Tag: mixed use project

Comments on Suffolk Downs redevelopment (EEA No. 15783)

Comments on Suffolk Downs redevelopment (EEA No. 15783)

January 25, 2018

Mayor Brian Arrigo
ATTN: Robert O’Brien, Director of Economic Development
City of Revere
281 Broadway
Revere, MA 02151

Secretary Matthew Beaton
ATTN: Page Czepiga, MEPA Analyst
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

Director Brian Golden
ATTN: Tim Czerwienski, Project Manager
Boston Planning and Development Agency
One City Hall, Ninth Floor
Boston, MA 02201

RE: WalkBoston comments on Suffolk Downs redevelopment (EEA No. 15783)

Dear Mayor Arrigo, Secretary Beaton and Director Golden:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HYM Investment Group’s proposed redevelopment of the Suffolk Downs site in East Boston and Revere. WalkBoston looks forward to working with the City of Revere, EEA, BPDA, HYM, and other agencies and project stakeholders to help advance the proponent’s stated goal of “creating a vibrant, mixed-use walkable community.”

Leveraging connections between walkability and transit

The proponent’s Expanded Project Notification Form (EPNF) reflects a strong commitment in principle to walkability and multimodal transportation connectivity. The proposed Phase 1 project emphasizes new pedestrian connections at the Suffolk Downs Blue Line station on the MBTA, and the Master Plan project is similarly premised upon pedestrian access to and from the Blue Line at Suffolk Downs and Beachmont Stations. Overall the Suffolk Downs site is wellpositioned for walkable transit-oriented development, which is reflected in HYM’s high anticipated mode shares for walking and transit for the Master Plan project. (The projected mode shares for walking range from 10.9% for office uses to 19.6% for residential uses; the projected mode shares for transit range from 45.4% for residential uses to 54.7% for hotel uses.)

The Phase 1 project has a much lower projected transit mode share of 37.5%, as well as a 44.4% projected mode share for single occupancy vehicles. We are concerned that this will create significant auto dependency from the onset of this project that will affect the future Master Plan development as well. The proponent states that “while there will be emphasis to support a high proportion of alternative trip making by the Phase 1 Project, this more conservative mode share profile has been utilized given the Phase 1 buildings are being analyzed as a standalone project without the benefit of a mixed-use environment.” We urge the proponent to aim for more ambitious transit, walking and biking mode share goals for the Phase 1 development to maximize the site’s potential for transit-oriented development.

The proponent also anticipates over 54,000 new transit trips per weekday, including over 4,000 trips during the morning peak hour and over 5,000 trips during the evening peak hour. This number is very high relative to current Blue Line ridership levels. As part of their transit analysis for the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), HYM should detail how they arrived at this number and how Blue Line ridership will change as the Master Plan project is phased in over time. This analysis should be accompanied by the proponent also clarifying their plans to invest in capacity upgrades along the Blue Line as part of a broader package of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies.

Exploring opportunities to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips and parking spaces

While the high projected transit mode share and ridership are positive attributes of this development proposal, the proponent still projects over 33,000 new vehicle trips per weekday, including over 3,000 trips during the morning peak hour and over 3,000 trips during the evening peak hour. This increased vehicular traffic has the potential to significantly affect congestion and pedestrian safety within the project site and along surrounding roadways. Given that vehicular access to the site is limited to just two intersections (Route 1A/Tomasello Way and Winthrop Avenue/Tomasello Way), the proponent should clarify how the project site and surrounding streets will handle this traffic in the DEIR. Significant mitigation measures will be necessary to address 33,000 new vehicles on already congested streets.

While HYM does not specify how many new parking spaces will be needed to accommodate these vehicles, WalkBoston calculates that between 10,800 and 16,200 new spaces will be necessary, depending on the development program and parking ratios used. (The proponent states that the following parking ratio ranges should adequately support the Master Plan project’s parking demand into the future: residential, 0.5 to 1.0 spaces per unit; office, 1.0 spaces per 1,000 SF; lab, 1.0 spaces per 1,000 SF; hotel: 0.5 spaces per room; retail: 0.5 spaces per 1,000 SF). We are encouraged by the relatively low proposed parking ratios for the residential units, as well as HYM’s broader recognition that auto trip rates are likely to decrease over time. The final residential parking ratio should be as close to 0.5 spaces per unit as possible and we look forward to reviewing HYM’s TDM plans as part of the DEIR. Any strategies and mitigation measures proposed must further enhance walkability, bikeability and transit access, while reducing single occupancy vehicle use and the associated need for parking.

