New pocket parks and public open spaces … expanded Harborwalk … renovated Aquarium plaza … ferry terminal … upgraded public access … the game of trade-offs is afoot in a package of “offsets” to the major developments proposed in the latest draft of the Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative.
The end is in sight for the multi-year planning process that will form a framework for the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP) and zoning in the waterfront area from Long Wharf to the Moakley Bridge. The Downtown waterfront abuts the Rose Kennedy Greenway connecting the North End neighborhood to the Fort Point Channel.
Within the coverage area, three key parcels are set for development: Harbor Garage, Hook Wharf and Long Wharf (around the Marriott Hotel). The latest draft of the MHP contains recommended offsets and mitigations for each of the developments that are designed to comply with State Chapter 91 requirements.
Replacing the existing 70-foot high parking garage, the Harbor Garage site is proposed to have a new structure up to 600 feet tall with 30% of lot coverage as public open space.
The height and massing of the BRA recommendation for the Harbor Garage continue to garner significant criticism from the abutting New England Aquarium and Harbor Tower residents, among others. (Harbor Garage comment letters can be viewed here.)
For his part, Don Chiofaro said he will move forward within the proposed guidelines with a $1 billion-plus tower development. The 900,000 square foot requirement is smaller than the 1.3 million sq. ft. plan originally proposed by the owners (Chiofaro Company and Prudential) that included an open-roof garden/activity area in the center of two towers.
Offsets and mitigation required by the MHP for the Harbor Garage development are estimated at $18.5 million. Specific requirements include:
(1) Conversion of Chart House Parking Lot to public open space (estimated cost $3.8 million)
(2) Renovation of Old Atlantic Avenue for public open space (est. cost $3.2 million)
(3) Central Wharf renovation using plans by the New England Aquarium for public open space (est. cost $7.0 million)
(4) Renovation of BRA property between the harbor and existing garage site into public open space (est. cost $4.3 million)
(5) $250,000 funding for City of Boston design and use standards
Marriott Long Wharf
The draft MHP proposes 18,000 sq. ft. of new ground floor interior area space to activate the north side of Long Wharf. Offset requirements of the MHP include:
(1) interior and exterior improvements to the pedestrian walkway through the center of the Marriott Long Wharf making it clear that it is a public way by minimizing impediments to the general public’s passage, use or access;
(2) water transportation / ferry waiting room and ticket office of 500+ sq. ft. for year-round use.
Hook Wharf (440 Atlantic Avenue)
The temporary home of the James Hook Lobster Company is proposed to have a new 305 foot high new building with 30% public open space on the lot. Offset requirements of the MHP include:
(1) The creation of an interior and exterior dedicated public space for water-dependent uses on the ground floor with a deeded restriction;
(2) The removal of the adjacent MBTA pump house and pilings in the Fort Point Channel and the replacement of an equivalent area of pile-supported deck to enhance the Harborwalk area and connections along the Fort Point Channel and parallel to the Moakley Bridge; and
(3) An over-the-water, fully accessible Harborwalk connection between the project site and 470/500 Atlantic Avenue.
Correction: This post was changed to replace the image above of the Harbor Garage project with a 900,000 sq. ft. rendering, rather than 1.3 million sq. ft. as originally displayed.