Waterfront developments could be key to protecting Boston’s coastline

(iStock, illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)

Could Boston’s waterfront real estate projects be key to protecting the city’s coastline?

Developments along the Mystic River, Fort Point Canal and Dorchester Bay have won city and state approval using designs that help them cope with rising sea levels. sea ​​and storm surges which are expected to become a more serious threat, the The Boston Globe reported. Critics say they are not convinced the projects will be enough to protect the city.

“The water is rising everywhere. We have to plan for this,” said Bud Ris, former CEO of the New England Aquarium and waterfront advocate. “The most essential question is not where to start, but: who is going to pay and who benefits?”

Part of the concern stems from the fact that a project-by-project approach would likely leave large portions of Boston’s coastline unprotected between developments. In addition, many fear that this presents an equity issue and that protection will be prioritized for luxury housing and expensive office developments.

In 2018, researchers at UMass Boston found that building a flood barrier in Boston Harbor wasn’t worth the cost, saying it wouldn’t be finished until 2050 or it wouldn’t be. able to protect against flooding at high tide. In light of the findings, the researchers urged public officials to focus on more immediate and natural solutions.

In response, the Boston Planning & Development Authority raised the required minimum base elevation to nearly 22 feet above the low tide mark and secured $10 million to help fund a $20 million berm along the east side of Fort Point Channel.

The city is also working to secure waterfront parks like Moakley Park in South Boston, which is set to undergo a $250 million overhaul over the next 10 years. Next door, Accordia Partners is planning a six million square foot development that will also feature a new stormwater management system.

“The private sector is not only going to be part of the solution, it’s going to drive the solution,” said Accordia Director Dick Galvin.

Deanna Moran of the Conservation Law Foundation said she would prefer more city funding for broader efforts because new projects can stall.

“I get nervous that we see redevelopment as the main source of funding for climate resilience,” Moran said.

[BG] —Victoria Pruitt

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