New City Hall Plaza Amenities Aim to Increase Foot Traffic

Boston’s City Hall Plaza will officially be redeveloped by the Boston Garden Development Corporation, division of Delaware North and the owner and operator of TD Garden, the Mayor’s Office has announced. The revamped area will include a European-style street market and an outdoor skating path.

Professor Ed Chazen, a senior lecturer with the Business Law and Society department, believes that the first thing to consider is the history of the area. He stated that, located in front of Boston’s City Hall in the Government Center area, the Plaza has not taken off since its days as Scollay Square. With a great location and huge space, it still holds the potential to become an attractive and popular civic space.

Earlier this spring, the city of Boston announced that BGDC had won the race to renovate City Hall Plaza. The enhancement of the area is part of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s, WCAS ’09, plan to create a welcoming public space at the City Hall and to make the plaza a year-round destination.

Charlie Jacobs, CEO for Delaware North’s Boston Holdings, shares Mayor Walsh’s visions for the partnership with the city of Boston. Jacobs said in the press release that City Hall Plaza is the “heart of the city,” and the Boston Holdings team is excited to be fashioning a winter experience, as well as for other seasons, that will capture the attention of the residents and visitors of Boston.

“I think it is a really nice idea to revitalize the downtown area,” Claire Marvin, CSOM ’18, said. “Although the new improvements would not entice me enough to go to the City Hall Plaza during the rest of the year, I will probably go check it out during the holidays.”

With the winter activities, the city will have the first, custom-designed outdoor skating path in New England and a European-inspired holiday shopping market to look forward to. When he first heard about the new plans, William Torsiglieri, MCAS ’18, expressed his enthusiasm.

“I love to skate so I would definitely take advantage of the outdoor skating path, and the market would provide a perfect opportunity to get my Christmas shopping in right after the activity,” Torsiglieri said.

Torsiglieri noted that, as a young consumer, the new renovations would be beneficial for the city’s publicity since it would provide beautiful backdrop scenery for social media platforms, such as Instagram posts.

Opening after Thanksgiving through Feb. 2017, the 11,000 square foot outdoor ice path will provide an exciting new experience in comparison to a traditional ice rink. There will also be resident and youth skating programs, with the date to be determined.

The tree outdoor holiday shopping market will open after Thanksgiving and continue through New Year’s Day 2017. To create the winter atmosphere, the market will feature seasonal delicacies and interactive attractions provided by local and international vendors. Visitors will be able to find food and beverage offerings inside individual Swiss chalets.

Kafilat Obasola, MCAS ’18, is skeptical about the popularity of the European inspired holiday shopping market among students. Students might not want to make the trek to downtown Boston just to stroll the markets, she said.

“With Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market close by, I’m not sure if the new market will provide a better alternative to the existing marketplaces,” Obasala said. “It would have been nice to be able to experience the market during the fall season when the weather would have provided the perfect temperature for taking a stroll outside.”

Similarly, Chazen’s initial reaction was doubt towards the ability of the new Plaza in generating visitors.

“Boston already had a great and successful model that the City should have replicated,” Chazen said. “The Leventhal Park, located in the Financial district and less than a 10 minute walk from the Plaza, offers many great amenities including the Great Lawn and a cafe.”

Since the partnership, BGDC has been working with the city’s Property Management Department for plans to install shaded picnic tables on City Hall Plaza. The new seating options will test the success of the area as a gathering spot for commuters and visitors. Obasola agreed that the seating areas, coupled with art pieces and statues, would help to make the area look lively.

“This way, City Hall Plaza would not have to be a place where you go to do something,” Obasala said. “Accessible seating such as benches would allow students to just go sit and hang out.”

Featured Image by Juan Olavarria / Heights Editor