(c) 2001 The Boston Herald

City wants Fan Pier's harbor amenities first
by Scott Van Voorhis

Saturday, May 5, 2001

City development officials could face another fight with Fan Pier developers, this time over which parts to build first.

City Hall wants a bevy of waterfront residences and public harborside amenities to take top priority, not a set of lucrative office towers further from the waterline, said Linda Haar, the Boston Redevelopment Authority planning chief.

Sources say Fan Pier developer Nicholas Pritzker, a Chicago hotel magnate, and his local building team are mulling building the office towers first - and leaving waterfront amenities until later.

Haar said yesterday that Fan Pier developers should start with the waterfront residential buildings. That could move up work on the long-planned and much touted array of amenities for the waterfront site in South Boston's Seaport District, including parks, a tidal pool and harbor walk. Haar also cast doubt on the possibility that the nine-block project might be built over 10 years. ``It is difficult to phase the public infrastructure,'' Haar said.

But Fan Pier's developers, faced with a weakening market, are grappling with the economics of the $1.2 billion project. The developers are exploring building the project in several phases over the decade, sources say.

That could mean starting work first on the project's office towers or its centerpiece Hyatt hotel, and putting off more expensive work near the waterline, including associated public amenities. All told, Pritzker, whose family controls the Hyatt Hotels Corp., will have to foot the bill for $250 million in infrastructure, from a 2,300-car underground parking garage to the tidal pool.

After surmounting years of various regulatory reviews and road blocks, Pritzker's team is hoping to win final approval by year's end. But before that happens, the developers and City Hall must agree on how the project will be developed, observers say.

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