Harbor Garage Redevelopment Pontificating | Waterfront

Status
Not open for further replies.

rjacobs

New member
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
94
Reaction score
1
Unfortunately, something just changed for the worse: yesterday a judge effectively ruled in favor of the harbor towers hypocrites and the "let's have a hulking garage for another 50 years" Conservation Society by allowing their lawsuits to proceed, resulting in what is now expected to be a lengthy trial. Sorry to share the bad news. I'm so disappointed and pissed off: https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2019/10/18/suits-over-waterfront-zoning-can-trial-judge-says/i5Hi4pR8Wt0GwRTMzmeJqL/story.html?p1=AMPArticle_Recirculation
 

meddlepal

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2012
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
70
Eh getting a definitive answer through the courts should be commended. Everyone wants to build build build, but if the law says it can't be done then it can't be done and we should be looking to the state legislature to change the law not giving developers one off freebies to violate the law. Clearly a judge a saw some merit in this going further and I tend to believe judges know what they're doing.

I still think the city should figure out a way to land swap with Chiofaro and build somewhere else. It's in the best interest of the city to get a tower developed because of the tax revenue. The city can then demolish the garage and put up some civic space near the waterfront... win-win.
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
6,444
Reaction score
517
I dont even care about the tower tbh, it could be grass that goes there and Id be happy, getting rid of the garage is whats important so we can finally access/see the water from downtown vs a garage wall and whatever it takes is fine with me if that means a landswap or whatever.
 
Last edited:

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
6,991
Reaction score
167
Eh getting a definitive answer through the courts should be commended. Everyone wants to build build build, but if the law says it can't be done then it can't be done and we should be looking to the state legislature to change the law not giving developers one off freebies to violate the law. Clearly a judge a saw some merit in this going further and I tend to believe judges know what they're doing.

I still think the city should figure out a way to land swap with Chiofaro and build somewhere else. It's in the best interest of the city to get a tower developed because of the tax revenue. The city can then demolish the garage and put up some civic space near the waterfront... win-win.
Everything in MA of this nature is a deal -- and no deal is too small for someone to be interested [and get a piece of the cake or a trophy]
The totally unelected CLF is setting up someone for a shakedown with the help of some totally unelected judge -- perhaps CLF cash is drying up as their hardcore supporters are moving on to something else [such as National -scale Politics] or ???

Chiofaro sees this as his Legacy Project -- he wants to do it sooner rather than later while the market is still hot and money is easily available
The Aquarium sees the "Blue Trail" as their Legacy Project to bring the Aquarium back into National Prominence

In any event -- this will now be settled -- a lot of cash from Chiafaro in exchange for building his Tower [as adjusted]:
  1. The Legislature will make a one-time adjustment [a la the Winthrop Sq Tower and shadows on the Common] with some permanent "Fig Leaf" to make it impossible to do anymore of these kinds of projects
  2. da Don will deliver some Concessions on the Tower
    1. the height [less],​
    2. the square footage [less]​
    3. public access to the shoreline [more] a la Whiskey Priest vs the Residences​
    4. Public Exhibits or Meeting Rooms in the Tower​
  3. da Don will deliver Cash for the "settlement" and "mitigation"
    1. CLF will get cash for their "Attorney's Fees" and expansion of the 'Public Domain" as their "Fig Leaf" / er Trophy​
    2. and the Harbor Towers crowd will get some concession such as updating the heating / cooling to the "Greenland Standard"​
    3. The aquarium will also get a "Greenland Standard" Heating and Cooling System to add to the "Blue Trail" as their trophy​

In the end its the "Boston Way"
 

Massachoicetts

Active Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2019
Messages
117
Reaction score
69
So.. its a go?

Not a fan of the 'fig leaf'

Still amazed how two 600ft towers over a parking garage to alleviate the housing crunch and strengthen our economy, in exchange to dd a blue way and help the aquarium... faces 4+ years of backlash and a crazy amount of NIMBYism. Theres literally 7 citywide positives and 1 'negative' to some Harbor Tower residents.
 
Last edited:

odurandina

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2015
Messages
5,072
Reaction score
106
It is not (2) 600' towers.
Not 2 as in (not two)
It is 1.0 towers since the early summer of '16,
and 50% lot coverage (including the footprint of the IMAX).
 
