Ready for the Rush:Encore Boston Harbor Looks at Zoning Change for Temporary Parking

Encore Boston Harbor will appear before the Planning Board on Monday, July 23, to propose a zoning change

Encore Boston Harbor is looking to petition the Planning Board to allow this property on Lower Broadway to be refurbished and turned into temporary parking while the company goes through permitting for a new, complimenting hotel on the site.

allowing parking for up to three years on the opposite side of Broadway from their site – a condition they hope will be allowed while they plan and permit another large hotel development to compliment the resort casino.

“It’s no secret that there will be some re-development on that site across the street,” said John Tocco of Encore, referring to the area that now hosts construction parking. “We’re looking at something very similar to the amenities at the site but without the casino – more retail, more meeting space, more hotel rooms and potentially more entertainment space. In the meantime, we’d like to look at other ways to activate that land. As any property owner would do, we’re looking for ways to position it while its going through the re-development process.”

That way being proposed to the Planning Board is to change the zoning in the Lower Broadway area to allow parking for up to 36 months. The zoning change would sunset so that it isn’t a permanent situation, he said.

Tocco said there are two ways to handle the property across the street – which he stressed is separate and apart from the resort casino site. He said a developer can fence off the property like at Market Forge on the Parkway and wait while they go through the permitting stages. Or, he said, they can look to clean it up, provide a temporary use and then retire that use when the development is ready to come online. That, he said, was the case when Boston developed the Seaport area from parking lots to buildings.

In this case, they believe that there will be a large demand for parking in the first six months after the casino opening, the usual rush of something new, Tocco said.

“What we hope to do is clean up the site, put in some lush landscaping and continue that Boulevard feel,” he said. “The site has served us well as a temporary parking facility for construction workers and we think it would serve the community well as another parking option for the community to go check out the HarborWalk or the site. We know in the first six months or so when the rush is on, it will be good to have more opportunities to park in places that are not in front of people’s houses, people’s businesses, or just driving around aimlessly looking for parking.”

They would be looking for around 850 parking spaces, and a 100-space lot on Robin Street for ride-share vehicles to pool. Tocco stressed that the condition would be for only 36 months.

“The proposal would be only up to 36 months,” he said. “We may not even need that much time, and if the development is ready to go before that, that would be great. Everyone, including us, wants to make sure this property is re-developed. It’s not ideal, but it’s a good temporary use of the property.”

Any development there, he said, would be 500-plus rooms and amenities. He said the new development would require going through the state environmental (MEPA) process, which they expect to take some time.

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