With the Godmayor gone from City Hall, Chiofaro proposes two skyscrapers for Aquarium garage

Proposed Chiofaro towers

Rendering by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. See it larger.

Developer Don Chiofaro, whose efforts to replace the Aquarium garage with a $1-billion pair of towers were thwarted by archnemesis Tom Menino, today proposed a $1-billion pair of towers for the site.

In a presentation to the Municipal Harbor Plan Committee today, Chiofaro proposed a project with one tower reaching 600 feet hight, that would include three stories of restaurants and a supermarket, conversion of a BRA parking lot on Long Wharf into parkland and other public waterfront amenities, including something he calls Harbor Square, a "four-season programmable open space with roof that can be closed seasonally" that would be large enough to swallow up the entire Rockefeller Center skating rink.

Chiofaro says the project is nearly 200 feet shorter than his original, Menino-era proposal and is the smallest one on which he could make money, given that just replacing the current garage to make way for the new project would cost roughly $180 million. He added that the project would not need additional parking given its location near the Blue Line and a proposed subsidy of ferry service.

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Comments

Love the proposed ground level

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I understand this is all very early conceptual, and we'll likely see several iterations of this, but if the lower levels look anything like this, I'm all in. This is infinitely better than the garage. I also like the proposed height. 800' is too much, I think 600' is reasonable.

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The NIMBYs won't be satisfied

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The NIMBYs won't be satisfied. It's not 100% middle income housing with a million free parking spots and a height of negative feet.

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Chiofaro Is Scum

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This is not a NIMBY issue. It was primarily a FAA issue. They don't like planes hitting buildings.

And he's complaining that unless it has x stories it will not be high enough for him to make enough money. But he already has enough money.

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It's all in the $$

Who pays for upgrades to the MBTA service to cover the additional demand created by this development?

Has anyone looked into the adequacy of the city's sewer and water infrastructure in the neighborhood to cover the load imposed by the new buildings? If not up to snuff, who pays the bill to upgrade them?

"I, the taxpayer, who gets none of the upside benefit, don't want to be on the hook for the indirect costs." is not exactly a NIMBY sentiment, it's simple economic survival.

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The still shiny new Aquarium

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The still shiny new Aquarium station would serve this development. Not many new skyscrapers in the city are so lucky to have a heavy rail subway station literally on its doorstep.

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Aquarium

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It really hasnt occurred to you that every resident and business in the buildings will be paying taxes? By your logic, no new buildings should allowed. Honestly. the whining never stops, or the constant negativity.

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Not at all

By my logic, there ought to be a careful analysis to see whether or not the new building creates a net surplus or a net deficit. If it's a net deficit, then that means the rest of the taxpayers are subsidizing it, and I see no reason for us to do that unless there's a clearly articulated policy objective being served.

infrastructure is part of city review

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The BRA asks all city agencies to review development proposals and submit written comments on issues of existing infrastructure, necessary upgrades, etc. Under Menino, the BRA required any such infrastructure or public realm improvements to be financed by the developer as a community benefit. I assume Walsh will continue that practice.

No taxpayer $

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International Place is

International Place is hideous. It wraps up Reagan-era tacky, budget interiors, and bad HVAC in one unpleasant bundle. The ground floors are awkward. The upper floors are cavelike. I don't trust the sketches of the new waterfront design and I don't trust Chiofaro.

The one area where Menino's development demagoguery made sense was with Chiofaro. I don't have a problem with someone developing the garage space; I have a problem with Chiofaro doing it. He will give lip service to "listening" to neighborhood concerns, then whine and piss and moan until he gets what he wants.

An attractive residential building with ground floor commercial could be done well if they do not cast too much shadow in either direction-- obviously the Greenway, but harbor wildlife is also impacted. And after all the time and money the city has put into making the harbor a good public space, the design should respect that. So, no cutting non-residents out of the area at night, or restricting their access during the day.

And even though he waffles about this, I'm betting Don hasn't stopped eyeing Harbor Towers. And, yes, that could be a blow to affordable housing. Something desperately needs to be done with the Towers, but Chiofaro isn't the answer.

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I work in IP

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Our office is far from "Cave-like". Give me a break with the shadow stuff...harbor wildlife will be just fine. If they need sun, they can move 20 feet to the left/right and get it.

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Congratulations on being the first person to notice

the proximity of Logan Airport to downtown. And you're right, the debt/equity/permitting sources shouldn't decide how much money he makes, YOU should. By all means, please continue to share your incisive analyses with us!

(And they ask how Menino got reelected so much.......)

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Who the F are you

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To say when someone has "enough" money? Great, so everyone that has a lot of money should stop building and innovating? I'll tell those at Apple, Google, etc to stop since they "have enough money".

