Reprinted from Boston Herald
A skyscraper decades in the making is finally poised to rise over South Station and commuters who regularly travel through Boston’s second-busiest transportation hub will face a variety of impacts.
Commuters will start to see crews set up construction zones and redirecting some station entrances this month, but officials said riders would “not see any significant changes” until July when Texas-based developer Hines starts to build the foundation for the 51-story mixed-use tower.
Hines and MBTA officials will host an open-house style meeting from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Boston Society of Architects in the Fort Point Room, 290 Congress St., where commuter line and T riders can learn what to expect over the next five years of construction.
The MBTA said in a meeting notice that is it “committed to keeping members of the public, users of South Station, and community stakeholders continually informed throughout the project with a robust outreach program,” but when the Herald reached out to an MBTA spokesman, little detail was provided on what that means.
City Councilor-at large Michelle Wu said she is worried the MBTA isn’t doing enough to “remove barriers” and is worried construction would be yet another deterrent for riding public transit.
“Red Line riders have been through a lot in the last few months and ridership still hasn’t recovered from the derailment,” Wu said.
The 678-foot tower will include 700,000 square feet of office space and 166 condominiums. As part of the development, Hines will create a new outdoor concourse area and expand the bus terminal to allow for more convenient connections between buses, the commuter rail and the subway.
“The completion of South Station Transportation Center improvements will create comfortable and convenient transfers to all modes of transit, with direct connections between the rail and bus terminal,” T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email to the Herald.
South Station is Boston’s busiest transportation hub after Logan International Airport, connecting the T’s red and silver lines along with the Commuter Rail, Amtrak trains and regional bus service. Construction will impact commuters — the details on just how will come out in the coming weeks, according to the developer.
The project has been plagued by a number of false starts since it was first approved in 2006. First, the recession halted construction. The project was again approved in 2016 and then stalled again. The project was sold to APG Asset Management and Dune Real Estate Partners earlier this year. The firms then closed with the Boston Planning and Development Agency on the 8.3-acre site for $33.5 million.
South Station is the latest MBTA station to undergo a major transformation by selling the air rights off to a private developer. Two MBTA stations in Quincy — at North Quincy and Quincy Center — will bring a combined 900 housing units over the next few years.
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