New York Streets Open Space A Steep Price to Pay for a Park

Earlier this year when the City-owned Shawmut Avenue lot in the New York Streets area was designated to be open space, it brought about cheers from the community.

It was an unexpected and easy victory.

Now, this week, the price of the lot has deflated a lot of the excitement – with the small passageway coming in at a sale price of $3.1 million.

That’s a steep price, many said, for a lot that will be used by the public and won’t make anyone any money.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) owns the lot – and formerly leased it to The Lucas during its construction period. This week, they confirmed that the lot has been valued through an independent appraiser at $3.1 million – even though it isn’t buildable.

The deadline for submissions is July 12, and the BPDA cannot comment on the process until after then.

However, many in the community said they were disappointed after being so excited about the prospects of the first piece of community open space becoming available in the dense New York Streets area.

Debra Backus, executive director of the neighboring Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO), said she was very disappointed when learning of the sale price – which she said would likely not attract many non-profit open space groups.

“I was so bummed out when I saw that because we had a large meeting with the South End community at Castle Square some time ago,” she said. “Everyone agreed on the open space. Then when it was designated as open space it was like, ‘Wow, we made it happen.’ Then it really was bittersweet when I saw the price at $3.1 million. It kind of undercuts the community because I don’t see anyone paying $3.1 million for a small piece of land that won’t generate any income.”

The RFP period for the BPDA will end on July 12, and those who have submitted bids will be reviewed. The land cannot be built on, and must be community open space that the winning bidder agrees to build out and maintain.

Already, as mitigation, the neighboring Davis Companies project on Shawmut Avenue has agreed to pay $75,000 for the engineering and design of the new park.

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