Thoughtful Placemaking: Key Takeaways from NAIOP’s “Unicorns of Development”


As Boston development surges, developers and urban planners are implementing strategic placemaking strategies aimed at connecting people within the areas they share. We recently attended NAIOP’s “Development Unicorns: Neighborhood Game Changers” event to hear some of Boston’s leading developers discuss the rapid and transformative evolutions of three Boston neighborhoods. Here are some key takeaways from the conversations about the unique placemaking techniques being carried out within the Fenway/Kenmore neighborhood, Assembly Row, and the Seaport District:


Diversifying uses while maintaining historic identity.

Home to one of America’s most iconic ballparks, Fenway’s developers have focused on diversifying the uses of the neighborhood while preserving its historic roots, implementing unique placemaking strategies that bolster appeal for pedestrians and reinforce its status as a cultural hub. No longer exclusively defined by its athletic landmarks, developers are tapping into Fenway’s artistic past to create a refreshed, dynamic identity. By inserting an eclectic mix of retail and dining selections, introducing engaging public spaces and art installations, and building new residential options, there is a fresh vibrancy coming to the  Fenway-Kenmore area.

Assembly Row

Utilizing the existing infrastructure to build for proximity and flexibility.

Modern Bostonians are increasingly prioritizing convenience and ease of access to the city’s urban core when selecting their residential options. As professionals leave the suburbs for neighborhoods closer to downtown, Assembly Row planners have taken advantage of Somerville’s existing infrastructure to deliver truly transit-oriented developments, such as Crescent Group’s Xmbly and Greystar’s Montaje. By revitalizing the MBTA stations in place within the region, and then delivering top-of-the-line luxury residences in the immediate area, Federal Realty is providing multiple options for commuters that connect the neighborhood with the heart of Boston and beyond.

Seaport District

Connecting people and ideas through shared spaces to live, work, and play.

From the earliest stages in planning, a central goal for the development of the Seaport District has been creating engaging shared social spaces for people to connect, share ideas and build a community. Mixed-use developments like One Seaport – which supplies more than 250,000 SF of tenant space to the Seaport’s retail corridor – house a variety of avant-garde retail options that embody the ultramodern energy of the district. Central green spaces, collaborative office buildings, and lifestyle-branded residences imbue the bustling neighborhood with a strong sense of togetherness and community harmony.

 Boston is in a constant state of change, and we’re excited to see how placemakers adapt urban planning to support the city’s continuous evolution. 

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