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Video: June 25, 2014 meeting on Harbor Garage site hosted by the Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Planning Advisory Committee, including Chiofaro Company’s presentation for redevelopment. Acting committee chair for this meeting was Vivien Li, President of The Boston Harbor Association.

Meeting Video Timeline
00:00 Introduction by Richard McGuinness, Boston Redevelopment Authority
02:00 Chapter 91 Framework for the Harbor Garage site by consultant, Tom Skinner
20:00 Presentation by the Chiofaro Company for redevelopment of Harbor Garage site
1:00:00 Questions and Comments


Developer Don Chiofaro along with partner Ted Otis and the team from the Chiofaro Company presented a grand scale redevelopment of the Harbor Garage with two towers up to 600 feet high including 1.3 million square feet of space for offices, hotel and condominium uses. The estimated $1 billion project will take about 3 years to construct, according to the developer who also built International Place across the Greenway.

Preliminary plans were shared for the first time on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at the Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Planning Advisory Committee. The committee is advising the Boston Redevelopment Authority and City of Boston on new zoning requirements for the Greenway District along the waterfront.

In 2010, the BRA’s Greenway District Planning Study set a 200 foot height limit at the Harbor Garage parcel. The new zoning requirements being created by the committee with the BRA are expected to be based on the GDPS, setting the stage for a potential conflict with City Hall. However, new Mayor Marty Walsh has conveyed that he is not tied by the previous Greenway guidelines that previously created a major rift between Mayor Thomas Menino and developer Chiofaro. The 600 feet is the highest that will be allowed by the Federal Aviation Authority due to airplane traffic from Logan Airport. The planned height is lower than the 780 feet previously proposed in 2010.

Features of the new development would include a center Harbor Square – a 70-foot wide open, public space with a retractable roof. The square would connect the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway and Boston Harbor while allowing for gardens and seasonal uses, such as ice skating.

Reactions from the large audience were mixed, pro and con, toward the early plans. Many commended the proposed architecture with angled ground floor site views. Interestingly, there were no renderings showing the full height of the buildings or the impact on Boston’s skyline. Instead, the views (copied below from the slideshow), show the ground space and amenities of the open square between the buildings. In answer to questions, the development team said they are open to specifics on site views and building angles. They also said the exact shape of the building tops has not been determined.

A recurring theme at these community meetings has been traffic gridlock that already occurs on Atlantic Avenue and the Seaport District. Many abutters from Harbor Towers expressed these concerns among general density issues. An underground garage, 70 feet down, would replace the existing garage spaces, although it was emphasized that no new parking spaces would be created beyond that.

The next community meeting on this development and other waterfront planning issues is scheduled for July 23, 2014, 2:30 p.m. at Atlantic Wharf, 290 Congress Street. (Please note the new time for this meeting.)

Renderings of the Harbor Garage redevelopment are shown below, courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.

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