Straight and Narrow at the Globe

Other
Monday, June 15, 2009
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KPFs proposed Boston Arch (Courtesy KPF).

KPF's proposed Boston Arch (Courtesy KPF).

This past week, the Boston Globe‘s editorial page has been enthralled with the Greenway and Don Chiofaro’s proposed Boston Arch thereon. (We’d like to think they were inspired by us.) It began with an editorial criticizing the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s apparent foot-dragging on its Greenway development study, followed by an encapsulation of the comments from said editorial–many in favor of the project–and now an op-ed calling for greater density on the Greenway. While the Globe‘s editorial board is welcome to its opinions, it should not be as disingenuous as the power brokers it attempts to lampoon.

Let’s start with last Monday’s editorial. As soon as we saw it, red flags went up. Should Mayor Thomas Menino have begun the study years ago, as the board asserts? Yes, of course. But now that it is finally underway, there is no reason to rush it, especially to the benefit of a certain developer working nearby. We spoke with some people involved with the development study, and they actually said it is moving faster than normal. Furthermore, from what we heard, the developer was asked to wait for the completion of the study before certifying his project with the city.

Big as she gets, or the BRAs tentatively top proposed density for the Harbor Garage site atop which the Arch would rise. (Click to zoom.)

Big as she gets, or the BRA's tentatively top proposed density for the Harbor Garage site atop which the Arch would rise. (Click to zoom.)

Obviously, Chiofaro had no interest in waiting. Partly this is because he is old school, as they say, a former Harvard linebacker, among other things. Another issue, as argues today’s op-ed–which calls for no restrictions but good design–is that the BRA would likely set a height well below the nearly 800-feet Chiofaro is seeking. Indeed, of the six plans put forward for the garage site by the BRA’s planners, Greenberg and utile, heights ranged from 125 feet to two towers of 400 feet, something that could become sacrosanct once the plan is adopted.

So why not wait until the final plan is put forth before passing judgment? Why call for a rushed plan with limited inhibitions? Is this editorial outcry really about elections and transparency? Or is it about shilling for a connected Boston developer?

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