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Dwight D Eisenhower and a number of Founders

..were among many in setting 'enough' ceilings.

I always love an opportunity to toss out one of my favorite charts.

http://www.nationalaffairs.com/imgLib/20120320_Wehner_Graph1LARGE.jpg

There has long been a national suspicion about wealth concentration being corrosive to democracy and it does tend to be true.

Those of you who look at that chart will note that the period between 1953 and 1983 had the lowest level of wealth concentration and we all know how much that period sucked.

It was only a 30 year run or relatively sustained prosperity for everyone.

The tax system then was confiscatory beyond a certain point and it made all the rich assholes behave themselves.

There was no incentive to throw dumb money at athletes, celebrities and other non productive monkeys because the IRS would just get it anyway.

There was no incentive to engage in a megalomaniac money grubbing potlach.

There is a point where it is just a stupid abstraction and why should a whole nation be stunted so a tiny bunch of monkeys can wave their big numbers around?

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1953-1983 the era before the

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1953-1983 the era before the bombed out rest of the world finished for the most part rebuilding itself and started eating our complacent industrial base for lunch.

There you go

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Blowing up some idiots talking points.

Don't even bother bringing up he just made a Demand Sided economics argument, which means he better be supporting a large middle class with broad purchasing power. Something that 30 years of supply side wackery has done to dismantle.

I know, it's an easy thing to dismiss.

Real Estate speculation minions are rarely notable for having a grasp of these things.

They tend to function like meth rats in heat for big score commissions.

And they haven't gotten to the 'acceptance stage' of understanding their role in the 2007 disaster.

The Boston area was lucky compared with Vegas, Florida, California and elsewhere but there was significant damage in the Commonwealth beyond the Boston metro area.

Banks were so overwhelmed by the load of crap properties they had that they suspended foreclosure proceedings en mass in a ritual that came to be known as 'extend and pretend'.

This made a lot of what is called 'shadow inventory'.

One interesting indication that there is still a lot of shadow inventory is a trend where large investment groups like hedge funds have been buying up distressed single family homes in large batches and converting them to rentals.

It is an interesting way to breathe life into a bunch of dumps that were probably non performing elements of huge Mortgage Backed Securities (AKA crap sandwiches) they were stuck with.

But is still a pretty cumbersome way to chase higher yields.

The early participants in this scheme seem to be heading for an exit.

Lest anyone forget, Washington Mutual, Countrywide, Lehman Bros and Merrill all blew up and it wasn't just subprime.

Citicorp and Bank of America nearly croaked.

And the 1929 depression was made of similar ingredients, deregulation or none present, rampant speculation and fraud and comparable unexamined assumptions.

If he also

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Pays for a world class aquarium on the waterfront in the seasport district, I say push this thing to the limit.

Towers go up there along with a new city hall and move the bus hub from Haymarket. Re-purpose government center as green space and mixed use to fix the ugly scar that depression plaza cut out of the old city.

With the world class colleges we have offering biological sciences, Woods Hole ,& Massachusetts Maritime Academy, it's sort of sad our aquarium is showing its age anyways. I'm sure they'd love new facilities, although they might like their location just fine.

It's also nice to see a developer dream (scheme?) big and also see the importance of ground floor retail and public use. Too bad it'll all be under water in 60 years.

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Panhandlers

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The large homeless/aggressive panhandling population that already work that area will set up housekeeping in that park immediately.

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So?

The same people that are currently there will continue to be there? That hardly seems like a reason to be for or against this project.

I'd be more concerned with this project making a big section of the harbor off-limits to the general public 24/7. Corporate parks never work.

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Fantastic, especially

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Fantastic, especially considering that there is a critical lack of luxury condos for the city's wealthiest. ...oh wait.

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If there wasn't a lack of

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If there wasn't a lack of luxury condos, then no one would be buying them. They are. You might want other kinds of housing, but that's a completely different argument than the one you're making.

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Glut of luxury is good

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It takes the wind out of the bags of the jackasses throwing in granite counter tops and metallic kitchen appliances in old tripledeckers and trying to claim they too are luxury!

Luxury owners are always looking to upgrade, just like luxury renters. As they move up it takes the pressure of older "luxury" stock and those properties that aren't really considered luxury. That's the housing relief we need, more, older stock opening in the middle (currently upper range) while the rich move on.

Like any market you don't want prices declining, or properties to be priced below demand as it creates all sorts of unintended problems. But increasing supply, even in the high end, will slow the price curve and allow people to slowly catch up.

Or we can try to build a bunch of "affordable units" and watch the queues grow and vastly outstrip the ability to provide those units. Anyone who's seen the lines on free dunkin donuts day knows what happens when you you offer something below market value.

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Until it isn't.

These are unexamined assumptions about speculations and gambles.

