Downtown News and Blog

Urban Exploration: Boston - Day 1

May 17, 2017 Written by

Published in Downtown News and Blog

The Downtown Alliance can learn from the successes of other neighborhoods and downtowns throughout the country. The Urban Exploration program brings public and private sector leaders together to learn about the best practices of other cities. This is the fourth in a series of annual trips sponsored by the Downtown Alliance to build relationships and learn from the success of other communities.

The Urban Exploration program is a working trip focused on building relationships and inspiring innovation in downtown Salt Lake City. This year's urban exploration participants will learn about downtown Boston's Public Market, private management of public spaces, clean and safe programs, social service incubators and more. 

This is the fourth in a series of annual trips sponsored by the Downtown Alliance to build relationships and learn from the success of other communities: we visited New York in 2014, Chicago in 2015 and San Francisco in 2016. 

Boston Public Market Tour and Discussion 
We started our day at the Boston Public Market where we were joined by the Boston Public Market staff and local leaders:
Cheryl Cronin (CEO @ Boston Public Market)
Mackenzie Sehlke (Director of Community Engagement and Education @ Boston Public Market 
Andrew Grace (Director of Strategic Planning and Development @ City of Boston)
David Webber (Farmers’ Market Program Coordinator @ MA Department of Agriculture)
Lauren Shurtleff (Senior Planner and Special Assistant to the Director of Planning @ City of Boston)

The panel discussed the public private partnership that lead to its completion. The Boston Public Market Association was formed in 2001 by a dedicated coalition of food lovers, producers, and state and city officials. After years of work advocated for the development of a public market, they gained support of elected officials and helped identify a permanent site for the market. The Market currently spans the ground floor of 100 Hanover Street, which also contains the Boston RMV branch, entrances to the Haymarket MBTA station, vent stacks for the Interstate-93 tunnel, and a parking garage. The building and the current Market’s location had been vacant for over 12 years.  

Salt Lake City is currently in the process of planning a public market in the proposed Station Center area, just west of the Rio Grande Depot. Learning the ins and outs from those who have been through the same process is invaluable for our private and public leaders who are attending our trip. 
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Downtown Boston Business Improvement District 
After our Pubic Market tour, we visited with our Boston counterparts at the Boston BID headquarters. We joined maintenance officials for a walking tour on the “nuts and bolts” of public space management in Downtown Crossing followed by a luncheon. We were joined by:
Rosemarie Sansone (President/CEO @ Downtown Boston BID)
Steve Brookes (BID Clean and Hospitality Operations Manager @ Downtown Boston BID)  
Anita Lauricella (Planner/Project Manager @ Downtown Boston BID).

While on a larger scale, the Boston BID encounters several of the same challenges that Salt Lake City is facing. Seeing how they've activated once blighted neighborhoods provides valuable insight and viable solutions for Salt Lake.
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Optional Afternoon Activities
Our tour of the Boston BID was followed by several optional activities were strategically selected projects and initiatives that correlate to emerging initiatives and trends in downtown Salt Lake City – with a little bit of fun mixed in for good measure!

Institute of Contemporary Art
The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is an art museum and exhibition space located in the South Boston Seaport District. The museum was founded as the Boston Museum of Modern Art in 1936 with a mission to exhibit contemporary art. Since then it has gone through multiple name changes as well as moving its galleries and support spaces over 13 times. The building's design, which echoes that of nearby waterfront gantry cranes, has been celebrated by many critics for its openness, represented by its exterior grand staircase, and willingness to embrace the surrounding harbor. We met with ICA Executive Director Jill Medvedow and then received a tour from Ruth Erickson, museum curator.

Fort Point Redevelopment Story
The Fort Point area was first developed in the 1830s by the Boston Wharf Company and through the 20th century was one of the principal marketplaces for wool in the United States. Manufacturing and warehousing have since declined in Boston’s, but the buildings have been preserved as a Landmarks District. Artists have traditionally called the area home, converting many of the structures to studios and lofts. The area is also home to the Boston Children’s Museum, the Boston Fire Museum, as well as art galleries and design studios. We had the pleasure of joining Valerie Burns and Sara McCammond for a walking tour of the district. Valerie and Sara are long time neighborhood advocates and artists that with intimate knowledge of the history of the neighborhood and the dramatic transformations associated with dynamic new development in a historic district.

The project in the photo below is a great example of historic preservation (note the exterior brick walls with supports) amidst new development.
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Boston Duck Tour
Our group cruised by all the places that make Boston the birthplace of freedom and a city of firsts, aboard a a W.W.II style amphibious landing vehicle. The tour included the golden-domed State House to Bunker Hill and the TD Banknorth Garden, Boston Common and Copley Square to the Big Dig, Government Center to fashionable Newbury Street, Quincy Market to the Prudential Tower and more.

Fidelity Investments Reception
For our evening event, we were joined by Tara Amaral, the Senior Vice President and Head of Talent Acquisition at Fidelity Investments. Ms. Amaral assumed her current position in the talent acquisition group in March 2014 and is responsible for enterprise recruiting, social media development, strategic talent acquisition projects, and overseeing Fidelity's staffing group that attracts and attains talent across all business units of Fidelity Investments worldwide.

The Fidelity Investments Reception was held at the Union Club of Boston which has a similar feel to the Alta Club of Salt Lake City. From its inception, The Union Club of Boston has been characterized by forward thinking. The founding members didn't restrict themselves to a single political party, but drew in all those willing to support the Union Cause in the Civil War: Republicans, Democrats, and Abolitionists alike. 
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