Meeting for proposed 600-foot-tall Boston waterfront skyscraper draws opponents

New Developments News Downtown
Plans call for a 865,000-square-foot mixed-use development at the Harbor Garage site. Tomorrow AB/KFP

Opponents of a project that would bring a 600-foot-tall skyscraper to Boston’s downtown waterfront spoke out at a meeting Thursday, vocalizing their concerns over the impact such a building would have on the area.

“A building this big doesn’t belong on a waterfront,” environmental consultant George Butley said, according to WCVB reports. “For 40 years, I taught in environmental management that you don’t build big things on the waterfront.”

Under scrutiny was the Chiofaro Company’s plans to transform 70 East India Row — the current site of Harbor Garage — into a 865,000-square-foot, mixed-use development — a vision that’s been in the works for more than a decade.

The $1.2 billion tower, dubbed The Pinnacle at Central Wharf, would include offices, stores, restaurants, open space, and 200 residential units.

Developers say the project would also improve public access to the harbor and be integrated with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and the New England Aquarium’s proposed “Blueway.”

“It’s important right now to get our story out there and to listen,” project manager Rob Caridad told WCVB Thursday.

The plans call for elevating the site by about 4 feet to help address any rise in sea level.

But opponents contend the project is too large for the property.

“It’s basically one building that’s protecting the private interests of a single developer and not thinking about a wider district-wide solution,” Vikki Spruill, the aquarium’s president and CEO, told WCVB.

Project plans were filed in November after city officials codified the “Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan” into the Boston Zoning Code.

That plan was the product of years of conversations between neighboring sites, developers, community groups, and Boston officials.

“We have an enormous responsibility to the city after a lengthy and inclusive (Municipal Harbor Plan) process, where a wide range of contributors worked collectively to lay the groundwork for ‘Boston’s next great place.’ This project will be the catalyst for that transformation. It’s time to allow residents of – and visitors to – Boston the opportunity to enjoy the full potential of our city’s waterfront,” Don Chiofaro, the company’s president and founder, said in a statement in November.

But the harbor plan has received pushback of its own: Both the nearby Harbor Towers and the Conservation Law Foundation have challenged it in court.

“This is the last sort of remaining piece of our downtown waterfront, and we need to get it right,” Spruill said of the project Thursday.

Developers said their plans will evolve as the project review process moves along.

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