BPDA Board Approves Municipal Harbor Plan

By Phil Orlandella

Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) Board of Directors has approved the Downtown Waterfront District Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP) which they claim will enhance public access and use of the waterfront.

Many local residents and neighborhood organizations have expressed concerns about the Harbor Plan and have sent comments to BPDA expressing opinions on the projects.

BPDA comments on the approved project.

“The approval of the Harbor Plan sets forth a plan for future development to enhance public access and use of the waterfront, support water dependent uses, as well as to protect and activate the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

The comprehensive, community-based planning process started in March 2013, and has included 40 public meetings and two working sessions, walking tours and community workshops, and two public comment periods. Public comments shaped the final plan.

This MHP includes flexible development standards for two key parcels: (1) the Harbor Garage site, where a new structure up to 600 feet tall and with 50 percent of the project site as open space replaces the existing 70-foot high structured parking garage that provides virtually no open space; and (2) The Hook Wharf site, where the temporary home of the James Hook Lobster Company will be replaced with a new structure up to 305 feet tall, with 30 percent of the lot coverage as open space.

Projects in the Downtown waterfront planning area will contribute over $11.5 million for offsite investments in public realm and watersheet activation infrastructure. The projects will also support a $500,000 design and use planning process that will provide guidance for new and enhanced public realm including conversion of the Chart House parking lot to open space and coordinating with the New England Aquarium’s “Blue Way”.

The projects will also lead to better public access via Harborwalk and improved views and connectivity of the Rose Kennedy Greenway to Boston Harbor. Furthermore, Chapter 91 license fees will be used to fund programming and maintenance of open space and to support water transportation throughout the inner harbor and to the Harbor Islands. The MHP will now go to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for approval.”