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News & Updates

BRA Statement on the Harbor Garage Project

Jul 30, 2010

There are already 32 million square feet (about 30 Prudential towers’ worth) of projects already fully permitted and truly “shovel ready” in the city today. It is these projects that are going to create the jobs and economic activity when the economy turns around, not the Chiofaro Company’s project, which still has many, many years of permitting (city, state, and federal) ahead of it, let alone the myriad other issues that are of concern to us. Additionally, the company has gone on record publicly stating that they do not have the money to build the project.

The BRA has reviewed the Chiofaro Company’s project, and issued a series of questions about the project in July of 2009, over a year ago, in a document called a Scoping Determination. To date, the Chiofaro Company has not responded to the questions that the city asked in this document. The ball is in their court. If they want to advance the project, they should do the studies requested by the city just like every other development firm in the city does, and advance to the next stage in the approvals process.

The BRA has made clear that specifics impacts including shadow, wind and property rights must be addressed in far greater detail than in the original proposal. The Chiofaro Company has yet to respond to any of our questions about these environmental issues – instead they have chosen to wage a PR campaign to avoid answering the hard questions.

In a recent letter to us, Mr. Chiofaro stated that his company is revising the project and that they will soon be submitting new conceptual designs. We responded to Mr. Chiofaro and informed him that while we welcome any new or revised project, it is imperative that any revisions conform with the proposed Greenway District Use and Development Guidelines.

These guidelines ensure that any new development will preserve and enhance the Greenway as a major public open space asset in the city. The Greenway is so valuable to the quality of life, environment and economic value of our financial district and downtown that we must protect the asset and direct growth in a way that does not detract from its value to the city of Boston.

The current zoning of the Harbor Garage site is 155 feet. The Greenway guidelines recommend allowing a development that could be 200 feet tall. This represents a 30% increase in height.

We are fully supportive of the redevelopment of this site as it is not living up to its full potential. And the guidelines are not anti-development, rather they recommend lower heights along the water’s edge with taller heights along the city side of the Greenway.
The $16 billion in public investment makes the public a shareholder in the value that we have created for the private landowners along the Greenway – we don’t want to devalue our asset by putting another barrier along the waterfront.

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