Both city officials and the project's developer have responded to a recent piece in the Boston Globe by journalist Paul McMorrow, in which the CommonWealth associate editor said the proposed 6,000-plus seat stadium was
Mayor Gary Christenson countered that McMorrow had “struck out looking on this one.”
“What McMorrow misses in his analysis is the history and progress of redevelopment of downtown Malden over the past 20 years,” a letter signed by both Christenson and Executive Director Stephen Wishoski reads.
Both the city and developer Alexander Bok balked at McMorrow's characterization of the project as “silver bullet” development, calling the stadium part of a “multipronged overall strategy” that includes bringing disposable income to the city's downtown, adding office workers and attracting niche retail to the square.
“We believe that our proposed ballpark is very good redevelopment use for a contaminated site on which residential development is inappropriate, not the 'regressive use' McMorrow terms it to be,” Bok wrote.
Bok also disputed some of the business projections put forward by McMorrow, saying the projected break-even attendance rate at the park is 50 per cent – about 3,200 seats – not the 77 per cent rate on which McMorrow said the group was counting.
“We see our project as one important piece of the future success story for downtown Malden,” he concluded.
Asked for comment, McMorrow said he "might feel differently about the ballpark" if there "was other serious planning and development work happening in parallel."
"The city's track record to date doesn't indicate that it's serious about encouraging the kind of dense transit-oriented downtown deveopment that's needed to revtialize Malden Center," he continued.
"Over the past six years, Malden issued building permits for 123 multi-family units (per Census, that's in buildings with 5+ units). During that same time, Chelsea built multi-family at 3x the rate Malden did, and Everett built at 4x that rate, despite Malden's obvious advantages -- significant buildable lots with direct subway access."
"There aren't nearly enough people (ed's note: hyperlink was in original text) living downtown to sustain a healthy shopping district. That's why you don't see one. That's a math formula, not an opinion."
What do you think? Is McMorrow's criticism 'striking out looking' or does he have a point?