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200-plus unit condo project for Dock Square Garage moves forward

New Developments Downtown North End
A rendering of the Dock Square Garage proposal.
A rendering of the Dock Square Garage proposal. STANTEC

Plans to give a parking garage near Quincy Market a substantial makeover by adding more than 200 condominiums advanced Thursday after receiving Boston Planning and Development Agency approval — despite mixed support.

The Dock Square Garage project, at 20 Clinton St., would bring in a six-story vertical addition with a ground floor refurbished for retail space, just a stone’s throw away from some of Boston’s most bustling tourist sites, including the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and Faneuil Hall.

The work has an anticipated $140 million price tag for New York-based Fortis Property Group and would include the creation of 209 condominiums (with 27 affordable units), while keeping much of the current garage capacity of about 450 parking spaces. The proposal also envisions shops lining John F. Fitzgerald Surface Road amid the reconfiguration.

Developers say the redesign is a needed transformation of an unattractive leftover from the area’s more industrial days.

“We’ve had numerous meetings and discussions on this project, and we believe that at the end of the day, this is a much better building and project than we started with,” said John Matteson, a developer partnering with Fortis on the makeover. “We’re excited about the way it’s going to kind of fill the eyesore within the Greenway once this project is developed.”

Still, the plans for new life drew heavy criticism from some, especially following a rejection earlier this year from the Boston Civic Design Commission, a BPDA advisory group.

Even with changes to the design, which included knocking down the proposed height from 190 to about 125 feet, the commission remained divided last week.

“It’s simply too massive for this historic area, too looming over Quincy Market just feet away, too impactful to the views of the Custom House and general sense of space,” said Greg Galer, executive director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, one of several groups opposed to the project.

With a split vote from the commission, BPDA board member Ted Landsmark said that although the plans have evolved, he still hadn’t heard anyone calling it a strong proposal.

“This particular parcel is hardly the most distinguished parcel along the Greenway and hardly one anyone would fight to preserve. And replacing it with something better, given all the development that’s gone on in town, would be, I think, something that we would all agree to,” Landsmark said. “But in the midst of the development boom that we’re facing in the city at this moment, replacing a terrible garage with a 209-unit condominium building doesn’t seem, to me at least, like the highest utilization of this space and we’re going to be stuck with this for decades at a minimum.”

But board member Michael Monahan said the redesign will help the city create more housing. He would have supported even more stories to aid that goal, he said.

“I don’t think that there’s a consensus on those that are in opposition,” Monahan said. “It’s just change, and some people don’t like change. So I think it’s a good compromise. It’s a good project.”

The project, which still requires Boston Zoning Commission review, was ultimately approved in a 3-1 vote, with Landsmark voting in opposition.

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