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Dock Square Garage addition hits possible roadblock

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Boston Civic Design Commission gives a thumbs-down to glassy plans

Rendering via NorthEndWaterfront.com/BCDC

The redevelopment of the Dock Square Garage at 20 Clinton Street in the North End has hit a possible roadblock, as the Boston Civic Design Commission has rejected the latest design from the developers.

That design is itself a tweak from an original plan that would have resulted in a building as tall as 209 feet. The latest design calls for one about 160 feet high via an addition to the garage.

The design commission’s rejection does not mean the project or the current design are kaput. Rather, the Boston Planning and Development Agency can still green-light it. But it does put the wind at the back of opponents who see the design as too intrusive, particularly regarding views from the neighboring Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

The developers—two limited liability companies tied to New York City-based Fortis Development—want to build an approximately 220,000-square-foot, seven-story addition to the garage, and then add another approximately 30,000 square feet of residential space to the lower floors “by a combination of horizontal expansion and conversion of parking area,” according to a January 2019 filing with the city.

The residential space will contain up to 250 apartments, and the project also makes room for about 3,500 square feet of new restaurant-retail-services space at the ground level, facing the John F. Kennedy Surface Road, in addition to existing such space.

It would also shrink the number of spaces in the Dock Square Garage to 650 from 698, and make some of the remaining available to tenants in the project’s apartments.

Again, the project—one of several around Boston that reimagines the city’s conventional parking garages—is still viable. But the design commission’s vote could signal irreversible tumult. Per NorthEndWaterfront.com: “Based on commentary at the design meeting, a redesign that would satisfy both the BCDC and the developer is probably not possible given the current concept of building above the parking ramps.” Stay tuned.