used to be that the only way to get suburbanites to move downtown was to sell them what they were used to. That’s why urban renewal-era housing towers in the West End and along the waterfront came paired with mammoth parking garages and a gated-community atmosphere. The cost of repopulating the downtown was the creation of suburban-style urban communities.