Beginning in 2016, City Hall Plaza Will See a Major Redevelopment

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, announced this week that the owners of the TD Garden, Delaware North Development Corporation, had won the race to redesign and revitalize the empty spaces of Boston’s City Hall Plaza.

“I am confident that the City of Boston has a great partner in Boston Garden Development Corporation who will help us make the best use year-round of the space we have at City Hall Plaza,” Walsh said.

The timeline released by the city in sees the project being completed within the next three years, pending final approval after an extensive public input initiative, which will allow residents to vote on whether the proposed plans are worthwhile.

In its submission, Delaware North said it envisioned paying an unspecified fee after recovering its initial investment in building out the plaza. It said the installation would result in “significant annual cash flow to the city.” The company said in an email that some components of its plan would only be financially viable if the city commits beyond the three-year contract.

The company beat out two other competitors to land the redevelopment contract after pledging over $15 million to the project, according to The Boston Globe.

The announced proposal features many different attractions to make the plaza a more desirable destination for both tourists visiting and for residents that are looking for something different to do in the city.

The plans include: a proposed 200-foot Ferris wheel, which will feature 42 climate-controlled gondolas, an “urban beach” during the summer months, an ice-skating rink during the winter, and a combination of permanent and temporary restaurants and shops.

The Ferris wheel design is reminiscent of the eponymous London Eye in England, but it remains to be seen whether firstly, the public would be on-board with the construction, and secondly whether it would be a popular attraction if approved.


 

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In the past, specific events like Boston Calling and Wiz Khalifa’s surprise concert have drawn large crowds to the plaza. Now the city is aiming to maintain a steady influx of people into the plaza, which on most days remains empty except for individuals who traverse it on their way to City Hall or Quincy Market.

“We just haven’t quite figured out what the sweet spot is,” Pat Brophy, Walsh’s chief of operations, said in a statement. “People walk around here all the time, they go to Faneuil Hall and follow the Freedom Trail, and then they get to this wide expanse of space and it’s just dead.”

Many of the attractions Delaware North has proposed would be free. Others would include a fee, like the Ferris wheel, according to The Boston Globe.

One of the big components of the proposal that led to the company’s securing the contract was that it vowed to not utilize public funds for the project.

“I think it would be nice, actually,” said Sean Healy, CSOM ‘18. “A Ferris wheel, a skating rink. It would be awesome.”

Public money is currently at a premium. with both the city and the state having made tough decisions in the last few weeks, including the controversial decision to shorten the operating hours of the MBTA by 90 minutes on Fridays and Saturdays.

In the past, several attempts to revitalize the plaza have not come to fruition due to financial shortcomings, but this past summer Walsh succeeded in securing an artificial “front lawn” to brighten the space. There are also plans to illuminate City Hall at night.

Construction of the Ferris wheel would not begin until next spring but work for the development of the winter garden could start as soon as this October.

Featured Image by City of Boston

About Juan Olavarria 70 Articles
Juan Olavarria is the Metro Editor for The Heights. He is double majoring in Economics and Philosophy. He enjoys watching Liverpool FC and has to frequently remind himself to stop trying to defend the merits of a midfield diamond. You can follow him on Twitter at @Juan_Heights.