In a recent filing from Commercial Wharf to the State’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), the condominium association (CWECA) has proposed building a new Harborwalk on the southside of the property. The public pathway on edge of Boston Harbor would connect the boardwalk near Joe’s American Bar & Grill on Commercial Street to the section at Boston Yacht Haven.

Construction plans for a new southside Harborwalk at Commercial Wharf (approximately highlighted in yellow)

As part of the project, the CWECA proposes the following:
• Demolition and removal of the existing concrete bollards, excavate a 2.5-foot wide, 4.0-foot deep trench immediately to the north of the existing brick-and concrete-surfaced edge strip. Concrete, together with the crushed-stone base, would fill the excavated trench.
• Installation of an eight-foot-wide, timber boardwalk upon the surface of the existing brick- and concrete-surfaced edge strip. The boardwalk frame will be anchored to the
existing edge strip.
• Installation of a 42-inch high timber handrail along the waterside edge of the boardwalk.

All construction will occur from the top of the wharf, with no in-water work proposed. Commercial Wharf would be reducing the width of its parking lot by 2.5 feet. The center vehicle travel way would be reduced from the existing 18 feet to 15.5 feet. No parking spaces will be lost as a result.

The “missing” Harborwalk at Commercial Wharf has been at the center of a longstanding dispute between the condo association and the DEP. A legal battle is ongoing regarding the waterfront property’s need for a new Chapter 91 license. Legislation by State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz has also been filed, grandfathering similar rights as such a license.

Tavistock, controlling shareholder of Joe’s American Bar & Grill and Boston Yacht Haven has introduced its own proposal for the southside of Commercial Wharf, including a redevelopment of Joe’s, the burned commercial buildings and south Harborwalk.

In the early 2000’s, a former developer at the property, Doug Freeman, was supposed to post funds for a Harborwalk that never happened. The money trail has long gone cold along with Freeman. At the time, the condo association agreed to cede 4 feet width along its parking lot that was supposed to be joined with 6 feet of watersheet rights. But, the latter was never obtained by DEP and those rights are now primarily held by Boston Yacht Haven (Tavistock) at the site.

The condo association’s proposal for a Harborwalk was filed with the DEP on November 15, 2019, implying the CWECA is ready to fund the project and start building it. However, it is not clear if and when the DEP will rule or approve the project.

View more coverage of Commercial Wharf.


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