Exploring opportunities for bus/shuttle connectivity and related pedestrian access

HYM notes that there are several MBTA bus lines (450, 459 and 119) along Route 1A and Winthrop Avenue within a half-mile walk of the project site, and that “there are opportunities to expand MBTA bus service into the project site and provide for internal site transportation/shuttle to further improve access to public transit” as the Master Plan project is built out. The proponent should further explore and detail these options as part of their TDM plans in the DEIR, as increased utilization of MBTA buses and/or shuttles can reduce single occupancy vehicle use. An analysis of bus/shuttle options should examine the potential for increased service on existing MBTA bus lines and associated changes in ridership, as well as the potential to service the neighborhoods surrounding the project site. The proponent should also clarify their plans for investing in such services, whether through funding the MBTA or their own shuttles.

Ensuring that pedestrians can safely and comfortably walk to and from bus/shuttle stops is critical to ensuring that these services will be utilized. Ideally bus/shuttle stops will be located within a quarter-mile of the project site to maximize their usage. We appreciate HYM’s commitment to improving sidewalks adjacent to the project site to meet ADA standards and to include street trees if feasible, as well as their acknowledgement of the need for mitigation measures and infrastructure improvements at the site’s primary vehicular access points (Route 1A/Tomasello Way and Winthrop Avenue/Tomasello Way). The proponent states that “geometric and traffic signal improvements will be recommended at both of these intersections to optimize traffic operations.”

Improvements at these locations must also address pedestrian safety and traffic calming. HYM plans to widen Tomasello Way and Route 1A as part of the Master Plan improvements, yet there are no crosswalks across Route 1A near the project site and the crosswalk across Tomasello Way at Route 1A is already 140 feet wide with minimal pedestrian refuge. Any signal and roadway upgrades at this location and near other shuttle/bus stops must provide safe pedestrian crossings and well-timed WALK signals that provide countdowns and leading pedestrian intervals. Long crossing distances should be reduced as much as possible using curb extensions, and pedestrian refuges should be created and enhanced to provide protected waiting areas. In extreme circumstances, the proponent might consider working with the MBTA to relocate bus stops to more pedestrian-friendly locations.

Creating a walkable project site that meets Complete Streets standards

In addition to leveraging pedestrian access to and from the Blue Line, the proponent has integrated walkability and pedestrian connectivity into many other aspects of their redevelopment proposal. These include creating a new interior street network on site that meets Boston Transportation Department’s (BTD) Complete Streets guidelines, developing a system of multi-use ADA-compliant paths and trails that connects to adjacent neighborhoods and regional path networks, and activating the public realm with open space amenities and extensive ground-floor retail. Creating streets, sidewalks and paths that accommodate road users of all abilities and travel modes is critical to developing more livable and walkable communities, so WalkBoston is pleased to see a commitment to these issues in the EPNF.

We look forward to seeing more detailed plans for the interior streets, paths, intersections and signals as part of the DEIR. The interior streets should be designed to ensure that vehicles follow a 20 mile per hour speed limit to maximize walking safety as well as walking and transit mode shares. They should also include additional measures for pedestrian safety and traffic calming, including narrow vehicular travel lane widths, frequent and well-marked crosswalks, and well-timed WALK signals that provide countdowns and leading pedestrian intervals. We encourage the proponent to maintain their current plans to not have vehicular access to the project site from Bennington Street or Waldemar Avenue, thus prioritizing multimodal connectivity and reducing the potential for increased local traffic.

