Last night, the third public meeting on development around the Greenway introduced controversy on many fronts, but the most provocative issue surrounds the Harbor Garage Redevelopment. As part of the Greenway District Planning Study, the BRA (Boston Redevelopment Authority) presented six scenarios for the existing garage space, in order from low scale to very dense.
Scenario 1 – Build over the existing garage by 4 stories to match the height of nearby 255 State Street which sits across from Fidelity Park. This scenario includes an improvement of the existing garage façade. The BRA considers this a low-scale option that does not remove the garage nor improve access to the water from the Greenway.
Scenario 2 – One 20-story tower, primarily residential or hotel, also built over the garage bringing the structure to the height of nearby Rowes Wharf.
Scenario 3 – Two 20-story towers, also on top/around the existing garage, with an up/down stepping of building heights on the property to follow the logic and reach the overall height of Rowes Wharf.
Scenario 4 – Remove the garage completely, open up the site and connect the water to the Greenway with a “skewed” 200ft building similar in height to Rowes Wharf. There would be a corner space with a new pavilion on the aquarium side. Uses would include residential or hotel.
Scenario 5 – Two towers of varying heights, one at 200ft (Rowes Wharf height) and the other at 400ft (approximating Harbor Towers). There would be a new street between the narrow buildings to connect the water to the Greenway. The larger tower would be on the Aquarium side with the smaller tower closer to Harbor Towers.
Scenario 6 – Most intense option is to build two 400ft towers with a gap between them connecting the water to Greenway. This is the most similar to the Chiofaro proposal, but well below that project’s proposed height of 700 ft.
The BRA indicated it was not ready to recommend a scenario at this point, but is looking for a new development to match the surrounding structures and connect the Greenway to the water.
About 125 people attended the meeting at City Hall which went well over 2 hours. The BRA indicated that this discussion was only one of four pieces needed to as part of the overall study. The other three pieces are Environmental (shadows, parking), Transportation and Economic Feasibility.
Many residents from Harbor Towers spoke up at the meeting and appeared complimentary that several options were under consideration, rather than just the one high-rise Chiofaro proposal that has dominated the news. International Place developer Chiofaro hosted a well-attended meeting two weeks ago to present his large scale project that would bring the 3rd largest tower in Boston to the Harbor Garage site. Neighborhood residents were also outspoken indicating their desire for more open space and a better living experience to avoid a canyon effect.
Labor unions and supporters of Chiofaro’s project were also in attendance at the Greenway meeting. These groups advocated bringing jobs and commercial activity to the area. Don Chiofaro, Jr. commented that he was having problems leasing space at International Place because there was not enough foot traffic in the Greenway space. Owners from AuBonPain also commented they support the Chiofaro proposal.
Overall, the meeting had something for everyone to love and hate given the scale of options on the table. Although the Harbor Garage project was the most discussed subject, there was much more presented in this 3rd of 5 public meetings for this study. Come back to NorthEndWaterfront.com for more discussion about the Greenway districts in the near future.
Slides for this meeting are available online on the GDPS page of the BRA’s website (under meeting #3).