'Tis no secret that developing buildings in Greater Boston can be quite the headache. Land is expensive, construction costs are high, and we are a region of watchers: People pay attention to their blocks and let their voices be thunderously heard when they don't like what they see. A few projects, all in Boston and Cambridge, are causing particular stirs due largely to such community opposition. They also reflect the changes galloping forward in many parts of Greater Boston, changes not always understood nor welcomed.
Lewis Wharf Hotel
The plan: To plunk a two-building hotel with 277 rooms at the end of the Boston wharf.
The controversy: Some residents are concerned such a development, even though it would not ascend higher than 55 feet, would block that much more access to the waterfront. There are also the seemingly requisite concerns over traffic and noise.
Where it stands: On the drawing board.
Harbor Garage Tower(s)
The plan: A single tower, no higher than 600 feet with no more than 900,000 square feet, in place of the current Boston garage.
The controversy: Developer Don Chiofaro had wanted a much bigger project, one with two towers for starters and as much as 1.3M square feet. It was due to contain luxury condos, top-shelf hotel rooms, retail, office space, even a massive outdoor run with a close-able roof. Yet opposition has been vociferous: against the scope and its possible shadows; against the influx of residents, tourists and office workers; against the shadows it would cast; even against the effects it would supposedly have on the marine creatures at the nearby New England Aquarium.
Where it stands: On the drawing board, though Chiofaro has barely said anything since the city green-lighted a scaled-back project early this past summer. (The two-tower proposal is rendered at the top of this item per Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.)
The plan: Turning the former Holy Trinity German Catholic Church and rectory in the South End into a 33-unit luxury condo called the Lucas.
The controversy: This project is controversial less for its scope or impact than for what it represents: the conversion of an aged community benchmark into yet another glassy condo. As such, the opposition has been mostly in the form of lamentations about Boston's soul, and less in the form of letters to public officials and fliers in the neighborhood.
Where it stands: Moving forward, with deals already struck for some of the condos.
Metropolitan Moving & Storage Warehouse
The plan: M.I.T. wants to convert the 221,194-square-foot storage warehouse that it owns at Vassar Street and Mass. Ave. into dorms for up to 450 students as well as other university uses.
The controversy: The City of Cambridge says that the university is not giving the storage tenants enough time to move their stuff (they have until the end of this month). Maddeningly, some members of the City Council have asked M.I.T. to prioritize the storage over the dorm construction, even though those units would take that many more students out of the general Cambridge housing market, which is filled to the brim.
Where it stands: Moving forward, though some storage tenants now have until January to relocate their things.
Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse
The plan: To redevelop the former jail and courthouse into 445,000 square feet of office and retail space as well as 24 apartments and requisite parking.
The controversy: No one has ever liked this East Cambridge courthouse, apparently, going back to its 1970s origins. Too tall and too ugly (no love for Brutalism in these parts). When it came up for conversion in 2012, opponents seized their moment and have tied up the project with objections in the courts of law and public opinion ever since. The main objection? The courthouse's 22-floor height, which developer Leggat McCall has offered to chop by two stories (the latest rendering is above).
Where it stands: God only knows. The developer survived a legal challenge at the start of the summer, but opponents plan to appeal. And then there's another part of the same challenge, and that might be appealed if lost and... ad infinitum...
Whoever said Boston real estate was boring?
· Lewis Wharf Hotel Opposition: When 55 Feet Is Way Too Tall [Curbed Boston]
· Check Out the Giant Ice Rink and Other Harbor Garage Plans [Curbed Boston]
· Sullivan Courthouse Fight: All This for 24 Apartments? [Curbed Boston]
· New England Aquarium Swimming Against Harbor Garage Plans [Curbed Boston]
· New Renderings of Boston's Most Gabbed-About Conversion [Curbed Boston]
· Deals Already at Unfinished South End Church Conversion [Curbed Boston]
· Cambridge to M.I.T.: Prioritize Storage Instead of Housing [Curbed Boston]
· M.I.T. Turning Massive Metropolitan Warehouse Into Dorms [Curbed Boston]
· Our Arrested Development archive [Curbed Boston]