Improving pedestrian safety throughout the project study area

The need for traffic mitigation is not limited to the immediate project vicinity and access points. To this end, HYM states that a mitigation program will likely focus on improvements to roadway geometry, traffic signals, and multimodal mobility along the broader Route 1A and Winthrop Avenue corridors, as well as Furlong Drive, the on-site roadway network, and other nearby intersections. The proponent also notes that many of the broader study area intersections are located within Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) clusters and thus are potentially subject to Road Safety Audits (RSAs) per Massachusetts Department of Transportation guidelines. WalkBoston looks forward to reviewing a more detailed discussion of the Master Plan project mitigation phasing and recommendations for the timing of specific roadway improvement projects as part of the DEIR. We are also available to participate in future RSAs as needed. Once again, we encourage utmost consideration for pedestrian safety and traffic calming measures as part of any improvement packages.

Thank you again for considering these issues and feel free to contact us with any questions.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Cc: House Speaker Robert DeLeo
Senate President Harriette Chandler
Senator Joseph Boncore, Transportation Co-Chair
Representative William Strauss, Transportation Co-Chair
Representative Adrian Madaro
Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell
Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, Transportation Chair
Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, District 1
Revere City Council President Jessica Giannino
Revere City Councilor Steven Morabito, Economic Development and Planning Chair
Revere City Councilor Joanne McKenna, Ward 1
Becca Wolfson, Boston Cyclists Union
Stacey Thompson, LivableStreets Alliance
Andre Leroux, Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance
Richard Fries, MassBike Marc Ebuña, TransitMatters
Chris Dempsey, Transportation for Massachusetts

Renaissance Village Comment Letter

Renaissance Village Comment Letter

WalkBoston appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Environmental Notification Form (ENF) for the Renaissance Village project in Brockton. The project is a 40-R mixed use project of 6 stories, including 308 residential units, commercial and retail space, and a 460-space parking garage.

The project is located in an urban setting that occupies one full city block of downtown Brockton. It is readily accessible on foot to the Brockton commuter rail station, one of three serving the city. It will be a good addition to the city by helping to establish downtown as a place to live as well as work or shop.

Read the full letter here:

Queset Commons Comment Letter

Queset Commons Comment Letter

Thank you for the opportunity to review the Draft EIR for the Queset Commons Chapter 40R Smart Growth Development in Easton, a proposed mixed-use retail, office and residential development within a Smart Growth Overlay District.

Our conviction is that developments of the size and character of Queset Commons should follow a number of general guidelines in building a mix and relationship of uses that will encourage residents and visitors to walk more and drive less.

Read the full letter here:

Hamilton Canal District Comment Letter

Hamilton Canal District Comment Letter

June 6, 2008

Secretary Ian Bowles
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: Environmental Notification Form (ENF)
Hamilton Canal District, Lowell
MEPA # 14241

Dear Mr. Bowles:

We have reviewed the ENF for the Hamilton Canal District in Lowell, a proposed mixed-use retail, office and residential redevelopment in the historic canal district near downtown. We are pleased that walking and pedestrian facilities are major organizing features of the development. We are commenting because details of this worthy project may need further analysis to serve the needs of pedestrians throughout the city.

WalkBoston is the Commonwealth’s leading advocate for pedestrians and safe walking. We work throughout the state encouraging walking, advocating for pedestrian improvements and working for design improvements. We have extensive experience helping residents and local government with pedestrian issues, safe routes to school, and safer street crossings.

Project description
The proposed Hamilton Canal District is located adjacent to downtown Lowell and is bounded on the south and west by Thorndike/Dutton Street, a major arterial into downtown Lowell with relatively heavy traffic. The north boundary of the site is immediately adjacent to the National Park Service Visitor Information Center on Market Street. The development is separated into three parts by the Middlesex, Pawtucket and Hamilton Canals which spread through the site. Considerable vacant land remains where factories were demolished. The few on-site historic buildings will be retained, rehabilitated or rebuilt as parts of larger structures.

The proposal comprises 11 new buildings on 13 acres with 50,000 SF of ground level retail space, 420,000 SF of office space, 600 new housing units and 1800 new parking spaces. Components are designed to blend with the historic city: frontage is lined with retail outlets and on-street parking and pedestrian amenities are key design elements. Building heights will range from 6 to 15 stories, with the tallest structures adjacent to the open space along the canals. A new trial court building is located south of Jackson Street.

