There are two schools of thought when it comes to the Seaport District in Boston. One is perfectly captured in a recent Boston Globe headline “Some residents worry Seaport will lack neighborhood feel.” The other is more optimistic and patient when it comes to Seaport’s potential.
The debate about the Seaport District always makes me laugh a little bit. The Seaport is transforming into a neighborhood, but it will take time. I recently heard an industry expert sum up the situation nicely: Buildings are still being built and tenants are still moving in, so that’s why the Seaport may not be a true “neighborhood” yet, but it when it is completed we will all be pleasantly surprised with its appeal. I found this statement so obvious and so true. It’s hard to believe people can’t see the potential of this area.
Almost weekly, there is another series of exciting retail updates. CVS, Chipotle and Yoki, Shake Shack and Tuscan Kitchen are all coming to Seaport Boulevard (according to Eater Boston and The Boston Globe).
Some may say well yes, that’s true, that what about supermarkets and schools? It’s no question that those two items are important to young families, but there are other factors and different age groups that find Seaport exciting and attractive as it is now and are optimistic about what’s to come.
As a millennial, I see our demographic is getting a lot of attention from the real estate industry. ULI and NAIOP have both hosted local panels trying to unlock what we want. The City of Boston launched ONEin3 Boston to engage Bostonians between 20–34 years old so see what they want from their city.
The reality is most of us flock to Seaport on the weekends to go to the city’s best restaurants and bars. Those that crave a modern and luxurious lifestyle also want to live there and are willing to budget and make choices to make their housing situation work. (Current residents may explore getting groceries delivered right to their door through various services like Peapod; I just learned Walmart delivers too.) If you look around the city, rents for historic Beacon Hill and North End apartments aren’t drastically far off from those found in the Seaport, however they do offer better access to supermarket and schools. Right now, the Seaport may appeal to more of a millennial audience, but that doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to a mass audience in a few more years – we just need to be a little more patient as it evolves.
Cut Seaport some slack. In a few years, it will certainly be a neighborhood. Just one that may be different than what Boston is used to.