‘The Blueway’ could break stalemate over high-rises

The Boston Globe | By Jon Chesto
September 28, 2016

The New England Aquarium may drop its challenge to Don Chiofaro’s bid to redevelop the neighboring Boston Harbor Garage if the two sides can agree to create a park that would stretch from the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to the water’s edge.

The park, which would be part of a plan to open up dramatic views of the harbor, is a crucial piece of a broader vision that the aquarium expects to unveil Wednesday to a group that is advising city officials on planning that part of the waterfront. The aquarium is willing to move its stand-alone IMAX theater, which opened 15 years ago, to make the park possible.

This vision goes beyond the proposed open space, an area as long as 1,000 feet and up to 85 feet wide that aquarium officials refer to as “the Blueway.”

Chief executive Nigella Hillgarth would like to see the aquarium building’s size grow significantly in phases over the next decade or so as public amenities are added: a promenade, two restaurants, a man-made island.

Taken together, the project would represent the biggest physical changes to the facility since it opened in 1969.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a great waterfront space,” said Kishore Varanasi, a principal with the Boston architectural firm CBT who helped aquarium officials craft their master plan. “Here’s a shot to really think about this thing holistically.”

The aquarium still faces a number of hurdles. To create the Blueway, it would need support from two neighbors: Chiofaro, whose company owns the garage site with Prudential Financial, and a Fidelity Investments-affiliated nonprofit that oversees a small park next door.

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