In the summer edition of Commonwealth Magazine, Bruce Mohl pens an article, “Just Plain Ugly,” of the Harbor Garage Redevelopment situation that has led to a standstill between owner/developer, Don Chiofaro, and the City of Boston. Beyond presenting the differing perspectives, the magazine reviewed all the internal correspondence on the subject at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

An image of Boston’s skyline with the 2009 Chiofaro-proposed towers.
An image of Boston’s skyline with the 2009 Chiofaro-proposed towers.

Under the state’s Public Records Law, CommonWealth reviewed all BRA emails and correspondence dealing with the Harbor Garage. Surprisingly, the review found almost nothing of substance. It’s as if BRA officials never discussed the project internally, at least in memos or emails. When Chiofaro and Oatis sent BRA officials letters and emails characterizing their past meetings as positive, the officials never disputed them.

During an interview in his ninth floor corner office at City Hall, Shen sets the record straight. He says Chiofaro uses economic feasibility as a club, saying the garage won’t get redeveloped unless the city lets him do essentially whatever he wants with the site. “They want to turn Boston into Shanghai,” he says, a reference to Pedersen’s design of the Shanghai World Financial Center. “It’s a spectacular building, but it’s not Boston.”

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