In a comment that's received little in the way of publicity, City Councilor Frank Baker has called for a hearing to discuss the possibility of locating public libraries within privately owned mixed use or commercial buildings across the city. Neighborhoods like Savin Hill and Chinatown are not currently serviced by a Boston Public Library Branch and a mixed use development in the neighborhood could house just such a branch.
Personally, I think the plan would serve multiple purposes and provide a far greater benefit to the neighborhood than if officials decided to use a vacant lot solely for a new library branch. The following are just some thoughts on how this model could benefit neighborhoods.
Looking forward to following the discussions on this as we look at more innovative ways that the city can spur development of new housing units.
The Walsh Administration hasn't wasted any time putting forth it's vision for the future growth of Boston. As the first major development plan to come out of City Hall under the Walsh Administration, Boston2030 describes in detail the goal of 53,000 new housing units in Boston proper by 2030.
The report discusses the administration's goals and means of achieving the stated goals through four main categories; 1) Affordable housing, 2) Middle Class, "Work-Force" housing, 3) Senior housing and 4) Student Housing.
The 53,000 new units would be an increase of 20% above the current housing stock in Boston and assumes a population of 709,000 residents. Below is a cursory overview of the 133 page report released last week by the Mayor's Office. The full report can be viewed here.
Boston's Population Shifts
Boston's population has ebbed and flowed greatly throughout the last century. In the 1950's the city had a population that peaked at over 800,000. In the decades that followed our nations interstate highway system was improved and urban sprawl became the new norm. The population dipped to a low of 550,000 as recently as the late 1990s (US Census Bureau numbers) and was only at 555,000 as recently as 1999. The City's population is currently continuing a rapid rate of growth and as recently as 2013, was estimated to be about 640,000.
This is an incredibly ambitious goal but thats the point. Boston is arguably seeing its single greatest and most rapid period of change and growth in it's history. In order to maintain Boston as an attractive place to live, to work and to play, we need to make the city more accessible to all people. We have some of the greatest minds in the world doing incredible things throughout Boston and we need to do everything possible to keep them here in Boston. Creating "innovation districts" in the Seaport are great but this doesn't solve the problem of where to house those working in the district. Boston's increasingly becoming a city of startups. If we hope to continue this trend we need to enable people to live in Boston at an affordable price and to eventually have some hope of realize the dream of owning their own home in the city.
This plan provides an excellent road map to achieving these housing goals. Going forward however, more will need to be done to deal with an increasing elderly population as well as finding more ways to incentivize affordable development that allows younger people to set down roots and eventually grow their businesses and raise families here. Ambitious ideas are the reason Boston is flourishing right now. Having an ambitious housing plan is a just and logical next step. I'm ready for an exciting 16 years of seeing it through!
Starting a dialogue on the future of urban living in Boston and beyond.