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The Rose Kenedy Greenways parcel 12 was once slated to be a museum about Boston, a plan that stalled during the Great Recession. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Two Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway parcels that largely have remained blank slates since completion of the Big Dig await their next act.

Officials are asking for ideas that can turn them from neglected patches of downtown real estate into public gathering spots.

Parcel 2 sits at the corner of Valenti Way and North Washington Street, and it comes with a budget of up to $600,000 for designs and construction of a public park. Developers of three nearby properties – The Hub on Causeway, The Beverly and a planned boutique hotel at 88 North Washington St. – committed the funds as part of their community benefits during Boston Planning and Development Agency permitting.

Parcel 12 is located three blocks south, but its financial position is less secure, without a developer benefactor. It was originally considered as the site for a Boston history museum, but permanent development has been delayed by site constraints. An Interstate 93 tunnel exit cuts through the site, which lacks power and electric service. Long-term plans would cover the parcel and ramp with a deck, subject to MassDOT designs and funding.

In the meantime, the Greenway Conservancy is seeking ideas to bring more visitors to a portion of the site, a 8,500-square-foot crescent of grass opposite the Dock Square Garage. The conservancy is looking for “big-picture, never-been-offered-in-Boston-before” ideas to occupy the parcel from 2020 to 2023.

Specifically: don’t even think about food trucks or beer gardens. But the group is open to ideas similar to last year’s temporary zipline service, in which operators charge admission and share revenues with the conservancy. The current “light touch” activation, an art installation by Julie Libersat called “Roadworks,” will be dismantled this fall.

“It’s an incredibly centrally located piece of land in our city, and it has its challenges,” said Jesse Brackenbury, executive director of the Greenway Conservancy. “It also has incredible potential to be a great public space.”

The conservancy has suggested ideas such as climbing walls, an outdoor escape room and even shared work space as it seeks responses, which are due on Sept. 16.

The future of Parcel 2 as a permanent public park is a bit more straightforward. The 5,000-square-foot triangle was recently used for construction staging during construction of The Beverly workforce housing project and its hotel component, the Courtyard by Marriott. Now the BPDA and conservancy are kicking off an eight-month design process, starting with a community meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Courtyard by Marriott. A follow-up design workshop will be scheduled in early September.

Twitterati also can share their ideas using the hashtag #GreenwayP2.

The BPDA selected Cambridge-based Ask Design/Build Inc. as design consultant from a field of eight respondents. The conservancy will be responsible for hiring the contractor and overseeing construction, said Lauren Shurtleff, the BPDA’s acting director of planning.

“The ramp parcels are going to require a significant public investment to activate,” Shurtleff said. “[Parcel 2] is the last one that’s an easier one.”

This report has been updated to correct the budget for parcel 2’s design and construction.

A Tale of Two Greenway Parcels

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min
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