Real Estate

Harbor Towers Trustees: Chiofaro’s Proposal Is Too Big

The following letter and summary comes from the Trustees of Harbor Towers Tower I and II condominiums to the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The letter strongly opposes the Chiofaro Company plan for redevelopment of the Harbor Garage presented at the June 25, 2014, meeting of the Municipal Harbor Planning Advisory Committee.

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In brief summary, the letter says:

Harbor Towers believes that, while there is a great deal of vital information yet unknown about the Chiofaro plan, it is at 1.3 million square feet manifestly too big for this sensitive waterfront site.

Harbor Towers is in favor of reasonably scaled redevelopment of the Garage site. But the community believes this proposal does not honor the basic policies that underlie the Greenway District Guidelines and Chapter 91 regulations.

The Chiofaro Co.’s current proposal is not materially different, in scale and density, from the company’s plan four years ago that was universally considered to be overwhelming for this waterfront site adjacent to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

The recently proposed project is historically and contemporaneously inappropriate in scale, height and density for a location adjacent to two Boston treasures, the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Harbor.

The proposed floor area ratio of about 24 cannot be rationally justified. (Please see attached graphic showing FARs.)

Harbor Towers seriously questions whether what was defined in the presentation as “open space” would qualify under Chap. 91.

Since modern urban planning began here in Boston in the early 1960s, it has been customary and an article of faith that we do not build huge skyscrapers and excessive density on our waterfront; the recent, professionally conducted Greenway District Guidelines, supported by broad public participation, reinforced that principle.

Adding a project of the proposed density to this location would alter the scale of Boston’s waterfront forever. And Harbor Towers is gravely concerned that, if a development as large as this proposal is allowed to go forward on the Harbor Garage site, it will set a precedent for other sites also right on the Harbor’s edge.

The Chiofaro Co. has essentially said: If you want any development of the Garage at all, you must accept this proposal. Harbor Towers believes that the City must not let this become an all-or-nothing proposition. If it is, the Chiofaro proposal should be rejected.

An enormous amount of additional detail is required, and must be publicly presented, before any proposal can be allowed to go through the City’s Article 80 approval process. There are many unanswered questions, including: What are the shapes and designs of the two buildings? How are the two buildings positioned on the site, and what would they look like from various points around the waterfront, Greenway and City? Where exactly would shadows be cast and for how long? What sections and portions of the proposed corridor of “open space” would be covered or closed in permanently or for extended periods?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, Harbor Towers believes the Chiofaro plan is vastly oversized for the site, and it should not be permitted.

Harbor Towers is a two-building community of more than 1,000 people at India Wharf, including individuals, couples, and families with children.

NorthEndWaterfront 2014-07-23 at 12.55.20 PM

3 Replies to “Harbor Towers Trustees: Chiofaro’s Proposal Is Too Big

  1. If anything these help the skyline by adding a couple more buildings on the harbor side of the greenway so there not just two grey boxes out there all alone.

  2. Isn’t it a little ironic that the inhabitants of the tallest, densest residential development on this side of the Greenway are trying to block a tall, dense development next to them? I’m not sure when FAR became an important part of the development process (to me, it looks like a random piece of data only being used to try to scare people about the impact of this development), but why should it decide what the limit of a development should be without context of the parcel & its location? This is a major, mixed use development on one of the most prime pieces of real estate in the city.

    Isn’t it dated to refer to the development plan of the 1960s and how there was supposedly some sort of unspoken agreement that there wouldn’t be tall, dense development on the Waterfront? This sort of development didn’t take place on this side of the waterfront because up until about a decade ago, there was a massive, loud elevated highway directly next door. How do you think an enormous concrete parking garage wound up on this parcel in the first place? And why do you think the Harbor Towers are the only high rises on this side of the Greenway, and why their development is a West-End-by-the-Sea styled property, replete with green lawns and swimming pools fenced off from the public? Because up until recently there was no desire for major development in the area. A final point of irony, the Harbor Tower residents “seriously question what was defined in the presentation as ‘open space’ “.

    I don’t believe we should totally ignore everything the HT residents say…however I think this should almost exclusively be decided between the property owner and the city.

  3. They must own the waterfront, and by the way who approved the Harbor Towers, who approved the Prince building in the North End, who approved all of these tall buildings in the North End and now all of a sudden there’s height restrictions. Would the Harbor Towers get approved today?

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