In a time of racial reckoning, this white wealthy enclave grates
Re “By any other name, still an innovation: Mocked at the time, Menino’s vision — if not his label — for the Seaport has come to pass” (Page A1, Jan. 31): Columnist Shirley Leung wrote about the Seaport District, Boston’s last golden opportunity to share the city’s prosperity with all its residents. It never happened. As Leung notes, “The city’s newest neighborhood is also among its whitest.”
In a time of racial reckoning, promoting a white enclave with tax breaks and free rent would seem unimaginable. How many Roxbury, Dorchester, or Mattapan businesses are awarded free rent and tax breaks?
Low- and moderate-income residents and businesses help finance these giveaways through their taxes. How many Black and brown residents live or work in the Seaport? How much affordable housing has been developed in the area?
It is great that Amazon will be bringing in more jobs to continue the city’s economic growth, but is there a strategy to hire the unemployed from Boston’s impoverished neighborhoods so that they can share in this prosperity? Moving companies from Cambridge to the Seaport is a zero-sum game.
Boston faces many challenges as a majority-minority city. The city administration and the Globe need to continue advocating for education, training, and employment of Boston residents in the “innovation economy” and spend less time touting the many real estate deals making millionaires richer. Former mayor Tom Menino was well known for rewarding his friends with lucrative development deals. Yes, somewhere the late mayor may be saying, “I told you so,” as Leung puts it. However, a lot of others were telling anybody who would listen that inequality in this wonderful city would be exacerbated through continuing down a path to creating a wealthy, white enclave in Boston’s last frontier.
The writer is the former director of the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation of Boston.
They failed to establish area as a real neighborhood
I was dismayed to read Shirley Leung’s front-page commentary about the Seaport on Sunday. While the piece focuses on the economic aspect and the tech boom, it ignores the sprawl that has resulted due to a lack of urban planning.
The wall of faceless black-mirror mixed-use buildings has eradicated any view of the waterfront, and any unified inclusion of public space, particularly green space, has been eschewed. No effort seems to have been made to establish this as a neighborhood — an occurrence that has become far too regular in Boston.
In addition, with no transportation planning, the area, pre-pandemic, was the site of gridlock during morning and evening commuting times. No plans to address this have been approved, and one assumes the situation will resume as people return to their offices and buildings continue to be constructed.
Leung does at least touch on the area’s blatant lack of diversity. But she overlooks the fact that the growth and resultant spillover to the Fort Point neighborhood has all but eradicated what was once a vibrant arts community. This points to a glaring failure in Menino’s self-described “deliberate and more experimental” approach to developing the area.
A missed opportunity
The Seaport should be viewed not as an experiment that paid off but rather as a profound missed opportunity. With proper planning and vision, tax-producing property could have been achieved along with parks, bike lanes, recreational space, picnic areas, waterfront access, and so many other attractions for city dwellers and visitors. Instead, we have an urban jungle, not concrete, but glass, and a totally user-unfriendly environment. How sad.