A trolley line now arcs through the National Park sites along Dutton Street at the edge of the site. The trolley will be realigned to pass directly through the site over new bridges and right-ofway. The ultimate goal for the trolley is a further off-site extension to the Gallagher Transportation Center’s buses and commuter trains to Boston.

We believe that there are five issues that need more detailed exploration:
1. Sidewalk widths and surfaces
2. Canal crossings
3. Signage and wayfinding
4. Access to transit
5. Conflicts with vehicular traffic

Issue 1: Sidewalk widths and surfaces
A rule of thumb for a minimum clear sidewalk width is 5.’ A minimum of 8’ clear width is preferable in commercial areas. The proposed “Street Types,” as detailed by diagrams for this project do not always meet this standard.

  • Sidewalk widths of 7’ to 10’ should be adequate, but these widths are frequently diminished because of lights and signs located on the sidewalk.
  • On Street Types 1B, 1C, 2B, sidewalks are 6’ wide, but include space for light poles and other streetside elements. As these intrusions into the width of the sidewalk will be centered 20” from the curb line, the remaining clear width of the sidewalk will be 4’ – possibly a little less. This does not allow for wheel chairs or baby carriages to smoothly pass each another or other walkers or for people to walk comfortably side by side.
  • Street Type 3B permits only a 4’ wide sidewalk on one side. This width is not acceptable for foot traffic, as there are intrusions for railings.
  • Most of the canalside paths are the responsibility of the National Park Service. The NPS standards for sidewalk widths appear to be somewhat more generous than those designed by the developer and/or the City of Lowell. What happens when the two systems must be integrated, as, for example, where connections between canal paths require walkers to cross the bridges over the Pawtucket and Hamilton Canals?
  • How will bicycles be accommodated in the project area? It is not clear whether some of the paths are intended to be multi-purpose, and designed or signed for use by cyclists.
  • Walkway surfaces will be made of scored concrete with broom finish. Care should be taken that walkers are not forced to use cobble- or brick-paved surfaces along any part of their routes through the development. All “tree ways” abutting the sidewalks should be crossed by smooth sidewalks at intersections.


Issue 2: Canal crossings
Six bridges and one trestle over the canals will be rebuilt or rehabilitated; two bridges and the trestle are solely for pedestrian use, and the bridge at the Swamp Locks serves only pedestrians and the trolley. The trestle, with rail removed, will be rehabilitated as part of the canalside pedestrian path network and constructed separately from this project.

  • The two Hamilton Canal pedestrian bridges appear to connect through the Appleton Mills buildings. Are both bridges part of the pedestrian network? Will walkers have access into and through the buildings?
  • The reconstructed bridge at the Swamp Locks will offer a spectacular view of the locks and waterfall at the center of the site. Will the bridge (Street Type 1C) have a wide sidewalk where visitors may stand to view the locks and the waterfall? Will the bridge have extra width to accommodate the continuation of 10’ wide canalside paths?
  • Will the trolley bridge over the Merrimack Canal also be available for pedestrian crossings? If not, how will pedestrian access be controlled?


Issue 3: Signage and wayfinding
Central to the use of a new pedestrian network are wayfinding directions and signage for pedestrian pathways.

  • The central axis of the development will connect the NPS Visitor Center to the Swamp Locks, a highly desirable destination for visitors to the site. Will there be wayfinding signage or pavement markings along this route to help walkers get to the attraction?
  • Wayfinding is also essential for the large canalside pedestrian network envisioned for the site. Does the proposed plan include wayfinding on these pedestrian ways, especially in locations where continuation of the path involves turns to cross a bridge?


Issue 4: Access to Transit
We hope that transit will play an important role in connecting visitors and employees to this project and other parts of downtown. Shuttle bus services may be provided through or near the project. Ultimately the trolley will connect downtown Lowell to the Gallagher Transportation Center’s buses and trains.

  • Will trolley construction be phased into an early stage of development? Can shuttle services be routed through the project for service until the trolley is constructed?
  • Will pedestrians be able to reach the Gallagher Center on foot?


