This story ran on page D03 of the Boston Globe on 4/4/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

BRA frowns on Midway office tower
Developer urged to cap height of Fort Point Channel project at 150 feet

By Richard Kindleberger, Globe Staff, 4/4/2001

The city signaled yesterday that a 300-foot tower planned as the centerpiece of an office-residential complex in Fort Point Channel should be cut in half.

A letter to Beacon Capital Partners, the developer, directed it to study the project's impact if the taller of two proposed towers is limited to 150 feet. The shorter tower, proposed at 150 feet by Beacon, would then be capped at 100 feet.

The so-called scoping letter from the Boston Redevelopment Authority also lists alternatives that should be looked at, including ''no build'' and ''full build.'' But BRA spokeswoman Susan Elsbree said the implication is clear.

''We're telling them we will accept nothing above 150 feet,'' she said. ''That's a major policy decision for us.''

The $300 million project, dubbed Midway, has sparked anxiety on the South Boston Waterfront since it was unveiled two months ago.

It holds the promise of rehabilitating 11 aging brick warehouses on its 7-acre site along Midway and A streets. But activists have worried about increased congestion and whether the plan includes sufficient housing.

Asked about the tower, Steve Hollinger of the Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design said cutting the height would not end his group's uneasiness. ''We're really concerned about the overall impact of an office project on an evolving neighborhood,'' he said. ''We want to see a mix of uses.''

Beacon had not received the scoping letter late yesterday and could not respond to the reported cap on the tower, said spokesman Alex McCallum. He added: ''We're looking forward to reading it, studying it, and taking the Midway project another step forward.''

The proposed 1.75 million-square-foot development would contain offices, shops, restaurants, and so-called live-work space for artists. Artists already rent lofts in the underutilized existing buildings and have criticized the plan as not offering enough replacement space for them.

The BRA letter, noting the agency's policy of requiring that one-third of development in the area be residential, directs Beacon to detail how that would be carried out. It also calls for a detailed traffic and transit analysis and for studies of such impacts as air quality, wind, shadow, and solar glare.

Richard Kindleberger can be reached by e-mail at kindleberger@globe.com.

This story ran on page D03 of the Boston Globe on 4/4/2001.

© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

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