BPDA Achievements

The Brighton Guest Street Planning Study and New Boston Landing

An athletic shoe company’s world HQ helps an underused area of Brighton leap into the 21st century.

Tucked in the northwest corner of the City, the Guest Street area has served Boston since the 1800s as a stockyard, then railyard, and finally a warehouse and industrial cluster. By 2000 the area saw declining activity, and was characterized by its low buildings, broken sidewalks, and treeless streets. Guest Street lies adjacent to the Mass Pike and the Framingham Commuter Rail Line, and is close to Brighton Center, the Charles River, and Harvard Square in Cambridge. A lack of roadway connections and public transit options had made the area difficult to reach and largely forgotten.

Things began to change in 2007, when WGBH public broadcasting built an iconic headquarters in the district right along the Mass Pike. New Balance Athletic Shoe leased office space nearby. A big box store propsed a large project for the area, but the community rejected it, and asked instead for a comprehensive planning exercise to look at the neighborhood's potential. This budding interest in the underutilized area led the BRA Community Planning Department to initiate the Brighton Guest Street Planning Study. The planning process’s overarching goal was to develop a well-researched planning vision which could both attract and focus new investment in the area.

The BRA Community Planning team along with consultants from Sasaki, a local advisory group, and much community input, the Study resulted in the idea of a “Health and Wellness District” which would transform the Guest Street Area into a livable, accessible, and economically thriving neighborhood. Plan principles included:

  • drafting a vision and urban design framework with general land uses and height and massing areas to transform the area from industrial to a vibrant mixed-use district, with a blend of housing, commercial, retail, and open space,
  • requiring significant open space network, the introduction of new multi-modal streets/connections to access the district as well as service individual developments, and the creation of new pedestrian-friendly urban blocks in order to create attractive frontages for development and create places where former underutilized parking lots existed.  
  • creating “complete streets” and improved pedestrian and bicycle access throughout the district,
  • adding a new commuter rail station along the Framingham Commuter Rail Line to improve area access,
  • and planning for iconic architecture along the Mass Pike to create a visual gateway to Boston.

Shortly after the plan’s publication, New Balance Athletic Shoe stepped forward with a comprehensive development proposal for the area. Already a tenant in nearby office space, New Balance had a clearly articulated vision for Guest Street which included a new world headquarters building, a major athletic facility, hotel space, office space, reconstructed streets, retail, a new commuter rail station, and a significant new public green space. New Balance’s catalyzing commitment to the area has quickly attracted additional private investment, including several housing developments. Vital capital improvements, including reconstructed streets and the Commuter Rail station, will be financed by New Boston Landing LLC (New Balance’s development company) and completed by 2017.  To keep up to date on New Boston Landing and other projects in the Guest Street Planning Study area, check out the Brighton neighborhood page.

Highlights and Achievements

  • 1.4 million square feet of development by New Boston Landing LLC, including an athletic center, hotel, world headquarters, and office space.
  • $500 million private investment in the Guest Street Area by New Boston Landing.
  • 400 full time construction jobs, 600 peak construction jobs, 3,000 permanent new jobs.
  • $40 million investment by New Boston Landing LLC into public infrastructure, including a new Commuter Rail Station, streets, and sidewalks.
  • 2017 estimated full buildout date.

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