Issue 5: Conflicts with vehicular traffic
Through movements by vehicles are minimized by an indirect routing via a large “S” curve on a single street connecting Broadway and Revere Street. Several pedestrian issues remain:

  • Jackson Street at the south edge of the development site now serves the large Jackson- Appleton-Middlesex (JAM) parking garage and is being extended to Thorndike/Dutton Street. Where Jackson intersects Revere Street, monitoring will be necessary to determine if traffic and pedestrian signals are warranted.
  • The intersection of Jackson Street and Thorndike/Dutton Streets will need to be made safe with traffic signals and countdown pedestrian signals, as it is the replacement for a longplanned pedestrian overpass above Thorndike Street.
  • The intersection of Broadway and Thorndike/Dutton Streets will become a primary access point to this development, connecting to a new on-site parking garage and other new underground parking. The intersection may warrant countdown pedestrian signals.


Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this document, which offers great promise for pedestrians. Please feel free to contact us for clarification or additional comments.


Wendy Landman                                            Robert Sloane
Executive Director                                          Senior Planner

Meadow Walk DEIR Comment Letter

Meadow Walk DEIR Comment Letter

March 21, 2008

Secretary Ian Bowles
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114
Attn: MEPA Office, Anne Cannaday, MEPA Analyst

RE: Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR)
Meadow Walk at Lynnfield
MEPA # 14096

Dear Mr. Bowles:

We have reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Meadow Walk at Lynnfield, a proposed mixed-use retail, office and residential redevelopment of a portion of the Sheraton Colonial Golf course in Lynnfield and Wakefield. We are encouraged that walking is such a major organizing feature of the development and that the Town of Lynnfield is firmly implementing its design standards for the project.

We are commenting because of the need to continue promoting new ways to encourage pedestrian safety and access in suburban development throughout Massachusetts. In this project, the design details can help in making it pedestrian friendly.


Summary of comments:

  •  A change has been made in parking lot design to incorporate landscaped swales. These swales could be used creatively to offer an opportunity for pedestrian walkways through the parking lots. If equipped with walkways, the swales could be integrated into a network of pedestrian ways. New safety measures such as crosswalks and signage should be added.
  •  As proposed, the perimeter road remains a relatively high-speed roadway. Speeds should be mitigated by signage, traffic control measures and traffic calming installations.
  •  Because the residences and the town center are separated by the perimeter road and parking lots, it remains difficult to imagine much walking between these two components of the project. It would be more encouraging for people to walk if the two were located closer together, and were not divided by so much vehicle circulation.
  •  Pervious sidewalks are now a feature of the design of the residential areas. Walkways at the edges of water and marshy areas should also be paved with pervious materials.
  •  The former golfing fairway between the Saugus River, the Lynn Canal and Route 128/95 should be designated as open space with walkways. If signage for the shopping center is needed in this area, it would not substantially detract from this use.
  •  Guiding principles for this project call for the use of traffic calming techniques, traffic controls and signage elements. All should be detailed and mapped in future documents.
  •  Paving materials that are selected and put in place should maximize wide, smooth surfaces where wheelchairs or carriages can be used in comfort.
  •  Retaining an option for additional pedestrian access between site walkways and Walnut Street will make a future walking network more complete.


Walking in the parking lots
Town design standards for Meadow Walk at Lynnfield call for large parking lots to be divided into blocks of no more than 200 spaces, with each parking block separated from others by a landscaped area that is a minimum of 10 feet wide. Standards also call for 7 percent of the area of large parking lots to be landscaped. The town design standards do not address the safety of walking in the parking lots.

In following these directives, the proponent has begun to humanize the site’s large parking lots by dividing parking areas into blocks of 200 cars or less divided by long, rhythmically spaced, vegetated biofiltration swales perpendicular to the service drives at the rear of Main Street’s business structures and the perimeter road. The swales are designed as 10-foot wide landscaped, unpaved areas that collect and distribute runoff from the parking areas and filter it through soil and plantings.

