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Building Shorter on the Waterfront? That's a Tall Order!

We told you last week that the Aquarium Place project on the Boston waterfront sleeps with the fishes. Happily bombastic developer Don Chiofaro withdrew his twin-tower plans for the current site of the Harbor Garage after years of sparring with the Menino administration publicly, including taking shots at the mayor in front of live mikes, which one simply doesn't do 'round here. He has said instead that he awaits the city's blueprint for the Harbor. The main dispute between Hizzoner and Chiofaro was that the developer wanted to build really tall—as high as 625 feet—while the city wants to cap Harbor development at 200 feet. As Paul McMorrow explains in a Globe op-ed today, Chiofaro's sudden quietude does not mean he will not someday build tall. It might simply be unavoidable:

When Chiofaro bought the Harbor Garage in 2007 for a stiff $153 million, it wasn’t because he has a fondness for the parking business. The garage sits on the best development site in Boston. One door opens on Boston Harbor, and the other abuts the Rose Kennedy Greenway. ... Being the good cop doesn’t reduce the cost of hauling away pieces of an old concrete garage, or building underground parking on deep pilings. Building high is the only way to recoup these costs. Taking the old garage development off the table lets the BRA write its harbor plan without a hard height figure to work against, but eventually, the redevelopment’s math problems will surface.

Stay tuned. Two hundred feet isn't the full measure of this.

· Don Chiofaro Strikes Less Confrontational Tone [Globe]
· Big-Time Downtown Project Aquarium Place Dead by the Water [Curbed Boston]