Last edited:

stellarfun

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2006
Messages
4,771
Reaction score
67
The litigation, CLF v. Commonwealth, turns on the definition of "relatively modest". Is a 600' building "relatively modest"? The litigation is also challenging the size of the proposed building on the Hook Lobster parcel.

.... To approve any substitute provision to the height standard at 310 CMR 9.51(3)(e), I must first determine that the Plan specifies alternative height limits and other requirements that ensure that, in general, new or expanded buildings for nonwater-dependent use will be relatively modest in size, in order that wind, shadow, and other conditions of the ground-level environment will be conducive to water-dependent activity and public access associated therewith, as appropriate for the applicable location on Boston Harbor. The approval regulations focus on how a building’s mass will be experienced at the public open spaces on the project site, especially along the waterfront and key pathways leading thereto. Within this context, I must apply the “comparable or greater effectiveness” test to determine whether the proposed substitution and offsetting measures will assure that the above objective is met.
See p. 10 of Commonwealth’s approval of South Boston waterfront zoning [my emphasis]
https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/08/pl/south-boston-mhp-decision-10-22-09.pdf

The link below is to the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Boston Waterfront Development Corp. [BWDC] v. Commonwealth, a 1979 decision that set out a public use of waterfront land.

This decision upset the applecart about what could be built along the waterfront.

...We hold, as did the Appeals Court, that BWDC's ownership of the land in question is subject to the condition that it be used for a public purpose related to the "promotion of trade and commerce by enabling and encouraging the owners of flats to build wharves, warehouses, and other structures thereon for the use and convenience of those having occasion to resort to the ports and harbors ...." Bradford v. McQuesten, 182 Mass. at 82. Whether BWDC's current use of the land is consistent with that public purpose, and if not, what the proper remedy might be, we leave for such further proceedings as the parties may deem appropriate or necessary.
https://law.justia.com/cases/massachusetts/supreme-court/volumes/378/378mass629.html

Note: The decision in BWDC was after the construction of Harbor Towers, which opened in 1971. IMO, it is likely that HT could not have been built if this decision had antedated their construction.

As for Chiofaro and his garage project, the parcel is <57,500 sq ft. The Commonwealth has decreed that the building cannot be over 600’ tall, as a taller height would cast a new shadow on Long Wharf on October 31.

The city of Boston concluded that the 600’ feet height could be achieved on a small part of the parcel, at the southwest corner, adjacent to the Greenway. (Apparently, the northbound CA/T tunnel is very close to this small part of the property; this could impinge on construction there.) Fifty percent of the parcel must remain as open space, and this would contain the garage entrance. The city of Boston said the building must not exceed 900,000 gross sq ft.

In Sept 2018, in an article in Boston magazine, Chiofaro indicated the building would be built above a replacement garage, and contain a hotel, commercial office space, and condos. The building would be built as layers, with the condo starting at elevation 400’.

Looked at very simplistically, if Chiofaro has 30 floors each at 28,000 gsf (which is about 50 percent of the parcel) up to 400 feet, that leaves him with 60,000 gsf for the condos, or about 4,000 gsf a condo floor (15 condo floors). And the gsf is reduced by elevator(s), stairwells, and mechanical and utility chases. (The 600’ limit probably includes the height of the penthouse for the elevator overrun and other mechanicals, so the actual number of condo floors may very well be less).

A more sophisticated look would suggest a building that resembles a sculpted spire, rising in incrementally shrinking layers from a broad 28,000 sq ft podium, with lots of terracing, and three separate uses requiring three separate lobbies. (And maybe a lobby for the garage, too.) Very little street level presence. IMO, three distinct uses with varying floor plates means a costly, perhaps unaffordable, building to construct on top of a new, large, expensive, underground garage.
 

Johnnyrocket891

New member
Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
31
Reaction score
10
What is the litigation about if CLF is trying to protect public access to the Waterfront?
The garage blocks all public access to the waterfront already.

Is CLF goal for the garage to stay intact on the Greenway?
 

