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New England Aquarium wants 'Blueway' in exchange for supporting Harbor Garage plan

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Change would extend Greenway 1,000 feet

A new proposal for waterfront parkland may end up a game-changer for the redevelopment of the Harbor Garage, one of Boston’s most controversial projects in recent memory.

The New England Aquarium, long an opponent of developer Don Chiofaro’s plans to turn the garage into a high-rise (or two), has proffered an idea for an expansive waterfront public space in exchange for its support for Chiofaro’s designs.

Per Jon Chesto in the Globe, the aquarium wants Chiofaro’s help in extending the Greenway 1,000 feet to the waterfront, where 85 feet will then front on the Harbor. Viola, expansive public parkland to encourage visitors to the aquarium.

Plus, that parkland would come with an aquarium expansion, as far as the institution envisions—and not just any expansion, but the biggest in the aquarium’s nearly 50-year history: 95,000 more square feet and an additional 40 feet of height (a bit ironic, given past opposition to Chiofaro’s high-rise ideas). The aquarium is also willing to move its standalone IMAX theater to make room for the park.

Chiofaro’s firm is cautiously receptive to the idea. A possible spanner in the works is the city’s forthcoming development plan for that area of the waterfront. That plan is expected this year. Then it moves to the state. Stay tuned.