The Olympics are about many things: athleticism; nationalism; internationalism; world peace, even.
They’re also about politics, power, money — and land. If the Olympics are a massive sporting event, it is also, often, a series of major real estate transactions.
With that in mind, NECIR and WGBH are taking a closer look at the nitty gritty details of the plans recently put out, and soon to be updated, by Boston 2024, the private group that has taken on the mantle of designing and promoting a bid to make Boston the host city of the 2024 Summer Olympics — and particularly, what that plan would mean when it comes to the proposed transformation of thousands of acres of Boston land.
In May, Boston 2024 made public a draft of plans to be submitted to the [Olympic Organizing Committee] that included plans for the construction of an Olympic Stadium, an Olympic Athlete’s Village, and an International Broadcast Center — together requiring the assemblage of dozens of parcels of land.
We’ve found a few things so far that haven’t quite percolated to public attention so far — reader more about them below. We’re also hoping our map will help you explore those details for yourselves — and perhaps notice things we haven’t.
Among our own findings:
• At least one parcel of land included in the Olympic Stadium proposal is contaminated and carries restrictions on residential use — a fact that might become relevant to suggestions by Boston 2024 that the area be converted to mixed-use housing after the games.
• Other parcels included in the stadium proposal, including land that has been characterized as unused or under-used, host significant city infrastructure, including the city’s largest vehicle refueling station, a large telecommunications cable network used by the Boston Police Department, and a solar panel array. Whether Boston 2024 would pay for the relocation of those services — and whether or how they could be relocated — are questions that unaddressed in the current proposal.
• While the “Bid Book” put forward by Boston 2024 listed many of the owners of the parcels involved in their proposal, that list left out some interesting players: including the Catholic Church, which owns one piece of land in the Olympic Village area; and the Boston Public Schools, which operate operates an elementary and middle school on land included in the Olympic Village proposal (Boston 2024 says its plans would not affect the schools).
• Some of the land parcels included in the bid appear to be under-valued in official city assessments. One building, valued at $45 million, for example, recently sold for $77 million to Santander Bank. Right next to the proposed stadium, the Boston Flower Market, valued by the city at $12 million, recently considered a bid for $35 million to buy the property. Whether these discrepancies matter isn’t obvious, but raises the question of how the city itself will value public land being sought after by the Olympic committee, and what kind of deal the city — and therefore its taxpayers — would get by selling or giving away that land.