From review of diagrams in the report, it appears that the swales, with design modifications and/or widening, could also serve as walkways. Flat walkways on each side of the sloped portion of the swales could be an integral part of the landscaping and provide safer walking through the parking lots. If built of pervious materials, the walkways would help with the biofiltration functions. The walkways would give safe access for walkers who otherwise are forced to wander among vehicles in the midst of the expansive parking areas. The walkways could be part of the 7% of the parking lot area that must be landscaped.

Safe methods for pedestrians to cross the parking lots exist only in a few locations via sidewalks along access streets. Figures 1.4 and 9.2 show the pedestrian network for the project. Based on Figure 9.2, up to 15 parking lot walkways could be assembled along the biofiltration swales and along with the sidewalks accompanying the entrance streets.

Crosswalks, traffic controls/signage and traffic calming
Crosswalks at street crossings within the shopping and residential areas should be identified as part of the pedestrian network for the site. Crosswalks should also be provided at all major access into parking areas, such as the entrances to the Main Street shop groupings. Crosswalks should also be provided at walkways that may be added to the biofiltration swales.

Grade separated crosswalks are cited in responses to our EENF comments (C-003-002), but are not shown in this document. A grade separated crossing for pedestrians within the parking area that connects the Main Street Village Development with the walkway to the Reedy Meadow is cited in responses (C-003-007), but not shown in maps.

Traffic controls throughout the project should be detailed, along with signage that helps direct traffic and make the area safer for pedestrians. Signage should include wayfinding signs and signs relating to the residential areas, as needed.

Traffic calming is hinted at but not fully described. (See Response C-003-009 mentioning a “flush plaza area.” A full explanation of the traffic calming strategies is essential. These should include any raised intersections, narrowed streets, and curb extensions that make street crossings shorter and safer for pedestrians.

The Reedy Meadow/Saugus River/Lynn Canal Walkway
A walkway along the Reedy Meadow is proposed in Figures 1.4 and 9.2, (Pedestrian and Bicycle Circulation Plan), extending along the edge of the Saugus River to the bridge where Route 128/95 crosses the stream. The open space associated with this walkway is shown on Figure 5.1. (Plan Changes Since MEPA Submittal.) All paving done to construct this walkway should be made of pervious paving materials to absorb and filter associated run-off.

Details of the walkway along the Saugus River are shown in Figures 3.4 and 3.5 (Buffer Zone Improvement Plan and Saugus River Buffer Zone Improvement Plan). The Lynn Canal, which transports water from the Saugus River to the City of Lynn, will remain a permanent feature. It should be treated in a sensitive way, similar to the plans for the banks of the Saugus River. A buffer zone along the full length of the Lynn Canal is not included. (Figs 3.5 and 5.1)

The Saugus River buffer area affects about half of the Lynn Canal, lying between the Lynn Canal and Route 128/95 in an area that once was a fairway of the Sheraton Colonial Golf Course. The entire former fairway – perhaps 800 feet long – should be part of the designated on-site open space. This would protect the edges of the Lynn Canal, provide additional space for walking and set a welcoming landscaped area for the on-site shopping area. Even if the land is intended for installation of a large shopping center sign, the open space could remain useful as watershed buffer and as an asset for walkers.

Pedestrian access to Walnut Street
Despite adverse local comment, we continue to think that the option for additional pedestrian access between the site and Walnut Street should be retained. With increasing numbers of walkers, future walking possibilities and the need for such connections cannot now be foreseen. Without this access, pedestrians arriving via Walnut Street must enter near the Rte 128 ramps, a location with heavy traffic volumes.

Connecting the residences and shopping components
The on-site luxury housing (180 units) and the LIFE component (40 units) are wholly separated from retail/office uses by the perimeter roadway. The layout is not designed to maximize walking from the residential buildings into the mall. Walking from the LIFE component will be a primary mode of getting to the shops other than driving, as the shuttle bus does not appear to provide this service. Two crosswalks of the perimeter road are indicated between the residences and the main town center buildings. These crosswalks are located at the luxury apartments. We remain concerned that the crossings are located on the relatively high speed perimeter. Raised crosswalks at these locations have been cited but not shown. (See Response C-003-011.)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this document. Please feel free to contact us for clarification or additional comments.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Robert Sloane
Senior Planner