Suffolk Downs Can’t Become Another Seaport

Housing, Race and Climate, Racial Justice

Community Groups to the City of Boston: Suffolk Downs Can’t Become Another Seaport

Cities that are diverse and inclusive thrive. That is why development must be carefully planned, to avoid displacing long-time residents and businesses, communities of color, and low-wage workers.

Housing in particular must be affordable to a broad range of families and individuals.

That is why, on behalf of a diverse coalition of community groups, Lawyers for Civil Rights submitted extensive comments to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) outlining legal and equity concerns with the proposed redevelopment of the Suffolk Downs site in East Boston.

Sprawling over two cities and over 100 acres, Suffolk Downs is one of the largest projects in Boston’s history and includes the creation of an entirely new neighborhood that will feature public space, residences, and extensive retail and commercial units.

We do not want East Boston to become another Seaport. The last thing Boston needs is another predominantly affluent space that both fails to reflect the rich diversity of this city, and that lacks basic community amenities.

We are not anti-development. We are pro-growth — smart and equitable growth.

Our work is motivated by contemporary race and class dynamics, and the legacy of housing and economic segregation in Boston. As the city becomes one of the most expensive in North America, our goal is to ensure that it thrives by retaining its vibrant socioeconomic and racial diversity.

Boston can and must do better. We should all pay close attention to Suffolk Downs.

Our comment letter was submitted on behalf of GreenRoots, City Life/Vida Urbana, Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE), MassCOSH, the Center for Cooperative Development and Solidarity, and Stand for Democracy.

Comments from our allies:

John Walkey, the Waterfront Initiative Coordinator with GreenRoots, affirmed that the BPDA’s approval process must be inclusive of all residents. “It is frankly unbelievable that the Suffolk Downs developer, HYM, has been unwilling to translate all of its proposals into Spanish or to provide comprehensive translation at community meetings. East Boston residents should not and cannot be left out,” says Walkey.

Lisa Owens, Executive Director of City Life/Vida Urbana noted that East Boston has seen a drastic uptick in evictions and displacement in recent years. “Nineteen large residential projects have been approved by the BPDA in East Boston alone since 2013,” says Owens. “Suffolk Downs cannot be constructed without appropriate mitigation to protect and preserve this historically working class, immigrant community.”

The letter is available here:

LCR Comment Letter Suffolk Downs