Harbor Towers residents to sue over planned Chiofaro skyscraper next door

The condo association at the Harbor Towers says it plans to sue the state over its recent approval of a city plan to allow developer Don Chiofaro's proposed replacement of the Aquarium garage.

Condo trust leaders say they want to see the hulking garage replaced as much as anyone, but not with a possible 600-foot tower that would violate state laws against putting "intensive, non-water use" projects right on the water:

In short, we believe the construction of a 600-foot intensive, mixed-use tower on the Garage block in close proximity to the shoreline of Boston Harbor would violate state law. And we believe the recent approval of a 600-foot building envelope for the site by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs violates regulations pertaining to municipal harbor plans.

Chiofaro has been fighting with tower residents, the city and the New England Aquarium for years over his plan. But Chiofaro, the city and the aquarium have resolved their differences and are best buds now.

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Comments

These people live in a tower

By on

These people live in a tower on the waterfront but think another tower next door is a problem? Good grief. NIMBYism is a disease. It’s long past time for those of us opposed to this nonsense to show up to meetings and tell our city officials ‘enough already.’ Stop listening to the vocal minority.

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Voting is closed. 80

Harbor Towers was a mistake

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Yes - they got theirs - but it doesn't mean we should double down on this mistake.

The real problem is that zoning is made up by the mayor (through the BPDA) on the spot.

There was no zoning process to make a tower this tall - and in fact the prior administration determined that such a tall tower was inappropriate. Now somehow it's appropriate. This is technically illegal in Mass (it's called spot zoning) but the BPDA has all kinds of ways around this.

This is being done for one reason only - $$$ - the city needs the tax dollars so they are approving it to get more money (and Don gets rich along the way) at the expense of a better waterfront aesthetic.

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Voting is closed. 49

Yes

1) spot zoning is a problem, and
2) the BPDA pretty much plans via spot zoning.

However, NIMBYs contribute to this by creating pitched battles over every single project in this city. It results in a negotiation of what the payoff is going to be every time.

I don't believe that 600 feet here is "inappropriate." There aren't many parcels left to go "tall" in this city (600 feet isn't really that tall by the standards of major urban center downtowns). What we have here is a group of trust fund baby rich white people pretending to care about the environment when their only concern is themselves.

Downtowns are where we should build tall. Obstructionism is not the answer.

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There are plenty of "parcels

left to go tall" if you demolish the buildings that currently occupy the current sites.

No need to repeat mistakes made 40 years ago.

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No

By on

Unfortunately, this isn't true. Name a single major downtown project that has been materially downsized or quashed in the past 15 years due to "NIMBYism". It just doesn't happen. Even Columbus Center would have collapsed under its own financial weight if it had proceeded as an air rights project without government help (and I'm not even talking bra money and envelopes).

It is a false narrative to say that a) NIMBYism prevents anything from getting built or b) anyone gets "payoffs" (other than affordable housing).

As for 600 feet here - it's a matter of opinion - but I think that buildings on par with Boston Harbor Hotel, maybe the Intercontinental are much more in keeping with this area so you don't have a buildings looming over the waterfront (like we learned with Harbor Towers, which aren't even that tall). There are plenty of locations to go tall downtown - or even in places like the North End or south Boston (which won't happen any time soon). But this isn't about planning - it's politics and money (and quite honestly I'd bet you could throw 100 stones and not hit a trust fund baby in Harbor towers - doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and others that have made all or most of their way in this world - but trust fund babies that got their money from mummy and daddy are literally almost impossible to find anywhere).

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Please

I didn't say projects were quashed. What they are is cut down in height and number of units virtually everywhere. Pick a single major development in the last 15 years that WASN'T cut down in height or density.

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Of course

every development is cut down in size. This is because the developers deliberately come in with a dreadful project, then when there is opposition, they bring it down to the size of a bad project. It's all in their script. Then they appear before agencies and public meetings to say--look how responsive we are, we wanted xxx amount of feet and we "listened" to the abutters and brought down the height/mass/footprint.

