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Big-Time Downtown Project Aquarium Place Dead by the Water

One of Boston's biggest real estate bouts has ended in a technical knockout for Mayor Menino. Swaggering developer Don Chiofaro has scrapped his proposed twin towers project called Aquarium Place, which would have gone where the Harbor Garage is on the waterfront next to the aquarium. Chiofaro had the temerity to suggest two towers, one as high as 625 feet, with 750,000 square feet of office space as well as luxury apartments, a five-star hotel and retail. The Menino administration did not much care for the idea, declaring it soon after it was pitched in 2009 as too out-of-scale for the Rose Kennedy Greenway's edge (it was by, oh, 400 feet in some places), and saying that Chiofaro, a bombastic sort who played linebacker at Harvard in the late 1960s and never lost a taste for butting heads, just wanted to be treated differently than everybody else.

Chiofaro, whose portfolio includes the nearby International Place, did in late 2010 shrink the scope of the project by nearly 25 percent and 200,000 square feet, but not before some choice words for the mayor and the city's public review process: “We intend to keep the pressure up until we get honest answers from the person pulling the strings on this process, and we all know who that is,’’ Chiofaro said at a May 2010 press conference to what The Globe described as "stunned silence." Developers simply don't cross Hizzoner in this town, ya hear? (The mayor, for his part, never swung back publicly at Chiofaro's jabs.)

And with good reason: Aquarium Place as envisioned by Chiofaro and fought for over the last three-plus years sleeps with the fishes. Chiofaro's eponymous firm is now "working hard to be on the same page as the city. ... We’re planning something for the garage that’s going to work for the city, the neighborhood and for us." Chiofaro has vowed to build in line with what the city decides for the harbor. Game, set, match, Menino. (We've crossed sports metaphors in this item, we know.)

· Don Chiofaro Ditches Tower Plan [Herald]
· Developer’s Towering Complaint [Globe]