June 5, 2015 update: See new revised filing for the Lewis Wharf project.
North End / Waterfront residents in and around Lewis Wharf Condominiums came ready to fight at Tuesday night’s Neighborhood Council meeting armed with petitions, picket signs, handouts and more people than could fit in the Nazzaro Community Center. At issue are plans for a new hotel development at the end of Lewis Wharf. To the surprise of many, however, the developer withdrew from the meeting. Instead, representative Attorney Daniel Toscano said his client is going to “reassess the project taking into consideration the concerns of abutters.” No formal plans have been filed with city officials. Toscano said the developer would like to work with residents but, “at this point, I don’t see much traction for the current proposal.”
JW Capital Partners and John Moriarty Associates have proposed two buildings extending beyond the sides of the existing Lewis Wharf granite building. The development would be built into Boston Harbor over what is today a piling field, sailing club and parking lot. The new buildings would include a 120-130 room hotel with 30-40 residential units at 55 feet high (before roof equipment) connected with a commercial / restaurant property.
The plan calls for the current parking lot at Lewis Wharf to be made into a park with an underground 300-space parking garage. The existing lot and much of the property under consideration is currently owned by DeNormadie Companies. JW Capital Partners also recently purchased the 3 story building at One Lewis Wharf (Rosebud Building).
The Lewis Wharf property sits on harbor tidelands, subject to Chapter 91 State requirements. In addition, according to a handout by opposing residents, “title to the land under the pilings at the end of Lewis Wharf was conveyed by a grant of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1832 to the Lewis Wharf Company. The grant was specifically made subject to a “public trust” and to be used for a “public purpose.” The literature refers to case law from 1979 where the Supreme Judicial Court addressed this specific land ruling that any development be for “marine commerce or a public purpose.” Such legal rulings and State requirements have made it difficult to build on Boston’s waterfront without community support.
Doug Sheffe of the nearby Prince Building said the willingness of the developer to reconsider the project was “music to our ears.” However, he asked for something more concrete from the developer that the proposal is “off the table.” The group has been circulating an online petition to “Save the North End Waterfront.”
View the complete discussion in the video below, taped at the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) meeting on October 6, 2014. The presentation was for informational purposes only and no vote was taken by the Council.