WS Development taps New York’s High Line architect for new Seaport promenade

Boston Business Journal | By Catherine Carlock
February 3, 2017

Chestnut Hill-based WS Development is perhaps best known for its retail developments. But WS changed the game in fall 2015 when it paid a whopping $359 million for remaining undeveloped land in Boston’s Seaport Square, a 23-acre master-planned development originally spearheaded by Boston Global Investors and Morgan Stanley. WS, which had been the project’s retail partner since 2006, became the master developer for the city’s newest neighborhood.

Since then, WS studied the Seaport— it did, after all, spend $28.5 million per acre for what at the time surface parking lots — bringing on former Colliers International heavy-hitter Yanni Tsipis to lead the process. The company pursued a wholesale rethinking of the Seaport’s public open spaces and streetscape, something that’s been criticized as too cold, drab and full of concrete.

Tsipis on Thursday outlined WS Development’s idea for a new master plan of Seaport Square’s remaining 13 acres, which will eventually feature 10 new buildings and span millions of square feet.

The hallmark of the new master plan is a tree-lined wooden pedestrian promenade, dubbed Harbor Way, that will extend one-third of a mile from Summer Street all the way through to Boston Harbor. Harbor Way is intended to create an unbroken pedestrian park, with a width similar to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, dotted with dozens of retail shops and restaurants. The boardwalk will start with wooden steps at Summer Street, with a grand staircase taking pedestrians down the 24-foot elevation change into the neighborhood.

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