This story ran on page B01 of the Boston Globe on 3/24/2000.

City demands increase in housing on waterfront
By Anthony Flint, Globe Staff, 3/24/2000

In an attempt to make the South Boston Waterfront a place more people call home, the city will require developers to build more residential buildings and fewer office towers, officials said yesterday.

''This area has to be mixed-use, not another downtown,'' said Mark Maloney, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

The new policy requires that at least one-third of any new development close to the water be residential. At the same time, no more than one-third of new development can be office space. The policy will be written into new zoning rules for the entire area, Maloney said.

The policy follows mounting criticism that city plans for the emerging district allowed too much office-space development. Under recently drafted guidelines, environmentalists and harbor activists complained that the city's new waterfront would have been too dense and too high, blocking off the water instead of opening public access to it.

The criticism has been chiefly aimed at the nine-block, $1.2 billion complex on Fan Pier proposed by the Chicago-based Pritzker family and local partners Spaulding & Slye Colliers. That plan calls for three major office towers, reaching heights of 250 feet and in one case nearly 300 feet.

Maloney said he expects that the Fan Pier developers can make adjustments to adhere to the new policy, reducing office space and adding to three proposed residential structures closest to the water, near the new federal courthouse. Approximately 400 units of mostly high-end housing are proposed in the Fan Pier complex now.

The policy would also apply to proposals in the pipeline by developer Steve Karp for Anthony's Pier 4, just east of Fan Pier, and by developer Frank McCourt for a 25-acre, L-shaped parcel running along New Northern Avenue and south to Summer Street.

Maloney said that even with the new policy, the city does not expect to see much more than 4,000 units of housing in the South Boston Waterfront. Council President James M. Kelly has insisted there be no more than that number of units in the district.

''We don't think we'll come anywhere near exceeding those goals,'' Maloney said.

The push for more residential development and less office space began after a meeting between Maloney and the Conservation Law Foundation yesterday, the leading environmental group monitoring development on the waterfront.

The Conservation Law Foundation told Maloney that the draft Municipal Harbor Plan - a technical blueprint allowing higher buildings than state environmental laws would otherwise permit - did not do enough to protect public interests.

The group said it was prepared to file a lawsuit if the Municipal Harbor Plan went through as drafted, a move that could potentially halt development on the waterfront that Mayor Thomas M. Menino is eager to see move forward.

Conservation Law Foundation President Douglas I. Foy said he welcomed the new policy as an important step. ''We've been hammering away saying that's where we should go - less density, lower heights, buildings further from the water, and more housing,'' he said.

Maloney said he listened carefully to the groups' concerns but that the new policy reflected the mayor's longstanding goal for a mix of uses in the district, including stores, restaurants, hotels, offices, residential buildings, the World Trade Center, and the planned new $700 million convention center.

''This wasn't based on the conversation with CLF as much as us wanting to be real clear on what we want to happen down there,'' Maloney said. ''I come to the table with an interest in residential. The Municipal Harbor Plan called for 25 percent residential. It made sense to increase that minimum and cap the office space as well. That will add to the 7-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day atmosphere of the neighborhood.''

Interest in the South Boston Waterfront, roughly 1,000 acres of prime real estate that is now largely parking lots and industrial land, has intensified recently as developers come forward with proposals and the city puts the finishing touches on the Municipal Harbor Plan.

This story ran on page B01 of the Boston Globe on 3/24/2000.

©Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

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