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Lewis Wharf Hotel Cannot be Built Over Submerged Pilings, Says State in Final Ruling

Lewis Wharf Southside at High Tide (Save Our North End Waterfront image)

Prospects of a proposed Lewis Wharf Hotel project that juts into the harbor were dashed on Wednesday when the State’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued its final ruling prohibiting building over pilings or piers that are below water at high tide. Following up on its preliminary ruling last September, the DEP said,

The Department’s review of the proposal, and the information gathered regarding the current status of the pile field at the site, shows a substantially reduced project shoreline.

Rendering of hotel proposal at Lewis Wharf (JW Capital Partners image)

JW Capital Partners and John Moriarty & Associates have proposed a 277 key, 5-story, multi-building hotel at the end of Lewis Wharf. The designation of the piling field on which the project is proposed to be built has been questioned since the proposal emerged in 2015.

Aerial of existing property at Lewis Wharf with marked project borders (Image from PNF)

Most of the pilings at Lewis Wharf are not visible at high tide, which drastically reduces the size and scope of the proposed hotel build area. The developer owns 2.4 sq. acres on land at Lewis Wharf, but the original project included an additional 1.6 acres over the piling field subject to the DEP ruling.

The decision is a win for the “Save Our North End Waterfront” group who gained community support for the ruling that would effectively stop the hotel project. SONEW has argued for a smaller scale, water-dependent project to go in the space at the end of Lewis Wharf.

“We’re thrilled with the Department of Environmental Protection’s decision because it sends the developer and his ill-conceived project for our neighborhood back to the drawing board. The DEP’s findings make clear that the Lewis Wharf site is not appropriate for a massive luxury hotel but rather a marina and park as the neighborhood has long supported,” said Cathy McDonnell, Save Our North End Waterfront leader and North End resident.

Notably, the DEP ruling does not impact what the property owner can do on the parking lot or other surrounding land areas.

Lewis Wharf Northside at High Tide (Save Our North End Waterfront image)

After multiple inspections, on land and water, the DEP essentially confirmed its prior ruling, but made it clear this ruling is not necessarily a precedent for other proposed projects. Rather, the DEP will examine each project individually.

The complete ruling issued on June 7, 2017 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is shown below.