The BRA, with the help of the Municipal Harbour Plan Advisory Committee, responded at a November 5th public meeting to the proposed 305 feet, 22 stories, residential tower on the site owned by James Hook & Co. on Northern Avenue.
William Zielinski, the principal partner at SKW Partners Inc, had introduced the design during a previous meeting and the BRA commented on their proposal during the discussion. While it was understood that the Elkus Manfredi designed building will not meet the strict waterfront guidelines, the Chapter 91 draft will allow for substitute provisions. Developers will be able to “offset” the violations. It is up to the committee to recommend the how and the how much.
While the Hook site is the most modest amongst the currently proposed projects on the waterfront, in terms of the violations it still has to make up for them in some other way. In its proposed form, it is double the height of the allowed on the waterfront. The building’s footprint is also about 2/3 of the property, which is in violation of the rule of 50% open space and 50% building space.
Officials from the BRA recommended some offsets, that Hook and the developer might be able to provide, to get their final proposal approved by the zoning board.
Both the advisory committee and the BRA officials were eager to extend the Harborwalk and provide continuous connection from the Rowes Wharf to the Intercontinental, without crossing any streets. They proposed several options, one which would bring the pedestrians and bikers on the Harborwalk underneath the two bridges. However, this version has several questions that will not be answered in the near term. The reopening of the Northern Aveue Bridge, whenever it might happen, will determine the feasibility of this option.
The BRA also produced a version where a pedestrian bridge with elevator access would provide the connection over the Evelyn Moakley Bridge. Hook has already designed a narrow extension next to their site but the BRA today recommended to widen it, to make up for the open space the area will be loosing when the building is finished. Both the developers and the committee were encouraged to come up with new ideas and recommendations.
The committee was concerned that the offsets are either too specific per project or they do not apply equally to the other projects (Harbor Garage and the Marriott Long Wharf) proposed on the waterfront. Also concerns were raised that since the offsets can be anything, the local residents might be able to receive benefits as an offset for some of the changes that require substitute provisions. More input from the committee and the public is needed to fully complete the draft plan.
Three more public meetings left, after which the BRA will draw up a “Draft Plan” which will be submitted to the state for consideration. The next meeting will host Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett, who will be answering questions and will be listening to comments.
The BRA continues to hold public meetings regarding the Municipal Harbour Plan project. The next meeting will be on November 19, 3pm, Atlantic Wharf, 2nd Fl. and it is open to the public. Schedule and other information can be found at the www.downtownwaterfrontplanning.org website and the presentation can be found on the BRA’s website for the MHP project here.