Boston after Menino: losers and winners
Good morning, Bostonians, Marty Walsh will be your new mayor. For the first time in 20 years, it won’t be some guy named Menino. How does it feel? Don’t think about it for too long.
That’s because for those of you who do business in the city of Boston, you’ve got a lot of homework — namely memorizing a new political playbook. Tom Menino ruled this town with an iron fist, and made plenty of friends and enemies along the way. So who’s up, who’s down?
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Don Chiofaro If I were the Big Don, I’d be planning the biggest, baddest rockin’ New Year’s Eve party on the rooftop of his Harbor Garage. Next year is going to be huge for the developer’s much maligned proposal to build a pair of skyscrapers on the waterfront. The project has stalled for years thanks to a public feud with Menino, who was concerned Chiofaro’s towers would cast long shadows.
Paul Grogan Will he or won’t he? Rumors flew for years that the head of the Boston Foundation was going to run for mayor, and in April he wrote in an e-mail to staff that he was putting his hat in the ring. Ha! Turned out to be an April Fool’s stunt. Not sure if Grogan was ever serious, but the mayor never liked his political aspirations, legitimate or not. Now, look for Grogan to raise his profile even more. Boston wasn’t big enough for both of their egos.
Walmart Goodbye, nanny state? Walsh has said he is open to talking to the discounter about opening a store in the city, and residents might finally be able to pay less for milk without crossing the border.
Construction companies not named Suffolk John Fish is one of the hardest working guys in town, but it also helps to have a friend in City Hall. Fish’s tight relationship with the mayor paid dividends for Suffolk Construction. Fish will still thrive, but now competitors — like Lee Kennedy, Shawmut, Skanska, and Turner — can share the wealth.
Cambridge and Somerville Menino waged a war with Cambridge for start-ups, luring scores of companies and employees to his beloved Innovation District. Enough. With Walsh, regionalism will be back in vogue. Besides, the rest of the world already thinks Boston and the People’s Republic of Cambridge are one city.
Pedestrians & T riders The Big Dig gave drivers new tunnels, and Menino later added 65 miles of bike lanes and launched the Hubway bike-share program. With Boston relaxing parking construction requirements and kids today going car-less, Walsh will push for more public transit and urge us to hoof it.
Bon vivants Boston may finally become a city that doesn’t sleep. The T effectively shuts down at 1 a.m., the bars close at 2 a.m. But Menino just wasn’t a party pooper. He even put the kibosh on a Boston Sports Club in the Back Bay staying open 24 hours.
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Suffolk Downs Casino or no casino, this aging race track is losing its biggest backer. With Caesars’ abrupt exit and Eastie voting no, the track is a long shot for gaming. A Celtics playoff berth might be a better bet.
Downtown Crossing Only a mayor could love this desolate district pocked with empty storefronts and a gaping hole that used to be Filene’s Basement. Downtown Crossing, like the South Boston Waterfront, will need endless love from City Hall to complete its makeover.
Boston Redevelopment Authority and developers The BRA, the economic and development arm of the city, became a popular punching bag on the campaign trail, a symbol of autocratic Menino rule. The dismantling of the authority, however, will usher in a period of uncertainty for developers. They might end up longing for the old days.
DryDock Cafe Menino turned this no-frills seafood spot in the Seaport District into his power lunch headquarters. He liked sitting near the entrance and ordering the broiled haddock. “He’s still going to come here,” said owner Cathy Spiropoulos. “We’re like family.” The new mayor’s go-to place: McKenna’s Cafe in Savin Hill.
The media Talk radio gabber Howie Carr won’t have Mumbles Menino to kick around any more. Given the state of his station, WRKO, will anyone notice? Menino was far from eloquent, but he played us masterfully, knowing a slip of the tongue could generate headlines and sound bites. Look for the rookie mayor to be cautious — i.e. dull — as he figures out the power of the press.
Only 61 days left. Don’t start on the wrong foot with Walsh. It can be a long climb back. Just ask Don Chiofaro.