Acting Mayor Kim Janey today cited Boston's unique vulnerability to rising sea levels in announcing she was withdrawing a waterfront plan developed by then mayor Marty Walsh under which the Chiofaro family would have finally gotten to build a skyscraper next to the New England Aquarium, long blocked because of the family patriarch's unceasing feud with Tom Menino, and which would have let developers replace the James Hook seafood trailer and the rest of its fire-ravaged pier with a hotel.
We have an opportunity and an obligation to meet this moment of the climate change crisis and protect our waterfront for generations to come. I look forward to working with local advocates and civic leaders to embed our shared values of resilience, equity, and access into the City’s development process Downtown and throughout all of our neighborhoods.
Janey added that rewriting the development plan would also let the city "continue addressing racism as a public health crisis."
Janey said she will convene a task force to draw up a plan for "equitable and resilient development throughout Boston’s waterfront neighborhoods" that will include residents, environmental justice organizations and "experts in resilient, equitable, and accessible waterfront development," with the goal of developing "waterfront development in Boston that generates community benefits and protection from extreme weather and pollution."
Key to whatever it is the unnamed members of this as yet un-assembled task force come up with would be making the waterfront better able to deal with rising sea levels - apparently greater than what past efforts by the Walsh administration have resulted in - "expanded access to the waterfront for all residents," buildings that do not require any new net energy from the regional grid and more green space, Janey said.
In a statement announcing her plans, Janey did not address the billions of dollars of development potentially equally at risk in the Seaport across Fort Point Channel - for which the Walsh administration had proposed a series of seawall, berms and even dunes to help flood-proof the area.
After Tom Menino made sure that Don Chiofaro could not replace the Harbor Garage with pretty much anything, in fact, that he could not even file plans with the then BRA, his company and the city finally kissed and made up under Marty Walsh. Last year, Chiofaro's company filed formal plans for a 42-story, 600-foot-high office and residential tower atop an 1,100-space garage.
Also last year, developers filed plans for a 25-story hotel on the half-acre James Hook site, where a 2008 fire destroyed the long-standing seafood business, later replaced by a smaller trailer.