Open Space and Resiliency Improvements Galore at 425 Medford Street

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

The Flatley Company held its first of three meetings scheduled over the next few months on Wednesday, Oct. 26, to discuss open spaces and resiliency at its proposed 25.5-acre development at 425 Medford Street, the site of the old Domino Sugar Refinery.

Wednesday’s meeting illustrated that the development at 425 Medford Street could be the final piece to the puzzle in creating a public-friendly waterfront and an area that will be resilient against the impending effects of climate change.

If development at 425 Medford Street occurs, it will join two other Flatley-owned properties, the Schrafft’s City Center and 465 Medford Street, combining to cover 46 acres across the waterfront.

Before members of the development team went over some of the vast proposed improvements to open spaces and resiliency measures, the Flatley Company’s CEO, John Roche, indicated that the team wants this development to be something to be proud of.

“The Flatley Company has been a member of the Charlestown community for almost four decades and is looking forward to many more. Our families have roots in the community – I have two children that live in Charlestown, and Dan Flatley has two as well,” said Roche.

“We want our children to be proud of our proposed development to enjoy the many community amenities it will offer. Unlike others, we are not developers who are assembling parcels of land to permit and then flip.”

The project’s focus in terms of open space is making the Mystic Waterfront the primary attraction, connecting people to the waterfront, and highlighting the Medford Street Greenway.

With that focus in mind, all building, programming, and design have been “Geared towards creating what we like to think of as a living Charlestown neighborhood. Not an office park, not something that’s a campus but something that really feels like an extension of the neighborhood,” said Sanjukta Sen, one of the landscape architects.

Some of the improvements to ensure better access to the area include a railroad ramble and community path. The design in the ramble area includes paths for bikes and pet-friendly areas while keeping the current character with the rails already there.

Along with the path, there will also be various ways, each with its own mix of access for vehicles, pedestrians, or a combination of both. These ways would also be fully renovated with things like trees for shade, seating, and even eye-catching art.

Ample access to the proposed development would then offer several programs at places on the waterfront and beyond. Some proposed programs and amenities include a perched beach, kayaking, nature trails, flexible play areas, and courts.

Although the development could provide significant activities and open space, the project also emphasizes resiliency against climate change. For example, 95% of the site will be elevated above the highest astronomical tide predicted in 2070 to combat rising sea levels.

The project will include resilience measures such as stormwater retention, rainwater capture and reuse, and vegetated management for rain events. There will also be natural measures, such as using over 400 new trees and stormwater gardens to manage stormwater runoff.

Finally, a berm will be used as an integrated flood protection tool. Overall, there were even more measures in the proposal to make the development and surrounding area as resilient as possible.

While there were undoubtedly some questions regarding aspects of the project, such as design and transportation, which will be covered in subsequent meetings – attendees seemed to like the proposal, specifically about open space and resiliency.

“I am very excited about your project. It looks very intriguing and looks like it is going to have a lot of community benefits,” said Charlestown resident Dave Goggins.

Nora Blake, a Friends of Doherty Park member, echoed Goggins’ sentiment. “This is very exciting. I am really excited to see all the stuff you are doing with resiliency,” said Blake.

As the community conversations process of the project moves on, the next meeting is scheduled for this month and will discuss design and programming.

“We recognize that we are proposing a substantial development and therefore believe that it is our obligation to deliver with substantial community benefits,” said Roche.

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