Community Health & Environment Real Estate

State Environmental Secretary Opposes Chiofaro’s Harbor Garage Redevelopment

In a strongly worded decision letter, Secretary Ian Bowles of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, has ruled against Don Chiofaro’s tower proposal for the current site occupied by the Harbor Garage by the Aquarium. Click here to read the 20 page decision letter (pdf).

Chiofaro Proposed Design for Harbor Garage Site - Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects
Chiofaro Proposed Design for Harbor Garage Site – Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects

The Boston Globe summarizes the State agency’s denial in this article with the following:

“The proposed project is at such wide variance from the applicable state and local permitting requirements currently in force that it simply cannot be constructed as currently designed,’’ Bowles wrote. “In order to progress through the environmental process in a timely fashion the proponent will have to submit a dramatically different proposal.’’

The letter by Secretary Bowles indicates that the developer has two options: (1) pursue a design in keeping with current zoning and Chapter 91 provisions, or (2) wait until the City finishes its Greenway District Planning Study which may change the zoning requirements for this site.

In the article, developer Don Chiofaro said he intends to revise his proposal somewhat to gain approval, however, significant zoning relief would still be required from the 125 foot height limit and the Chapter 91’s 50% open space requirement. Regarding the latter, Chiofaro included a promenade lobby as open space, an assertion discarded by the State’s Environmental Secretary. has also posted a photo gallery of Chiofaro’s proposed development for Harbor Garage, including photos from a promotional event on the Greenway. I am quite surprised to see Greenway Conservancy officials dancing at the event as well as photo ops with members of The Boston Harbor Association.