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How High Is Too High on the Waterfront? City to Decide

How high a developer can build in Boston comes down to an alphabet soup of federal, state and local agencies, and regulations governing everything from shadows to approaches to Logan Airport, as well as often arbitrary aesthetic concerns in a city drenched in superannuated architecture. In short, it ain't easy building tall. The city hopes to streamline the process and create some agreed-upon guidelines for at least a part of prime downtown: 39 acres of land and water along the Greenway between Christopher Columbus Park and the Northern Avenue Bridge. Per Greg Turner at The Herald, the Boston Redevelopment Authority has hired a consultant for $300,000.

What the consultant comes up with will have a direct bearing on such would-be neck-craners as Aquarium Place, the twin-tiered, hotel-apartment-retail development that Don Chiofaro wanted to plant in place of the Harbor Garage. After famously sparring with Mayor Tom Menino over heights that stretched as high as (gasp!) 625 feet, Chiofaro withdrew his current plans in the late spring and pledged to work in the future within whatever guidelines the city gins up. Thing is, though, as Paul McMorrow pointed out in a Globe op-ed at the time, building tall is sometimes the only way for developers like Chiofaro to recoup the costs of redeveloping sites like the Harbor Garage. Something's gotta give, in other words. And it looks like it's starting to.

· City Launching Study That'll Guide Developers on Harbor Height Limits [Herald]
· Just How High Can Developers Get in Boston? [Curbed Boston]
· Big-Time Downtown Project Aquarium Place Dead by the Water [Curbed Boston]
· Building Shorter on the Waterfront? That's a Tall Order! [Curbed Boston]