SlothofDespond

Active Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2014
Messages
150
Reaction score
11
The totally unelected CLF is setting up someone for a shakedown with the help of some totally unelected judge -- perhaps CLF cash is drying up as their hardcore supporters are moving on to something else [such as National -scale Politics] or ???
You don't want elected judges. You really don't. The Mass. courts are for the most part, very good, and injecting politicians of questionable legal background into the system as superior court judges simply would not make it better. I agree re: the CLF though. Any shade you want to throw their way is most welcome.
 

Rover

Active Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2016
Messages
763
Reaction score
57
Can someone again tell me how 1) the IMAX theatre complies with the law, and 2) where the CLF was when it was proposed, approved, and built? Because if they were true to their beliefs, and not merely an extortion outfit, wouldn't they have won a slam dunk case against a hulking building with zero public access unless you pay admission?
 

statler

Senior Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
7,760
Reaction score
112
The IMAX was grandfathered under a non-profit exemption. I believe the CFL (or some other group) lost their shit when it was built, but they couldn't stop it.

Edit: I think it was Boston Harbor Association/Vivian Li. I'm still trying to find some sources.

Here we go:

Li was outraged that the New England Aquarium was able to ride its legal status as a “water-dependent use” to build that big, boxy IMAX theater, blocking off a huge chunk of the harbor. “They’d never have been able to do that if they were General Cinema,” she says.
 
Last edited:

stellarfun

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2006
Messages
4,771
Reaction score
67
What is the litigation about if CLF is trying to protect public access to the Waterfront?
The garage blocks all public access to the waterfront already.

Is CLF goal for the garage to stay intact on the Greenway?
The garage currently blocks no public access to the waterfront. The harbor walk runs along the east side of the garage.

See:

See: Parcel ID: 0302995000
at:

The IMAX is not part of the parcel of land that Chiofaro owns. In Chiofaro's sketched site plan, the garage entrance is part of the 50 percent open space, and the IMAX would, in the future, block a view of the harbor from the Greenway.

See:
 

Vivanna

New member
Joined
Dec 12, 2014
Messages
23
Reaction score
7
The garage currently blocks no public access to the waterfront. The harbor walk runs along the east side of the garage.

See:

See: Parcel ID: 0302995000
at:

The IMAX is not part of the parcel of land that Chiofaro owns. In Chiofaro's sketched site plan, the garage entrance is part of the 50 percent open space, and the IMAX would, in the future, block a view of the harbor from the Greenway.

See:

Looking at these two street view images it is extremely apparent that the only people who would prefer this hulking garage to a new tower, with 50% open space and no shadow impacts, are those with ulterior motives. Harbor Towers residents want parking and new HVAC, Aquarium wants it's "Blue-way" paid for and CLF sees an opportunity to extort funds from the developer in the name of conservancy (a practice it has been carrying out for years). Disgraceful that they are allowed to tie up the court system with this extortion, at least be upfront about it and negotiate a deal with the developer.
 

jdrinboston

Active Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2011
Messages
560
Reaction score
26
Looking at these two street view images it is extremely apparent that the only people who would prefer this hulking garage to a new tower, with 50% open space and no shadow impacts, are those with ulterior motives. Harbor Towers residents want parking and new HVAC, Aquarium wants it's "Blue-way" paid for and CLF sees an opportunity to extort funds from the developer in the name of conservancy (a practice it has been carrying out for years). Disgraceful that they are allowed to tie up the court system with this extortion, at least be upfront about it and negotiate a deal with the developer.
This litigation may indeed be a ploy to force Chiafaro to the neogiating table. Their litigants negotiating position is much stronger now that the developers are staring down the barrell of 3 to 4 years of litigation before they can even hope to put a formal application in front of the BPDA.
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
6,991
Reaction score
167
You don't want elected judges. You really don't. The Mass. courts are for the most part, very good, and injecting politicians of questionable legal background into the system as superior court judges simply would not make it better. I agree re: the CLF though. Any shade you want to throw their way is most welcome.
Let's stipulate that at one time the Mass Courts and Judges were very good and made important decisions which often influenced the rest of the US. BUT that time was long ago when there were Judges such as Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis. In the recent era -- most of the judges were lawyers who would ordinarily been back bencher state reps -- except they happened to make the right size contribution to a future or current [at the time] Governor [who themselves were often failed small-time attorneys or such]

