Don Chiofaro, City Hall kiss and make up; he gets OK to proceed with his Aquarium Garage tower

In a letter to the state, the BPDA says it's resolved its long-standing issues with Don Chiofaro and the city is now OK with him replacing the Aquarium garage with a 600-foot tower (yes, just one), as part of a waterfront master plan that would also see new open space at what is now a Long Wharf parking lot and a new deck for the Harborwalk near the Moakley Bridge.

In exchange, the developer, who had long feuded with Tom Menino over the fate of the garage, promised $10 million to the New England Aquarium for improvements to the wharf it sits on.

In addition, Chiofaro agreed to find a way a way to provide at least 250 parking spaces to Aquarium visitors on weekdays and 500 spaces on weekends, both during the tear down of the garage and after the new tower goes up.

Chiofaro also agreed to pay the Aquarium up to $10 million for any revenue losses caused by visitors scared away from the Aquarium by a giant construction site in front - and to lend the Aquarium up to $20 million more in case of visitors going somewhere else. As part of the overall Aquarium deal, the current IMAX theater building might be torn down to provide more waterfront open space.

Chiofaro still needs to file a detailed new proposal for a tower - over they years, he had proposed a variety of configurations, none of which were ever good enough to satisfy Menino, some of which were too high for the FAA. The BPDA says Chiofaro agreed the new tower would "minimize net new shadow and avoid net new shadow on Long Wharf seaward of the Marriott."

The letter to the state - which has final say over all waterfront development - is an amendment to an earlier overall BPDA plan for the waterfront from Long Wharf to the Moakley Bridge that also calls for replacement of the parking lot behind the Chart House on Long Wharf with a new park and for connecting two ends of the Harborwalk with a new deck along and over Fort Point Channel behind the current James Hook lobster pound. Hook has agreed to pay $4 million for that work as part of its own proposal for a tower on that site.

Update letter from BPDA to state (521k PDF).

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Comments

ouch

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Wowowow the aquarium really raked him over the coals. $10 million gift, and 250-500 spaces on his own property in perpetuity. Plus all the other potential loans and damages. And you know the aquarium will try to find some way to claim financial damage.

Looks like Chiafaro finally gets his tower (Aka how to use outdated zoning and political connections to extort developers)

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Easy to Cheer

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When they're extorting a billion dollar skyscraper.

But less exciting when these same "neighborhood groups" are extorting you for trying to add an addition to your house or build a garage. For most of these groups, the only way you'll get any support is if you agree to write a check to their organization of choice.

Amazing how these local baseball teams seem to need $5k for new uniforms every single year...

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Really?

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Any specific examples?

Heard of neighborhood opposition and "mitigation" for large projects, but never for a garage or an addition.

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See Also

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The North Cambridge Stabilization Committee
Alston
JP

etc.

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What Stevil said

I've seen the city give people in my neighborhood a hard time about small add-ons–as its handing the waterfront over on a silver platter. Can't say I've seen much of it the other way around, personally.

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it happens with the big ones too

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Most developers just know how the game goes and expect a byzantine and almost outwardly corrupt process.

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For Mass: Yes to towers. No to stadiums

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The Fenway alumni group of Janet Marie Smith and Larry Lucchino had decent plans for Pawtucket. A new stadium right next to the proposed MBTA station in Pawtucket/Central Falls. However they were undercut by RISD and Yale urban design professors who kept shouting out Mass sites. The same professors also publicly joked about what was the bigger cesspool, Pawtucket or Bridgeport, Conn. I'm sure Pawtucket was thrilled. Baker and every Mass city has to put up a unified "No" wall so the Pawtucket stadium mess doesn't become a 38 Studios in reverse. Smith and Lucchino can stay with McCoy and learn from the past.

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Meh

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The Aquarium is one of the cultural jewels of the city. It's never, not busy. Then there's the harbor walk that's increasingly becoming a defacto attraction itself.

These concessions are a drop in the bucket compared to bank he'll be making with brand new, harbor side real estate with views.

I don't really see anything in this area or in these concessions as zero sum. Ensuring the bussiness and institutions next to the property don't fall into hardships only increases the worth of the building anyways.

Menino's fight was about moving City Hall to the parcel anyways, wasn't it?

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It does not say he gives parking spaces to anybody.

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It says that he will Provide parking for the Aquarium. I take that to mean the will be available for a fee, just like the spaces in the current garage, which he owns.

Nothing for Harbor Towers though. You can hear those residents booting up their AOL accounts to tell us about it.

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Still has to get approval

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Still has to get approval from neighbors, city can’t just give him the ok to build without approval from neighbors.

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The City

okays projects often when there is significant neighborhood opposition and developers are given multiple zoning variances.

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Cheapest and the most

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Cheapest and the most unappealing looking building in Boston is one international place, it ruined the Boston skyline.

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And the cost?

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I wonder how much our elected corrupt will get in the brown bag.

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pahking

The whole parking thing always killed me.

The aquarium doesn't own the garage, yet claim they would go out of business if they didn't have those parking spaces. New tower aside, it's his garage - he could just close it any time he wanted to...

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this.

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This is what I find so bizarre. It's not a public garage, nor was it ever. If the city is so concerned about parking at the aquarium, they should do something about it on their own. Hmm wasn't there a report about underutilized and under-leveraged properties and lots that the BRA owns?

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The big problem

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Chiofaro overpaid for the property and said the only way he makes money is to build 600 feet. Menino, in a rare case I agree with him, said the plan calls for 1/3 of that. Too bad. Your loss.

Now Walsh says go ahead. So a developer's ability to make money is what counts for long term planning around here?

Ditto for the Winthrop Square garage.

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