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Ticket vendor fights 'Times Square' plan

Developers want him to relocate his trailer

By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff  |  March 21, 2005

As sometimes happens in urban development, a street vendor stood in the way of plans for wide new streets at the gateway to Boston's Theater District back in 1981. So the city cut him a deal. Angelo Sena could go on selling theater tickets from his kiosk if he did it across the street, on a vacant lot he leased from the city for cheap.

Twenty-four years later, planners are now faced with the uncomfortable task of moving Sena out of the way of development again. This time, the city wants to build the ''Times Square of Boston," envisioned with towering lighted billboards and searchlights glazing the sky. Sena, paying a fraction of market rates to lease the lot the city offered him a quarter century ago, is right in the middle of it.

The Hub Ticket Agency owner, who now sells from a trailer, has hired a lawyer and said he is fighting the development. He hinted that he might be appeased by a spot in a new building planned for the location, at the corner of Stuart and Tremont streets. But development proposals being considered for the site mention only competing ticket vendors, including BosTix and Clear Channel Entertainment. So far, nobody is willing to budge.

''We've been here for 35 years," lamented Sena, who, after calling his lawyer, refused to say anything else. ''We want to stay."

Officials at the Boston Redevelopment Authority say the trailer will have to go. They say the prime corner where it sits was always designated for development. Hub Ticket pays $781 a month for a sliver of real estate that brokers say would lease for about $15,000 a month at market rates.

...

Propped on a wall in Collings's ninth-floor City Hall office is a large posterboard depicting Boston's Theater District in the 1950s, when huge, colorful signs for RKO Keith Memorial, the Paramount, and the Modern theaters competed for attention along Washington Street. Collings is spearheading the agency's consideration of two proposals for Sena's corner that he said would bring excitement and restore ''visual importance" to the district.

The BRA has called for a building up to seven stories tall on the site, nestled next to the Wilbur Theatre. One plan under consideration, submitted by Boylston Development Corp., proposes a six-story, glass building with a 48-foot-tall billboard, housing restaurants, shops, and offices. The other plan, fielded by Amherst Media Investors based in New Jersey, proposes a three-story, glass building with a two-story-high, wraparound video display and an electronic ticker serving up news and information to passersby. A third plan, which proposed a 13-story condominium and retail building, was ruled out as too high for the site. The agency plans to decide on a proposal in the next 30 to 60 days.

...

Continue reading at: Boston.com.

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Good idea, but it'll never be Times Square. I am kind of disappointed that they ruled 13 stories as too high. I would love to see something like this plan come to fruition, but to make it work better, there needs to be a more comprehensive effort involving more players than they have now. It seems like too small a venture at this point to make an immediate impact, but given time this could work well.

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It would be great if they did it right, but then NYC would just claim Boston was trying real hard to be NY....

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Piccadilly Circus is a better comparison, being just one corner covered in ads.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, I was thinking the same thing, and it's not highrise like Times Square is either.

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So why the Times Square comparison?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Because it's in the United States and nothing outside the United States matters, didn't you know that?! :lol:

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Tokyo has its own stuff too:

tokyo_nons.jpg

tokyo%20lights.jpg

Can anyone find similar scenes from other cities? I don't feel like Boston is copying NY if these sensory-overloading concentrations of ads are all over the world.

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I don't feel like Boston is copying NY if these sensory-overloading concentrations of ads are all over the world.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well to be fair, New York was the first city to have a lighted advertisment district like this, so in a way, everyone is copying Times Square. Times Square is even a historic district and the signs are protected by a state law that mandates a minimum amount of lighted signs in the square. The square currently greatly excedes that minimum requirement.

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I think Toronto has a version of the Times Square thing in their downtown as well. Also many cities in East Asia like Shanghi and Taipei have the neon sign thing going as well.

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Not to be negative, but Boston will never have anything as vibrant as Times Square until it decides to be up and running beyond 2am. The place is just way too dead late at night.

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Not to be negative, but Boston will never have anything as vibrant as Times Square until it decides to be up and running beyond 2am. The place is just way too dead late at night.

This is definitely true. Menino claims that 2am has worked and will continue to work. This is absurd. If 2am is working as a closing time, how is it that Boston, possibly the most major college town in the world, has the reputation of a weak nightlife? If bar hours were extended to 4, at least in commercial districts, the city would be not only more interesting and glamourous, it would be safer. An admittedly subjective example would be the safety that one now feels crossing the common at night when the frogpond skating rink is open. It did not feel that way. The influx of skating pleasure-seekers turned a forbidding space of creeps and shadows into a realm of light and cheer. The 8pm common is not what it once was and the 330am downtown does not have to be what it is today. How would people get home safely? Have the bars subsidize late-night public transit, or better yet simply raise the cost of a T ride after 1230. Double it, triple it, it's still cheaper than a cab.

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The early closing times just shift the activity to private house parties which are unregulated, and untaxed. At the very least, the state would be cashing in on the sales tax with the later hours. These house parties also move the noise and disruption of rowdy bar people away from the business/entertainment districts where they belong, and into residential areas.

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