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Boston’s most controversial developments as 2016 ends

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Five, big and small

At least some controversy was bound to accompany Boston’s current building boom (which may or may not be ending). Here are the five most controversial larger-scale developments in the city as 2016 gathers its things.


Winthrop Square tower

Developer Millennium Partners wants to build what would be the city’s tallest residential tower at the site of the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage.

But! Concerns about the possible shadows the 55-story, 750-foot spire might cast on the Boston Common and the Public Garden could ultimately scuttle Millennium’s plans—or at least cause them to shrink significantly.

There is also some controversy over why the developer and officials did not raise these concerns before the process moved as far along as to a deal with the city.

Green Line extension

When last we checked, state officials had pushed back the opening date for the seven new stations along the Green Line extension through Somerville into Medford until 2021.

The stations had been slated to start opening next year and to finish opening in 2020.

The delay in turn delays the 4.7-mile extension itself, the region’s biggest planned infrastructure project and one of its most joyously anticipated.

The holdup is due largely to cost overruns discovered in 2015 and still felt today.

Harbor Tower Garage development

Developer Don Chiofaro has been trying to build on the Boston Harbor Garage for what feels like ages.

Plans once called for a dramatic pair of towers that would include some 1,300,000 square feet and touches such as a seasonal open space that can be roofed during the colder seasons (that scotched plan is rendered above).

The plan shrunk amid withering neighborhood opposition to its scope as well as its possible effects on traffic, access to the waterfront, and, um, how it would affect fish at the neighboring New England Aquarium. (The aquarium recently branded construction for a development “an existential threat” to itself. Really.)

Even with further shrinkage, the whole thing remains fairly nebulous as it exits 2016—though not dead in the water.

Allandale Residences

The city this year signed off on the 20-unit Allandale Residences at 64 Allandale Street in West Roxbury, but that has not assuaged critics who worry about both its scope for the neighborhood and its potential impact on the urban wild that is Allandale Woods.

The Walsh administration, however, swung behind the project as part of its goal to create 53,000 new housing units by 2030, including in areas not used to relatively large-scale development.

Developer WonderGroup is calling the project "Boston's first entirely net-zero and LEED Platinum neighborhood." In other words, it is slated to be seriously environmentally friendly, not least by creating all of the energy it uses.

As it stands, the Allandale Residences will involve building 16 new townhouses and converting an existing single-family into four units.

The 16 units will be built in five separate clusters. And, to smooth things over a bit, the WonderGroup plans to donate $50,000 to the city for the benefit of Allandale Woods.

2 Charlesgate West

The long-proposed 344,000-square-foot tower would replace three buildings on a half-acre site in Fenway, including one that developer Trans National owns. In its place would go a 29-story spire with 173 apartments and 122 condos as well as 7,500 square feet of office space.

Trans National would occupy all of that space. There are also plans for a 10,000-square-foot restaurant on the site as well as nearly 200 parking spaces.

However! The project faces opposition because of its potential impacts on wind and shadows—even the Red Sox have gotten in on the act, fretting that 2 Charlesgate West will muddy fans’ views from Fenway Park (despite the tower being nearly 1,000 feet from the ballpark).

Stay tuned.