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Lewis Wharf hotel proposal appears doomed

State officials suggest developer return to the drawing board

A proposal to plunk a two-building, 277-key hotel at the edge of Lewis Wharf on the Boston waterfront appears to be doomed after state officials ruled this week that developers cannot build out onto wharves, piers, and pilings that are submerged at high tide. Developer JW Capital planned to build 1.6 of the 4-acre project on piers.

That does not necessarily mean no Lewis Wharf hotel, period—probably just not the currently proposed one. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection suggested JW Capital return to the drawing board.

Beyond this particular project, the state decision could also affect other major waterfront proposals, including the redevelopment of the Boston Harbor Garage and the 150 Seaport condo (though neither of those specific projects includes plans to build on piers, etc).

Meanwhile, the Boston Redevelopment Authority is working on a rezoning of a large stretch of the waterfront from Long Wharf to the Northern Avenue Bridge.

Will that proposed rezoning, expected to be released before the end of 2016, clash with the new state ruling? And what about ongoing local opposition to more luxury development along the waterfront, especially the kind that sometimes effectively walls off public access? Stay tuned.