Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative


The Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative is the next step in the implementation of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway District Use and Development Guidelines, which were adopted by the BRA in 2010 to preserve and activate the Greenway’s open space resources and enhance connections between the Downtown’s neighborhood districts and waterfront.

The Greenway Guidelines will serve as the master planning framework for the development of a new Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP) which will harmonize the Guideline’s recommendations with the state’s Waterways Regulations. The planning effort will also involve the development of a Waterfront Activation and Public Realm Plan, and zoning recommendations for the Greenway District corridor.

All of the waterfront parcels within the Greenway District are subject to the state’s Waterways Regulations, Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L.) Chapter 91, which establishes specific building design and use requirements to ensure new waterfront projects serve a proper public purpose and support water-dependent uses. The Waterways Regulations include provisions that allow for municipalities to deviate from these requirements to accommodate local objectives through the development of municipal harbor plans. The Guidelines provide the necessary analysis of the built environment and potential densities that are required for the development of a MHP.

To facilitate the harbor planning process a range of public benefits and mitigation offsets need to be advanced for projects that propose building metrics that do not conform to Chapter 91 standards. A Downtown Waterfront Activation and Public Realm Plan will be developed as part of the planning effort to assist in this endeavor. This plan will inform the MHP process through the establishment of guidelines and priorities to further activate the watersheet and water’s edge.

The initiative will also review existing zoning and land use controls that relate to the full extent of the Greenway District corridor, from Chinatown to the North End, and develop recommendations that will serve to implement the Greenway Guidelines and the Downtown Waterfront District MHP. Please visit for all current updates.

Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan Zoning Amendment

In April 2018 Secretary Beaton approved the Downtown Boston Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP). The Secretary's decision requires that the BPDA modify existing zoning to reflect the approved MHP. The BPDA reviewed and updated a draft zoning amendment for consistency with the MHP. The draft zoning amendments to Article 42A—Harbor Park District is available below for review and comments through September 4, 2019. Please share your comments using the comment box below or by mail or email with Chris Busch at

Draft Zoning Amendments to Article 42A—Harbor Park District

Draft Update to Zoning Map 1E-1F Harbor Park and North End

Summary of Changes to Article 42A—Harbor Park District


Upcoming Meetings

Open Office Hours for the Downtown MHP Zoning Amendment

Visit the Leventhal Room on August 19, 2019, from 10-11 am or 6-7 pm for an informal opportunity to ask questions and share feedback with BPDA planners about the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan Zoning Amendment. More information is available here.

Past Meetings

Public Meeting for the Downtown MHP Zoning Amendment—Presentation Materials

The BPDA hosted a public meeting on August 12, 2019, from 6:30–8:00 pm for community members to learn more about the draft zoning amendments to Article 42A. Please visit this link to download the presentation materials.

Documents All Documents »

Share Your Thoughts

We want to hear from you! All questions, comments and ideas are welcome. Comments are received and reviewed by members of the Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative team.
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