Even the mightiest of projects finds improvement from prettying up those dark corners.
After the additions of apartments, condos and retail to the former Boston Herald headquarters in the South End, the not-quite-finished, six-acre Ink Block development will celebrate the opening of a new urban park called the Underground on Saturday. This weekend’s block party introduces this eight-acre space and public art project in what used to be a freeway underpass.
It’s a nice transformation for the grim city corner, which will now feature vibrant graffiti art murals, plus plenty of trees and plants.
“It was a dark, scary place people wouldn’t want to walk past, let alone go into,” says Ted Tye, managing partner of Ink Block’s developers National Development. “The idea was to make it bright, light and populated.”
But Underground at Ink Block isn’t just a pretty playground; it’s also a useful thoroughfare giving walking or biking access between two hitherto separated neighborhoods.
“It has made the gap between the South End and South Boston smaller, it links two communities,” says Tye. “If someone lives at Ink Block and wants to take the Broadway MBTA stop, they can just walk over there now.
It’s a big thing for the South End and South Boston.”
This Saturday’s block party emphasizes the fun side of the project with a line-up of music, food trucks, a beer garden and lawn games – all to unveil the work of the artists who transformed over 150,000 square feet of blank concrete, including Boston’s own Imagine876, Marka27, Percy Fortini Wright, Problak, Ewok, Thy Doan and Andrew Balboa.
Tye emphasizes the support sports gear company Reebok, which moved its longtime headquarters in Canton into the Seaport District of South Boston, gave to the project.
“This kind of event speaks to their audience,” Tye says. “They were key in helping get it going.”
The project is part of MassDOT's Infra-Space program as well, as MassDot is the owner of the space due to its proximity to the highway. According to Tye, the pogram was designed to “revitalize these under utilized spaces.”
Practical and pretty, Tye believes the park is an immediate enhancement.
“It’s meant to be used as a passageway, but we decided to make it special,” he says. “We want it to be one of the city’s fun places.”
If you go:
Sept. 9, 90 Traveler St., Boston, free, undergroundinkblock.com