Below is the statement Boston Harbor Now’s CEO and President, Kathy Abbott, gave at the public meeting held by the Pinnacle at Central Wharf project developer, The Chiofaro Company, and the Boston Planning and Development Agency at the Long Wharf Marriott, Thursday, February 27, 2020:
We’re grateful to have an actual project to react to and glad to be seeing the Boston Harbor Garage go away.
This property, at the center of our Downtown Waterfront Gateway, is Boston’s preeminent waterfront site. Any development here needs to set a standard commensurate with its importance — both historically and as part of an area at risk to the impacts of climate change.
We applaud the aspects of the project that are consistent with Chapter 91 such as the 50% open space, which includes improvements to the Harborwalk and better connections to the Harbor from the Greenway and downtown as well as efforts to meet the city’s new guidelines for resiliency. On the latter issue, we will be especially interested to learn more about how this project can best contribute to the need for districtwide flood protection in this part of the City and how it can be adapted over time in response to rising sea levels.
In our role as the organization focused on the whole harbor, we’re interested in how this project will either improve or detract from creating a “waterfront for all”.
- How can the development on this site better respond to the surrounding area and demonstrate a commitment to being an integrated part of it?
- How can this site become a model not just for other downtown or Boston parcels, but for other waterfronts around the world?
These are the kinds of questions we should all be considering as we approach a project of this magnitude.
We remain concerned about the height and mass of the building as proposed in terms of shadow on surrounding properties and views to and from the Harbor. We care about our city’s maritime history and the significance of this site adjacent to Long Wharf and the Custom House Tower.
Chapter 91 is designed to ensure that the waterfront feels welcoming and inclusive to all from the building design at the ground floor, to the height of the building, to the facilities of public accommodation inside the building. The Municipal Harbor Plan has allowed for much more height than normally allowed and this trade-off must come with commensurate benefits. We are particularly concerned that the monumental scale of the design for the lower floors – both externally and internally – will not be as welcoming and inclusive as it could be for the millions of people traversing this area throughout the year. Chiofaro needs to be more than a “catalyst”.
We expect the design to evolve and change to reflect the need for more integrated resilience and public realm around adjacent sites, to ensure that the indoor and outdoor public spaces feel welcoming regardless of whether they are being “activated” or not, and that the building will be reduced in scale to better respect the waterfront and neighbors rather than linking to their heights with balconies.
Boston Harbor Now believes that the Chiofaro Company has the opportunity and the responsibility to think beyond the parcel and invest in creating a downtown waterfront consistent with the importance of the location and decades of investment in the vision from City Hall and the Grand Staircase to the renovation of Faneuil Hall Market and the “Walk to the Sea”, Long Wharf as our city’s gateway to the Harbor today and for hundreds of years, the home of New England’s Aquarium and one of our city’s newest and most exciting parks, The Rose Kennedy Greenway. Now is the time to leave a legacy of a resilient, accessible and beautifully designed downtown waterfront that welcomes everyone by investing beyond your parcel and integrating with your neighbors.
The Custom House Tower has been welcoming us home for 105 years. The view of this tower from the water was the last thing that a century of sailors have seen leaving Boston Harbor including thousands of soldiers during the World Wars. The space between the Harbor Towers preserves the view of the Custom House Tower during the boat ride out of the Harbor, which will be eliminated by the new proposed tower.
1.4 m visit the NEAQ every year and we estimated at least another couple of million pass through that area annually.