Recovery from 2007 was not robust and we have an overload of debt.

So a small slide back to recession would make an interesting bunch of bag holders.

The tax fallacy is worth examining.

You have a potential diminishing returns downward spiral as each new shiny glitz pit strains the system more than it feeds the system.

My own unexamined assumption is that older wealthies will die off over the next 10 to 20 years and they won't be replaced due to wealth concentration.

It is cute to see this childlike faith in a seemingly endless supply of wealthy chumps who will pick half assed Boston over the many other cities that make better strutting grounds and courting pavilions.

It's like "Rain Follows the Plow".

And what happens to tax revenue from the now down graded speculative glitz pits cobbled out of these lowly triple deckers?

The faux glitz pit dolts are not going to magically take it on the chin for resale.

There was this fellow named Ponzi.. maybe you've heard of him?

This is essentially Ponzi Economics as applied to urban housing.

Chiofaro

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It also fun to read your childish attempt to sound like you have a clue about economics. Anybody developing or buying or otherwise investing in Boston is just doing it because they can't afford a "real" city?? And all money invested in Boston will disappear in 20 years. Obviously, they'll all be buried with their money. Wow, you are a whiz and a visionary.

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We just had billions vaporize 7 years ago.

And conditions suggest it is possible again.

We had lots of idiots convinced house values only go up, but they don't.

Investment in Boston may not disappear but it won't pan out for developers at the level they expect either.

It would be interesting to find out just what the carrying capacity for luxury dumps is.

Lets make up a number like 500. You'll have a bunch of builders all convinced their project will get those 500 so we end up with 1500 or 2000.

Obviously someone loses the bet or no one makes what they think they should, etc.

Population is projected to grow at around 3% in metro Boston over the next few years.

Of that, how many will want luxury dumps?

Luxury is not a need driven thing even if basic housing is.

If people do not feel confident about the future they may hold off on luxury.

And the 60 and up demographic is about to increase significantly while the other end at the work force entry level of 20 to 25 is projected to decline significantly.

We'll end up with a lot of retirees winding life down but fewer coming along to buy the stuff after they are gone.

Nice whistling in the graveyard.

With any luck it'll be interesting whistling so I'll have some entertainment as I begin my long sleep there.

Oh and the Fed is signaling it is ready to let short term interest rates go up. This will shift the calculations as well.

The run up to 2007 was the most manic greed stampede since the 1920s and it was all centered on failed property speculation and aggravated by wealth concentration, just like the 20s.

Boston is something of an asset price bubble for now, but bubbles are known to pop.

If you can chose to live anywhere, what is the likelihood it'll be here rather than Seattle or SF?

The place runs on delusions of significance and has for a long time.

Adam was just at some TV gab fest not long ago at PBS where the host was wringing hands about how we can't attract the 'top talent' coming out of the credential mills because Boston isn't as appealing as other cities vying for this talent.

You'll probably rake in commissions for a while or sell at your imagined price if these are important goals, near term, but it isn't sustainable and it is pretty hard to get rid of a failed development project.

You basically take a bath, lose yer shirt, choke, etc.

Que?

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What in God's holy name are you blathering about?

Chiofaro

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Well I don't know why these developers don't have a clue - they could use your advice! you make NO sense. Hopefully prices will stabilize after so much building, but you'll have a long wait to see Detroit on the Atlantic. This is solid money, we're not talking flimsy sub-prime mortgages. Forbes just named Boston the LeadingnCity for the new economy -tecc/research/life sciences. A lot of reason for optimism.

33,000 new millionaires were

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33,000 new millionaires were created in Boston and Cambridge between 2008 and now. Each year, ever 11,000 people EARN over 1 mil. And file taxes in Massachusetts, so the move toward luxury housing is not only from wealthy retired people moving to Boston.

http://m.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/bbj_research_alert/2014/01/the-mass...

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/10/25/report-9300-millionaires-in-massac...

Those are not exciting stats.

So we have a load of million dollar filers a bit smaller than the population of Ipswich.. Whoa!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipswich,_Massachusetts

Hold me back. This is in a state of around what.?. 6 Million plus people?.

That's some prosperity. It's like 2 to 5% max.

Now I don't know about you but I get around a lot for an old guy who hates cars.

I was in Weston on Friday and in Dover last week.

I was in Hamilton in early June, Perhaps you've heard of it? Nice polo fields

You do realize that there are a lot of fabulous places to park these high rollers even in the urban core area?

And every idiot spec developer and their cousin figures they'll score this valued suitor.

It's cool to get the free pitiful data, thanks!

I hope you didn't spend a lot of time on this.

While the manic low end extreme of Detroit is unlikely, we aren't going to be Dubai either.

Adam trots out another grotesque excess luxury dump story every few days.

