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Boston's most controversial developments right now, mapped

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The Boston region's development boom continues to echo as 2017 unfolds, with some projects echoing louder than others because of their controversial nature and/or scope.

Here are the eight most controversial developments planned in the Boston area right now. Six are in Boston, including a trio of hotels in Chinatown, and one is across the river in Cambridge.

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1. Boston Harbor Garage conversion

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70 E India Row
Boston, MA 02110
Developer Don Chiofaro has been trying to build on the Boston Harbor Garage for what feels like ages. Various neighbors, including owners in the Harbor Tower condos and the management of the New England Aquarium, have consistently fought the scope of Chiofaro's plans, which once called for a pair of skyscrapers with dramatic public space in between (it's rendered below). It now looks like a scaled-back, single-tower plan might yet move forward. The centerpiece would be a 600-foot tower. The plan needs a zoning change for the waterfront that itself needs city and state approval.

2. Winthrop Square Garage conversion

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240 Devonshire St
Boston, MA 02110
Developer Millennium Partners wants to build what would be the city’s tallest primarily residential tower at the site of the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage. But concerns about the possible shadows the potentially 775-foot spire might cast on the Boston Common and the Public Garden could ultimately scuttle Millennium’s plans. The developer has said it has no intention of shrinking the height, while the city is hoping for an exception to state laws governing shadows to allow the tower's construction.

3. 25 Harrison Avenue

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25 Harrison Ave
Boston, MA 02111
Developer Sing Ming Chan wants to build a 26-story, 132-room hotel at the location of what's now a former rooming house (he bought the property in 2004 for nearly $5 million). Some residents are concerned, however, that the hotel will be yet another higher-end property in a Chinatown in much more desperate need of affordable housing.

4. 73-79 Essex Street

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73-79 Essex St
Boston, MA 02111
New York-based Westbrook Partners wants to build a 17-story, 250-room hotel at the site of what's now a low-rise commercial building. Some residents, however, want more housing in Chinatown rather than a hotel (the inn would join two others proposed for what's essentially downtown Boston's last ethnic enclave). The city is currently reviewing Westbrook's plan.

5. 25 Beach Street

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25 Beach St
Boston, MA 02111
The owner of East Ocean City restaurant wants to add four stories to its building for a hotel with up to 85 rooms. Like with two other hotel proposals in Chinatown, the development is controversial because some residents want more affordable housing in the neighborhood rather than hotels.

6. Seaport Square

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Seaport Blvd & Boston Wharf Rd
Boston, MA 02210
Developer WS Development in early February proposed a series of changes to its plans for 12.5 acres of the 23-acre Seaport Square development. The changes are broad in scope, including upping the residential presence within the 12.5 acres by 400,000 square feet or approximately 700 residences. What's controversial, though, is that where WS Development once promised a cultural center is instead a promenade that may have cultural components. In general, opponents of the plans see them as a recipe for an antiseptic anti-neighborhood of closed-in buildings. The changes have yet to net the requisite approvals.

7. 2 Charlesgate West

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2 Charlesgate W
Boston, MA 02215
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. 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).

8. 1-7 John F. Kennedy Street

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7 John F. Kennedy St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Equity One, the owner of a triangle of buildings at John F. Kennedy and Brattle streets in Harvard Square, wants to add two glassy floors to the properties to create a kind of contiguous shopping mall for the already-retail-heavy area. The proposal is unpopular enough with some simply because of that mall-ish aspect. That the project would also likely doom the Curious George store there (the only one on Earth) isn't helping matters. The development has yet to gain the necessary O.K. from Cambridge.

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1. Boston Harbor Garage conversion

70 E India Row, Boston, MA 02110
Developer Don Chiofaro has been trying to build on the Boston Harbor Garage for what feels like ages. Various neighbors, including owners in the Harbor Tower condos and the management of the New England Aquarium, have consistently fought the scope of Chiofaro's plans, which once called for a pair of skyscrapers with dramatic public space in between (it's rendered below). It now looks like a scaled-back, single-tower plan might yet move forward. The centerpiece would be a 600-foot tower. The plan needs a zoning change for the waterfront that itself needs city and state approval.
70 E India Row
Boston, MA 02110

2. Winthrop Square Garage conversion

240 Devonshire St, Boston, MA 02110
Developer Millennium Partners wants to build what would be the city’s tallest primarily residential tower at the site of the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage. But concerns about the possible shadows the potentially 775-foot spire might cast on the Boston Common and the Public Garden could ultimately scuttle Millennium’s plans. The developer has said it has no intention of shrinking the height, while the city is hoping for an exception to state laws governing shadows to allow the tower's construction.
240 Devonshire St
Boston, MA 02110

3. 25 Harrison Avenue

25 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02111
Developer Sing Ming Chan wants to build a 26-story, 132-room hotel at the location of what's now a former rooming house (he bought the property in 2004 for nearly $5 million). Some residents are concerned, however, that the hotel will be yet another higher-end property in a Chinatown in much more desperate need of affordable housing.
25 Harrison Ave
Boston, MA 02111

4. 73-79 Essex Street

73-79 Essex St, Boston, MA 02111
New York-based Westbrook Partners wants to build a 17-story, 250-room hotel at the site of what's now a low-rise commercial building. Some residents, however, want more housing in Chinatown rather than a hotel (the inn would join two others proposed for what's essentially downtown Boston's last ethnic enclave). The city is currently reviewing Westbrook's plan.
73-79 Essex St
Boston, MA 02111

5. 25 Beach Street

25 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111
The owner of East Ocean City restaurant wants to add four stories to its building for a hotel with up to 85 rooms. Like with two other hotel proposals in Chinatown, the development is controversial because some residents want more affordable housing in the neighborhood rather than hotels.
25 Beach St
Boston, MA 02111

6. Seaport Square

Seaport Blvd & Boston Wharf Rd, Boston, MA 02210
Developer WS Development in early February proposed a series of changes to its plans for 12.5 acres of the 23-acre Seaport Square development. The changes are broad in scope, including upping the residential presence within the 12.5 acres by 400,000 square feet or approximately 700 residences. What's controversial, though, is that where WS Development once promised a cultural center is instead a promenade that may have cultural components. In general, opponents of the plans see them as a recipe for an antiseptic anti-neighborhood of closed-in buildings. The changes have yet to net the requisite approvals.
Seaport Blvd & Boston Wharf Rd
Boston, MA 02210

7. 2 Charlesgate West

2 Charlesgate W, Boston, MA 02215
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. 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).
2 Charlesgate W
Boston, MA 02215

8. 1-7 John F. Kennedy Street

7 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge, MA 02138
Equity One, the owner of a triangle of buildings at John F. Kennedy and Brattle streets in Harvard Square, wants to add two glassy floors to the properties to create a kind of contiguous shopping mall for the already-retail-heavy area. The proposal is unpopular enough with some simply because of that mall-ish aspect. That the project would also likely doom the Curious George store there (the only one on Earth) isn't helping matters. The development has yet to gain the necessary O.K. from Cambridge.
7 John F. Kennedy St
Cambridge, MA 02138