But I digress -- the key to Chiofaro's Tower -- is that in the interest of Cash for the CLF and probably some sort of Court Decree [or Legislation] about building anything larger than a 2 story doghouse on the waterfront after Chiafaro's Tower [the Trophy for the CLF] -- Chiofaro will get to build his 600- ft tower

Hook Lobster can make the same kind of deal later to get a special deal for their tower [banning any future construction 100 ft from the waterfront except for a 1 story transparent doghouse to prevent there being an shadows which could be cast upon a harbor seal sunbathing at 6:17 AM EST on December 23]

No-one in Massachusetts care's a whit about previous court actions except as leverage for their own "Deal'
 

Johnnyrocket891

New member
Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
31
Reaction score
10
The garage currently blocks no public access to the waterfront. The harbor walk runs along the east side of the garage.
Appartantly the garage is a good fit in this location according to CLF.

Did the developer display the new building proposal yet?
 

stellarfun

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2006
Messages
4,771
Reaction score
67
Louis Brandeis was never a judge in Massachusetts. His legal philosophy was to side with the 'people'. While Justice Brandeis is long dead and I certainly can't speak for him, his philosophy was such that he probably would have sided with the CLF over the Commonwealth and a big real estate developer in this particular case.

As for the cynical views expressed, there is already one Donald trumpeting the 'art of the deal' and positing that the laws don't apply to him --not that the local Donald has said he is above the law. But let's not metastasize the other Donald's approach to doing business to Massachusetts.
___________________________
The developer has revealed no recent renderings, and the most recent renderings were of the garage entrance and the 'open space', and little else.
__________________________
It should also be understood that Chiofaro is not a deep-pocketed developer. He filed for bankruptcy on International Place in 2004, a result forced on him by Tishman Speyer, his so-called 'pirates from Gotham' who held the mortgage. Tishman Speyer said at the time he had no equity in IP. Post bankruptcy, his ownership stake in IP was cut from 40 percent to 10 percent. As he brings little skin to the game, whomever finances the replacement 'tower' for the garage is going to dictate what is built there. And that assumes he finds a financing partner(s). And to paraphrase, 'Deutsche Bank has left the building'.
 

Rover

Active Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2016
Messages
763
Reaction score
57
The IMAX was grandfathered under a non-profit exemption. I believe the CFL (or some other group) lost their shit when it was built, but they couldn't stop it.

Edit: I think it was Boston Harbor Association/Vivian Li. I'm still trying to find some sources.
That sounds like a bit of revisionist history by Vivian. I really don't recall any of these groups going to the mat against the IMAX. I find it hard to believe the NEAQ whipped out some grandfathered clause and they all said "oh well, lets go find the next grift" that easily.

The garage currently blocks no public access to the waterfront. The harbor walk runs along the east side of the garage.
This statement is so laughable I would think you were working for the CLF if it wasn't for your longstanding and deep hatred for Chiofaro. Do you live in Harbor Towers perhaps?

But we've gone over this a thousand times. Lets go over it again. Using your own #'s and comps with the Garden garage, Don is making several million free and clear on that garage, especially when you factor in the retail that he has on the 1st floor. He has zero, and I mean, zero, incentive to build anything unless it makes him more money than he's making now. There is no leverage over the man. He either does nothing and keeps raking in money, or he's allowed to build and increase the view of the waterfront in exchange for a bigger profit. Full stop.

But you ought to be thankful he's a local guy. If he ever sells out, the first thing some international development company is going to do is run to court, claiming that the IMAX precedent means they can build high. In case you haven't noticed, federal courts a pretty business friendly nowadays regardless of our own personal preference on the matter. His stake in IP which you're obsessed with is irrelevant. He's making money hand over fist controlling something that's becoming scarcer by the day - parking in the city.
 

odurandina

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2015
Messages
5,072
Reaction score
106
Fuck the CLF:
The people of Boston should issue a challenge to the CLF, how after naming themselves the chosen protectors (of God knows what), they'll promise not to shake down Chiofaro for one dime, including legal fees, or any type of (legalized extortion masquerading as executive job creation), or shaking down Chiofaro in any way that threatens the viability of the project, then accepting closed door settlement/s laying claim as legitimate. .....How such corruption and extortion can be repackaged as legal, and be accepted by court authorities is fantastic.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top