The rate of luxury dump production is outstripping luxury dump demand.

The Millionaire creation stat is fun too.

Lets see.

We divide 33,000 by 6 years and we get what?

About 5,500 or so a year but wait. only a third of that is reflected in tax filings?

What about the considerable number of old money sorts who are all set?

And where did the other 22,000 go?

Did they do a little dance and yell .. "Woohoo, I can finally ditch this wretched pit and go live in style in Manhattan!!" or wherever?

Wealthy person luxury seduction looks good on paper like fur raising or frog farming but when a bunch of grandiose clowns are all chasing the same small pool of fatsos, hilarity will ensue and no one among you is ready to believe what happens next.

And you all do realize that realtor credibility has taken its biggest hit since the roaring 20s.. right?

It isn't a zero sum game. There will be losers and they will put off facing it for longer than they will remain solvent.

It's good that you all have a leg up on this.

Here's a little intertoobz secret:

If you think someone is a crackpot and full of shit.. ignore them.

It pains me to think such fine folk as yourselves stewed on this for a whole week.

Ooo and some stats out of London.

The good old Financial Times.

Talk about conceited.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/795160a2-fe26-11e3-b4f1-00144feab7de.html#axzz...

Money Quote:

The BIS, the bank for central banks, has been a longstanding sceptic about the benefits of ultra-stimulative monetary and fiscal policies and its latest intervention reflects mounting concern that the rebound in capital markets and real estate is built on fragile foundations.

Parking????

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Come on folks the place need about 3,000 park spots. Other than that, go for it Don.

Why do I even bother to read comments...

1) Where does the money come for water and sewer upgrades? From the Boston Water & Sewer bills the residents, office tenants, and hotel owner will be paying, and from the ~$4 million in annual property tax payments the residents will be paying - payments they'll pay even though almost none of the owners is likely to have any children in the Boston Public School system, the #1 cost in the city's budget.

2) What happens to the Harbor Towers affects affordable housing? How does that happen? Those are all condos, owned by individuals.

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I say hurry up and have it

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I say hurry up and have it built, the building/garage on that corner parcel looks a little old and dirty, 1960's concrete look, a lot like city hall, nothing but ugly concrete, tear it down, Give Mr Chiofaro the green light to build, and see Boston to continue to shine..JUST DO IT...

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East Boston residents would

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East Boston residents would be extremely delighted to have another skyscraper added to Eastie's view from Piers park..

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If East Boston residents can

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If East Boston residents can't handle looking at sky scrappers, maybe they shouldn't live across the harbor from a major downtown area. Personally, I think East Bostonians are a little tougher than you give them credit for with your weak ass complaint.

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It should, yes

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But we keep electing people that just want to spend. An extra 100million in taxes? What can we do....let's build something!

I don't disagree that's the idea

Sure, development is supposed to raise property tax revenue and keep them low for the rest of us. Thing is, even with a building of this size, the effect on the city's budget is negligible / nominal / insignificant. $8 million out of a $2.8 billion (don't have this year's #s in front of me) = 0.2%. Even in the best of times, Boston's new residential development added less than $40 million per year - so, 1 percent? Add in the 2.5 percent increase in taxes on existing property (the limit) and that equals just 3.5%.

Yes, you can't lower anyone's taxes when the police, fire, and teachers' unions negotiate annual raises above that and when pension liabilities remain underfunded.

Oh, and you know what was supposed to lower my property tax by $200 per year? The local meals and sales taxes that Mayor Thomas M. Menino approved. But, yeah, that never happened, either.

I suppose

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If it were really going to be the fully transparent jell-o mold depicted in that render, it might not be so bad.

But I'm not inclined to trust Chiofaro or his architects.
Keeping him in check was among the handful of things I non-ironically liked about Mumbles.

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I don't get this part

conversion of a BRA parking lot on Long Wharf into parkland

This is the parking lot behind the Charthouse? How is this connected to the project? I guess to get any project approved you have to throw a bone to the BRA to get it done.

Chiofaro should donate those

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Chiofaro should donate those parcels of land near aquarium to city of Boston and have it be an extension of greenway and name that parcel Don Chiofaro park, instead of building condo's for the wealthy, I don't think anyone would want to live in a tower near an Aquarium , noisey school children , tourist, bums , drunks at night, the smell of urine, Just asked the Harbor Tower residents, lol. .oh, ya, It will be close to "Ferry service" ferrys go to Charlestown and Logan Airport they can be tourist for a day, and "The Blue line" yea I think the potential condo buyer wants to hop on the blue line 1 ' oclock in the morning and grab a Beer in Maverick square.

Is that....

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Barbara Eden in the lower left hand corner of the rendering...dang it, I knew this project was bewitched...