Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan

ABC has participated in the Municipal Harbor Plan Advisory Committee since it was established in March 2013.  ABC submitted a letter to the Boston Redevelopment Authority in December commenting on recent developments in the process.  We supported consideration of financial feasibility and refined definitions of components of the plan known as amplifications, substitute provisions, and offsets.  The process has moved slowly because the BRA has been engaged in continuing discussion with proponents of the Harbor Garage redevelopment in an effort to define a feasible proposal consistent with provisions of the evolving Municipal Harbor Plan. ABC’s comments support provisions of the plan that take into account the unique characteristics of the Downtown Boston Waterfront. The Public Realm Plan prepared in 2014 provides a useful analysis of the area.  ABC endorses supporting access to existing water dependent uses that generate so much of the vitality of the waterfront.  Area-wide analysis of the public and private open space shows that there is a generous amount of open space already present within the boundaries of the district supplemented by the adjacent Greenway open space.  Rather than calling for additional open space up to 50% of the lot area that would be required as a baseline, we concur with the recommendation that increasing the proposed allowable new building footprint to 70% lot coverage is justified.  We believe that additional ground floor public uses will help to activate and enhance what might otherwise be underutilized open space.  We believe that providing more open space where open space is already abundant is not a critical need; therefore, we suggested that a reasonable offset for greater height or density would be contribution to maintain portions of the existing open space. ABC supports the concept of the setting of overall height standards based on the Greenway Guidelines established in 2010 with limited exceptions allowing more height and density in specific locations in return for greater public benefits. Finally, another key ABC comment is continued emphasis on the importance of addressing issues of sea level rise and resilience in the Municipal Harbor Plan.  A proposed “substitute provision” would allow additional height for the relocation of mechanical equipment to upper floors, for instance

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