Along with dissecting and discussing Don Chiofaro’s Harbor Garage redevelopment project, a proposal to build a mixed-use building atop the site currently occupied by local seafood staple James Hook and Co. will also be a topic of discussion at Wednesday’s public Boston Redevelopment Authority meeting.
Both the Harbor Garage and Hook undertakings are part of the more comprehensive Municipal Harbor Planning process to adopt, implement and enforce building guidelines for waterfront property while preserving the integrity of existing structures and open spaces.
William Zielinski, principal at SKW Partners Inc., presented the potential transformation of Hook back in 2014 and in November the BRA responded by noting that, similar to Chiofaro’s Harbor Garage, the hook design far exceeds state and local guidelines for building on the water.
The design calls for a 305-foot tower on 13,500-square feet of land as part of a 20,056-square foot parcel.
Predetermined guidelines for both zoning and for development as part of the Rose Kennedy Greenway’s inception, as seen in the following rendering, cap a building’s height at 175-feet. Further, the proposed structure would cover some 67.3 percent of the existing land parcel. Per state regulations, 50 percent of a waterfront parcel tapped for development must remain an open space.
Remember when Chiofaro put forth the idea of a retractable roof over a public atrium as part of his 2014 Harbor Garage proposal? That was nixed because open space must remain uncovered year round.
Also similar to the Chiofaro proposal is that neither it or the Hook project are being sent back to the drawing board. Now, it’s important to realize that neither proponents have formally filed the necessary paperwork with the BRA to start pushing their developments through the pipeline, but they have been soliciting public feedback as well as that from officials who have expressed a willingness to reconsider the size constraints.
If this happen, it’s not the implementation and construction that worries opponents the most. Rather it’s the precedent that will be set allowing some particularly attractive projects to move forward in lieu of prior laid down ground rules.
The same holds true for Chiofaro’s Harbor Garage plans. He and the late Mayor Tom Menino battled publicly in the media over height requirements for a waterfront building and Menino reportedly was willing to even go as high as 200-feet.
A June 10 Boston Globe article suggests Mayor Walsh and his administration are quite open to the idea of foregoing city and state building guidelines to add more glass and spires to the city skyline.
On Wednesday, June 24, at Atlantic Wharf’s Fort Point Room located at 290 Congress Street, another Municipal Harbor Planning meeting open to the public will take place.