The BPDA board is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a plan to turn the long vacant storefronts of the failed Lafayette Mall along Washington Street into office space for the state Department of Industrial Accidents.
The space, now adorned with window posters with odd sayings like "There is no angry way to say bubbles" and "clapping," has been largely empty since at least 2002 - more than five years after the fortress-like mall shut.
Under the plan going before the board tomorrow, the current storefront windows will be turned into office windows and the doors along Washington Street taken out completely - with an entrance to be built on Avenue de Lafayette for the 40,000 square feet the state will lease.
According to a memo to the BPDA board by BPDA planners, the Abbey Group, which now calls the structure Lafayette City Center, has been unable to find any retailers to rent the space in what is still one of New England's largest retail areas, in part because of "a significant grade change" from Avenue de Lafayette up Washington Street towards Winter and Summer streets. According to the BPDA, the state department approached the Abbey Group, looking for space near public transportation.
According to the BPDA, the proposal has the approval of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District: "There were no objections to the conversion of retail space to office use."
The agency held no public hearings on the proposal, after determining the change from retail to office space "does not constitute a fundamental
change" under the development laws under which the initial mall and later uses were allowed.
The BPDA board meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. in the agency's ninth-floor offices in City Hall.