[Update: The following solicitation for public comment expired on 2/24/98.]


URGENT: Public Comment Period Expires 2/24/98

The Pritzker family, Chicago-based owners of the Hyatt Corporation landowners of the Fan Pier tract adjacent to the Federal Courthouse, have filed a development proposal including an 800-room Hyatt hotel, a luxury condo tower, three 250-foot office towers and one 350-foot office tower for the site along the water's edge. This proposal is already being reviewed for approval by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

The first public presentation of the Pritzker Development Proposal was at an unpublicized meeting of the South Boston Waterfront Committee at the Condon Health Center on January 7, 1998. Excluding members of the South Boston Waterfront Committee, Pritzker family architects, consultants and legal counsel, less than 20 public attendees were present. The proposal was also presented in a scoping session for MEPA approval on January 29, 1998, open to the public but also unpublicized by project proponents.

The Pritzker project, entitled "Fan Pier Development" with proponents of the Fan Pier Land Company and HBC Associates, was not filed as a new development project. Instead, to expedite its approval and to bypass more recently implemented environmental regulations, the Pritzker project was proposed as an Environmental Update (EOEA# 4426) to a decade-old Pritzker project already approved by the Commonwealth in 1986.

Since the 1986 proposal, many state and federally funded environmental changes and improvements have benefitted private owners of seaport property. These include $4 Billion spent on harbor cleanup and $1 Billion allocated for new seaport transit systems and infrastructure. Other recent additions include the construction of a $650 million state-of-the-art Boston Convention Center.

The Pritzker development proposal would serve as a short-term (5-15 year) revenue source to fund the already-approved convention center development and includes ancillary services for the convention center. It is for these reasons that SAND believes that the Pritzker plan has achieved support of the BRA without undergoing public scrutiny (see related articles A and B). In fact, the Pritzker proposal is in violation of the BRA's own height restrictions as stated in its Seaport Master Plan interim report.

SAND's position on the Pritzker proposal is being developed, and will require an extension of the public review process. At minimum, SAND requires a re-submission of the proposal to MEPA as a new development (subject to Chapter 91 environmental regulations), not simply an environmental update to an abandoned proposal. At minimum, SAND will also request that the proponents comply with BRA height, density and public realm regulations to be published in its final Seaport Master Plan later this year.

Public comments for MEPA must be received no later than February 24 (extended from February 9).