The script is played over and over again in almost every single proposal. They try to characterize legitimate objections as merely barriers unreasonably thrown up. The community payments are as much for the benefit of the planning and approval commissions as they are for the beneficiaries.

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Appropriate concerns

with regard to traffic/parking can and should be dealt with via improved mass transit. Concerns about sanitation, etc. can and also should be dealt with.

Mindless harping about height and shade are usually coming from extremist NIMBYs who would rather see absolutely nothing get built in DOWNTOWN Boston. This is a city. If you don't like new skyscrapers being built, move out of the city.

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No ome

is saying you can't build tall buildings in the city, where they belong. They are saying that ringing the waterfront and harborwalk with very tall buildings should not be the master plan for development. People want smart long-term thoughtful planning and not what amounts to spot zoning decisions.

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Manhattan is thataway

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There is no need for anything in this city with more than 30-40 stories downtown. There are already tons of office vacancies downtown and bizillion dollar condos aren't helping anyone but bizillionares. Instead of skycrapers downtown, the places where more density are needed are outlier areas where some of the single family - triple deckers could be replaced with 4-5 story buildings.

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Voting is closed. 27

Again

By on

None quashed

Per CW's comment, name one materially changed. Say 10 stories, or even by 5 stories. I can't think of one, especially one that wasn't an over the top initial recommendation. It's a nice populist position to say Nimbys stop or limit these downtown developments, but it doesn't jive with reality. Minor changes to traffic patterns, design etc usually wirhin reason, yes. Materially reduced in size doesn't happen.

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And you know

damn well there are payoffs. We call them "community benefits" or whatever other term is being used for funneling $20,000 to the local community group that magically goes away once the check is cut.

By the way, I'm absolutely fine with affordable housing requirements, with contributions to local parks, etc. But everyone knows what the game is, and everyone is lined up to get their piece of the action.

While I'm proud of the elite doctors, lawyers, and associated members of the upper 1% always trying to keep Boston from growing as well as keeping out newer members of the upper 1%, this is where we should be housing rich people that want urban living. If people are concerned about such units being used as purely investment vehicles, then let's tax units that are not being used as a primary residence.

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Voting is closed. 29

Payoffs? ?

By on

Any specific examples?

I haven't seen one in the 15 years or so I've followed this. Maybe long ago, but not in the last couple of decades.

Again, great talking points, just not true.

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Voting is closed. 30

Apparently

You don't even get the weekly BPDA emails that brag about the payoffs. I'd sign up for their informative newsletter.

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Apparently not

By on

Heard about some of these deals in the 70s and 80s in Back Bay and maybe into the 90s in fenway.

Care to enlighten us with a few detailed examples from this email citing project and payoff?

Or are you just a shillin and a trollin?

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Voting is closed. 24

"Shillin and trollin"

Look who's talking. How much do the Harbor Towers folks pay you? Or are you a resident?

Again, sign up for the newsletter. Or attend their monthly meeting.

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Live in back bay for 25 years

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Follow this stuff all the time and havent seen any "go away" money in ages. Why? The city knows how to show you either don't have standing or knows you don't have stamina. Virtualy impossible for a resident group to stop a project.

Don't live in HT and think it's an eyesore which is why i don't think we should double down on this oversized beast hard on the water.

And you still haven't given a single example that you claim are legion.

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It's called "mitigation."

By on

A more appropriate term would be "legalized extortion." Because that's exactly what it is. Look at the nonsense that Delaware North was forced to capitulate to in exchange for permission to construct the Fleece Fleet Center now TD Garden.

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Recently?

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When was that negotiated, like 25 years ago?

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"in keeping with the area"

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If they build a 600 foot tower, then 600 foot towers will be "in keeping with the area". The "look" of the Boston waterfront is nothing so special that people shouldn't be able to build or innovate

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I can name several proposed

By on

I can name several proposed towers in downtown Boston that were quashed due to NiMBYsm in the last few years.

I. 1 Bromfield - 59 story
Ii. 30-story proposed tower at the former Felt night club
Iii. 171 Tremont strew 350+ Feet tower

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Nimbyism?

