Removal of the Harbor Garage is an important step in enlivening the public realm along the downtown waterfront, Central Wharf, Boston Harbor, and The Greenway. Redeveloping this site is an opportunity to create a place that can be enjoyed by all. However, replacing it with The Pinnacle at Central Wharf—another structure that isolates, excludes, and inhibits public access to the waterfront—is not the right decision nor is it what our city needs. Building a massive tower that would be nearly double the height of other buildings along the waterfront on land that is in the public is not enough for the resulting area to be an accessible, beneficial public open space for all to enjoy. It is clear that the public realm is an afterthought in this project—a project that uses adjacent publicly or privately owned spaces to create its major benefits. Put simply, the Pinnacle at Central Wharf is the wrong project, at the wrong time, and in the wrong place.
Equity should be a number one priority for this site; sadly, we’ve all seen what happened in the development of the Seaport. Our city took what was essentially a blank canvas and created a place that is unwelcoming and inaccessible to communities of color in Boston. If there is one place where that inequity can be offset, it is at Central Wharf and the downtown waterfront. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to intentionally create a space that is adjacent to and integrated with one of the most inclusive and popular waterfront destinations in our city.
The removal of the Harbor Garage is a chance to build a better future for everyone, instead of catering to just a few. It is a chance to prove that Boston will not repeat the mistakes of the past that have displaced communities and discouraged community members from participating in the process. We need an integrated and intentional planning process that places a premium on equity, climate resiliency, and community input to protect the downtown waterfront and people’s ability to meaningfully engage with it. This is a chance for the people of Boston and the Commonwealth, not private interests, to create a shared vision for this special area that connects Boston Harbor to the city and the waterfront to The Greenway.
We need a waterfront for all, not the Pinnacle at Central Wharf. We can create a vibrant public realm and sustainable future for the downtown waterfront that is shaped by a community vision calling for a redevelopment of this land in the public trust that is inviting, welcoming, and accessible to everyone.