With the Seaport District adding apartments, hotels, and attractions at a frantic pace, more than 3,000 parking spaces have been eliminated in the past few years, causing frustrated drivers to circle endlessly for open meters and garages.
Last week, the Massachusetts Port Authority proposed some relief.
The regional port authority said that it is seeking companies to design a parking garage on an empty lot atop the Massachusetts Turnpike. The new garage, which Massport said should be completed in two to three years and could hold as many as 1,700 cars, would increase the waterfront’s total parking spaces by more than 10 percent.
The proposed garage would be built over a strengthened section of the turnpike tunnel near the World Trade Center complex. Although the site is about a third of a mile from the Seaport Square area, where visitors to Fan Pier and attractions like the Institute of Contemporary Art vie for parking with workers from the adjacent financial district, Massport said the parking garage would be vital for apartments and a planned hotel near the convention center.
"I think there's going to be more than one centroid of demand in the Boston waterfront," said Jim Doolin, MassPort's chief development officer. He said the garage would replace parking spots lost to the Waterside Place Apartments and a proposed hotel for the convention center.
Because the garage would be owned by Massport, a public entity, the spaces in it would not count toward the parking cap for South Boston, which is approaching its limit of about 30,389 parking places, said Carl Stratton, the director of climate and environmental planning for the City of Boston. South Boston, East Boston, and downtown all have an upper limit on parking spots as part of an agreement with the state and federal governments to limit air pollution.
Instead, the garage would count toward Massport's cap of 10,316 spots. A Massport spokesperson could not say how close the authority is to that limit, but said that the garage would not exceed the total.