A major reason we're even talking about the skyscraper plans unveiled Wednesday for the Harbor Garage is that we've been here before. Developer Don Chiofaro, whose firm has owned the property since 2007, once had plans for even giant-er towers in place of the aged, ugly garage. In 2012, however, after an often rancorous back and forth with the developer, the city, then under the Menino administration, put the kibosh on the proposals. It's been a slow slog back ever since for Chiofaro, who on Wednesday spelled out details for two skyscrapers, one reaching to 600 feet, and a raft of public amenities, including a giant arcade with a retractable roof.
Such public-friendly flourishes have surely impressed the new sheriff in town, Mayor Marty Walsh. According to The Globe's Casey Ross, the Walsh administration "is open to tall buildings on the site of the Harbor Garage, as long as developer Donald J. Chiofaro's plan also provides adequate open space and public access to the water." Given that Chiofaro has said he would tweak the plans even further with more public input, it's likely the mayor will get the opportunity to put his own stamp on the project, thus ambling away with a victory he can point to years down the road, during construction and certainly afterward.
Moreover! The plans for Chiofaro, who did not support Walsh in last year's election (but, hey, bygones, right?), also gel with what Walsh has often stated is his meta-goal for the city: growth. "I want Boston to grow," he told The Herald this week. "In order for me to improve the schools and do all the things I want to do, we have to create growth. I don't want to raise taxes. I want to raise taxes through new development." Plus: Hizzoner has said he wants to re-conceptualize the city's skyline, including with taller buildings toward its edges.
So! Developer willing to play ball. Mayor looking for taller developments where developer wants to build. Plenty of public perks. We'd say the odds are pretty good. Your thoughts?
· Plan for harbor towers wins fresh look at City Hall [Globe]
· Mayor Marty Walsh Pledges 'Open Door' to Developers [Herald]
· Check Out the Giant Ice Rink and Other Harbor Garage Plans [Curbed Boston]
· Big-Time Downtown Project Aquarium Place Dead by the Water [Curbed Boston]
[All renderings via Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates]