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Hundreds Zoom in for Harbor Garage Redevelopment Meeting on Chiofaro’s Pinnacle Project

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) held a virtual meeting on Wednesday evening to update the Chiofaro Company’s proposal on Pinnacle at Central Wharf project, intent on replacing the Harbor Garage.

With BPDA public meetings resuming, the September 9th Harbor Garage Redevelopment Meeting, a successor to the public meeting held in February, saw plenty of action with nearly 300 visitors in attendance.

Revisiting the Project

Project Manager Rob Caridad delivered a presentation that provided a review of the 600-foot, mixed-use tower, as filed on the project notification form (PNF).

According to the plans, the tower would have approximately 865,000 sq. ft. and the outside Harborwalk 28,000 sq. ft. of the project site, which is currently occupied by the Harbor Garage would be converted to public open space, effectively tieing into the adjacent Harborwalk and meeting the 50% Chapter 91 requirement set forth under the recent Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan. There would be 200 residential units and 538,000 sq. ft. of office space, plus 42,000 sq. ft. of amenity space including retail and restaurant.

The tower is being promoted as the “Front Porch for Boston” as well as a “new public destination for Central Wharf, offering a host of elevated experiences along the waterfront.”

With architecture designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, a climate-resilient plan would place the structure at 21.5 feet of elevation above sea level, with the overall project site and the adjacent portion of the Harborwalk elevated by approximately four feet – cognizant of expected sea-level rise. The project also plans to incorporate a “stepped design” framework to reduce wind and shadow impacts in the area including the Greenway park system.

Offsets and Amplifications have been offered that include, among other items, a $30 million construction period revenue loss indemnification for the NEAQ (New England Aquarium) with an additional $10 million for the design and construction of its Blueway initiative.

Commentary and Controversy

The Pinnacle project continues to face controversy, with ongoing litigation and pressure from the New England Aquarium (NEAQ), the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), and Harbor Towers residents. 

NEAQ President Vikki Spruill’s statement largely echoed her previously noted stance of firm opposition, adding that the challenges identified in February have since “solidified and expanded”. While agreeing that the removal of the current Harbor Garage is “absolutely an important policy objective” Spruill argued that “replacing it with an exclusive tower that will harm the public realm experience is simply the wrong path forward.”.

“This isn’t the first the rodeo for many of us” CLF Senior Counsel Peter Shelley said, “we’ve had many developers appearing before the community promising the world.”

Topics concerning affordability, equity, parking, traffic, and the impacts of wind and shadow were re-explored throughout the meeting, with Harbor Towers and nearby Mercantile Wharf residents weighing in with views largely opposing the waterfront redevelopment.

Next Steps

Following an additional IAG (Impact Advisory Group) meeting and a third public meeting, BPDA will issue its written Scoping Determination following the conclusion of the public commentary period on October 2nd.

The video for this presentation can be found here.

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One Reply to “Hundreds Zoom in for Harbor Garage Redevelopment Meeting on Chiofaro’s Pinnacle Project

  1. “harm the public realm experience”. I need a translation.

    It’s about Harbor Tower residents losing their parking and city views. The fish don’t care who’s in the next tank.

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