The following SAND comments were submitted to Trudy Coxe, Secretary of Environmental Affairs in response to a hotel or office tower proposed by Boston Edison along the Fort Point Channel, next to Russia Wharf (at the Northeast corner of the M/V Chelsea Ferry between Congress St. and Northern Ave.).
Ms Trudy Coxe, Secretary
- Executive Office of Environmental Affairs Department
- 100 Cambridge Street
- Boston MA
re: Comment on 500 Atlantic Avenue, Boston
EOEA # 10546
Additional rigor should attend the evaluation of this proposal, as there is no coverage by a Municipal Harbor Plan or overall district plan of the BRA presently. In the absence of a Municipal Harbor Plan applying to this site, the fullest interpretation of Chapter 91 requirements should be made. In the absence of a completed BRA master plan and updated zoning for this parcel, strict adherence to the interim plan, the IPOD and close consultation with the BRA should be required, to be able to conform to the current form of planning thought. As the proposed structure would be double the height of nearby buildings it should withstand the closest scrutiny to ensure a minimum of deleterious effects.
A full community review process should be required to be instituted for all future planning and construction phases of the project. SAND & FPAC should be parties to this ongoing process. Other abutters, community groups and appropriate agencies should be included in these reviews.
There are many assertions and possible actions that are phrased so that the proponent will not in any fashion be bound to abide by either their letter or intent. Each of these should be construed such that the proponent is required to institute said measures or achieve the desired goals. Sufficient time and planning has passed so that the proponent should be quite clear as to what can be accomplished on this parcel and the public should not be led astray by empty promises. The project proponent should not be permitted to rely upon the presumed action of others, without firm and enforceable agreements, for the provision of required amenities or to have them accepted as fulfilling any other obligations.
This project is not fully responsive to setbacks and opens space requirement of the City of Boston's Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD), and to Chapter 91 regulations and no further consideration should be given until the proponent brings this proposal into conformance.
The structure occupies over 50% of the site area, which violates both Chapter 91 and BRA IPOD restrictions. Building footprint should be reduced to achieve compliance.
Building height should be reduced such that total height, including that of the ventilation stack, with any extensions, shall be at or less than the BRA IPOD limitation.
Shading of Mass Hort Parcels and reduction of daylighting to reach that site should be evaluated. No actions should be taken which would preclude the plans for either a conservatory for tropical specimens or an exterior garden on that parcel. Care should also be taken to minimize shading of the waterfront during the day.
Water Related Issues
This project proponent should make contributions to the provision of water transit with sheltered waiting area & benches, and appropriate amenities such as toilet facilities.
The water sheet is a limited resource in this area. It provides one of the most basic amenities and distinguishing characteristics of the district and greatly improves the values, in many respects, to the public and abutting properties. Therefore the activation of the water sheet in its many opportunities should be encouraged, but its occupancy and coverage should not.
The M.V. Chelsea is currently moored in areas identified as dedicated to a future water ferry service. As of this date there is no plan of the Chelsea to relocate, indeed the operations of the craft ate likely to expand greatly with the addition of conference and function facilities and a rowing club in the near future. This conflict should be clarified and resolved. The resulting plan for ferry operations should be construed so as not to interfere with the continued operation and location of the Chelsea.
It is unclear if there will be 24 hour access to the waterfront through this site and at which points. Use by the general public should be signed and encouraged.
Specific plans and operational guidelines should be established to ensure the publics full right of access to and through the site, and use of the waterfront, 24 hours a day. Elaboration of the plan and operations should clearly specify how this is to be encouraged and facilitated.
Anticipation of completion of this segment of Harborwalk should be anticipated with provision for the eventual connection to adjacent parcels.
Width of the 24 hr, publicly accessible waterfront should be maximized. 12 feet is insufficient to provide adequate utilization. Avoidance of shadowing from the development structure should be ensured. Overhangs, canopies and arcades should be considered in order to provide shelter from the elements when needed.
No further encroachment into Fort Point Channel should be permitted. No rationale for the necessity of this action has been advanced. Additional permitting to fill should be required, and a full set of hearings and examination of impacts concluded before any additional filling can be agreed to. The historic importance of the existing seawall is too great, and the benefit too small, to permit this action. The historic seawall should be rebuilt with original or equivalent materials in the precise location and configuration as it currently exists.
Transportation issues and reduction of vehicular traffic should be fully addressed. The appropriateness of a 339 car parking garage, relative to hotel or office occupancy is not clear, and appears inadequate to the demand which will be generated by the facility. Mechanisms to ensure that additional traffic burdens will not be realized should be required. The project is located in one of the most intensively developed areas of the city with strong competition for parking spaces. All efforts should be made to shift vehicular use to mass transit, water shuttle, HOV, bicycle and pedestrian modes. These actions must be clearly delineated and thoroughly evaluated so that they can be implemented successfully.
Construction phases should be clear as to how adverse traffic impacts will not be realized. Any exploration of use of water sheet for staging or laydown operations should be explored and clearly stated
Timing of construction operation and project timeline should be provided to ensure that it does not conflict with other construction operations
Wheel washers should be provided to ensure that construction vehicles do not bring dirt onto streets. Full mitigation of environmental effects of construction phase should be made.
All potential archeological resources on site should be identified prior to construction and a thorough plan to excavate and conserve them should be drafted. Care should be exercised during excavation to identify and retrieve items of archeological interest in the historic fill area. Local historians and conservators should be identified prior to excavation and engaged to catalog and house these finds.
Opportunities for structure to be energy efficient , and not solely dependent on electric power, should be evaluated and implemented.
Jon Seward, on behalf of
Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design