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Opposing projects that require incredible variances because they are several times what zoning allows isn't nimby. I'll be the first to admit Boston's zoning needs to be updated, but planning by variance is not updating zoning. Or should I go buy a house in West Roxbury and complain about the Nimbys when the city tells me i can't put in a 6 family house.

C'mon. Be serious

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That’s exactly what’s

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That’s exactly what’s happening these days. People believe 6fam should go on a 5000 SQ ft lot. People are being labeled NIMBYS for expecting the city to adhere to its own zoning code.

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Please explain

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Why shouldn't a six family go on a 5000 square foot lot?

Most triple deckers are on 2000 square foot lots or less.

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That’s exactly what’s

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That’s exactly what’s happening these days. People believe 6fam should go on a 5000 SQ ft lot. People are being labeled NIMBYS for expecting the city to adhere to its own zoning code.

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Voting is closed. 24

Mass NIMBYism has to be dealt with

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When new development runs up against old schools of thought, nobody wins. These existing residents live in a waterfront tower and decry another waterfront tower. What's the real motive. Will these current residents run in horror when they see someone that doesn't look like them residing in the new tower? Is this another case of Walpole NIMByism? No one complained when trash trains and industrial waste rolled down the Walpole tracks down to Foxboro, but a passenger train coming from Hyde Park and Roxbury, Revolt!

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NIMBYs

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It's another "I've got mine, you can't have yours" trope.

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The only thing these

NIMBY clowns care about is preserving their property values, aka their precious views.

"It was fine when a skyscraper was put up for me, but not for you."

In other words...

"I've made it on board the ship, pull up the ladder!!"

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Those clowns truly are

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Those clowns truly are insufferable. I met one recently who was extremely proud of the all the obstacles they've been able to throw the developer's way to preserve "my Custom House view." I also just hate how ugly the harbor towers are. Complete eyesores. If it were up to me, I'd tear all of it down and start over with much more attractive towers.

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At least that

particularly selfish jerk admitted what they are. The nine-page insanity sent to the state that Adam attached here is full of BS item after BS item - otherwise known as a Gish Gallop.

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They are such entitled turds.

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They are such entitled turds. This building isn't even going to block their water views! If they want rights to a 360 degree view then buy all the neighboring properties. Otherwise they should STFU.

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i·ro·ny1

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i·ro·ny1
ˈīrənē/Submit
noun
the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
"“Don't go overboard with the gratitude,” he rejoined with heavy irony"
synonyms: sarcasm, causticity, cynicism, mockery, satire, sardonicism
"that note of irony in her voice"
a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.
plural noun: ironies
"the irony is that I thought he could help me"
synonyms: paradox, incongruity, incongruousness
"the irony of the situation"
a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character's words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.
noun: dramatic irony

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Back when these eyesores were built

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They had a hard time convincing people to live there. That's how a lot of riff raff ended up owning multiple units purchases for very reasonable prices - like $60K a piece!

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Waive Bye to Condo Reserves

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Most residents are already paying $1,000+ a month in condo dues and I'm sure with Diane Rubin on board at $1,000/hr this will only increase soon. I'd hate to be one of the residents living here that aren't supportive of these NIMBY legal challenges disguised as "protecting waterfront open space..." Wait till your perspective buyers get a load of the new monthly condo fees after they suck the caufers dry!

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Harbor Towers are 2 ugly

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Harbor Towers are 2 ugly concrete towers that rival Boston’s city hall building, and god knows what these towers look inside 1970’s decor.

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Wrong. Some of those condo's

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Wrong. Some of those condo's are absolutely gorgeous. Just because the exterior is ugly doesn't mean the condo owners units are ugly. Your statement is judging a book by its cover in its purest form.

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Harbor Towers, etc.

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If I remember correctly, some years back some residents of the InterContinental Hotel filed a suit against the developer(s) of Russia Wharf. One of the things in their suit was obstruction of light, views, etc.
The case was thrown out of court, I think. In any event, Russia Wharf was built.

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