Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent an enforcement notice to the Intercontinental Hotel at 500 Atlantic Avenue to keep its Harborwalk and lawn areas open to the public. The rare action came in response to a July 11th letter by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) among other persistent complaints about the privatization of the space.

Under its Chapter 91, State Waterways License, the Intercontinental is required to provide 24/7 public space along the Fort Point Channel side of its property, including the walkway and lawn areas. Over the years, the hotel has incrementally cordoned off parts of the public area with planters, ropes and signs. Most blatantly, the hotel regularly rents out the space for private events, charging as much as $2,000 for four hours, according to a CLF blog post.

After receiving the CLF complaint, Mass. DEP issued an enforcement notice to Extell Boston Harbor LLC, the licensee at the Intercontinental site, to restore 24/7 public access within 30 days. The CLF further noted the inaction of the Boston Planning and Development Agency, who negotiated the original arrangement for public space when the hotel and residences were built in 2005. The CLF letter is shown in full below.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this informative article, Matt! All too often Space that was once public is now trying to be claimed as private making our beautiful harbor walks inaccessible. Sad. I’m thankful the state stepped it. I walk by frequently as I commute to work and walk my dog. I sure hope the new seaport development doesn’t try do the same.

  2. Shouldn’t the profit that was generated by the hotel over the years by holding private events on public land be turned over to the state to invest in maintenance and improvements along the Harborwalk?

  3. I am happy that someone file a complaint with the Regulatory agent to enforce the law. Too often big corporations and businesses take over public land for their gains without compensation to the general public. There should be fines issued for the many years of infractions that the hotel had benefited. The hotel must make the changes as agreed in their approval agreement.

  4. Great news! And yes, I agree with Peter’s comment above.

    The Intercon have so infused themselves within that space I actually didn’t think the garden area was public… If we want to reduce confusion that bar should probably be shut down. It’s a great spot to drink for sure, but that has probably contributed to this issue.

  5. So glad people spoke up and the CLF and DEP took action, but was has been the response of the hotel? Hoping to see a follow-up to this article with more good news. Letters and citations are nice, but the problem isn’t solved until actions are taken.

  6. Hmmmm…. This outdoor dining and take over of public space seems common all over Boston. Some main arteries almost force you to the road to get past. What makes this different? Is the Intercontinental a special case or is this a new crack down on expansion into public spaces?

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