City takes another try at moving forward plans for harborfront tower

The Boston Globe | By Tim Logan
February 1, 2017

The City of Boston has taken another stab at moving forward stalled plans for a skyscraper on the site of the Boston Harbor Garage.

Development officials on Tuesday released a new zoning plan that would allow developer Don Chiofaro to build a 600-foot tower along Atlantic Avenue near the New England Aquarium, but would require more open space at street level, a nod to the aquarium and other neighbors who worry the project might wall off the waterfront. The plan also requires Chiofaro to contribute $5 million toward a new park on Long Wharf, and $5 million to help the aquarium move its IMAX Theater.

The plan will need approval from the Boston Planning & Development Agency and state environmental officials. And it’s not clear the proposals are enough to win over neighbors and other critics who have opposed Chiofaro’s efforts to remake the site. But Chiofaro says he can live with the plan, which increased the open-space requirement on the site to 50 percent from 30 percent.

“It means we’re one step closer to getting this done,” said Don Chiofaro Jr., who’s spearheading the project for Chiofaro Co. “We’ll have less retail, less public [space] in the building, but it still gives us enough space to do what we need.”

Officials at the aquarium, which has emerged as an influential critic of Chiofaro’s plans, were still studying the new zoning Tuesday afternoon, said spokesman Tony LaCasse.

“The Aquarium wants to be clear that we have not negotiated or reached a deal with the Harbor Garage owner or developer,” he said in an e-mail.

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