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No Cookie-Cutter Tower Here

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis August 6, 2014 12:57 PM

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Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and ADD Inc.

Developer of International Place, Don Chiofaro is Boston's answer to Donald Trump, with an outsized personality and a penchant for big talk.

Still, whether Chiofaro will be able to build his latest plan, an intriguing twin-tower complex on the harbor by the New England Aquarium, remains to be seen. Check out the skyline rendering - Chiofaro's project is the sleek, 600-foot-tall tan condo and hotel tower in the middle, flanked by the somewhat shorter, silver-colored office tower next to it. (Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and ADD Inc. designed it.)

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Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and ADD Inc.

The good news for Chiofaro is that his chances have risen considerably since Mayor Marty Walsh took office earlier this year.

The bad news, though, is things couldn't have gotten much worse. After Mayor Thomas Menino gave a very public cold shoulder to Chiofaro and his bold proposal, the developer went public with his frustrations, a tactic that didn't exactly endear him with the notoriously thin-skinned mayor.

Walsh has pledged to given Chiofaro's plans a fair look, which, I guess, is sure better than the alternative.

While the debate now centers on the size of Chiofaro's proposal - 1.3 million square feet of offices, hotel rooms, shops and restaurants, crowned by 120 condos - the proposal stands out for other reasons as well.

The views from the condos, some of which will be 50-55 stories up and perched on the edge of the harbor, should be spectacular, says Ted Oatis, a long-time top executive in Chiofaro's development operation. 

"Oh my god, on a clear day, you will be able to see all the way to Gloucester," he says.

Overall, Chiofaro has pledged to build the anti cooker-cutter project, something that will stand out amid a skyline increasingly crowded with hard-to-tell-apart glass boxes.

"Our goal is to make something iconic that is not going to look like all the other buildings in town," Oatis argues.

So far, Chiofaro and Oatis appear to be off to a good start.

Along with the striking facade there is Harborside Square, a public space planned for the space between the two towers. In a bid to make it a year-round gathering place and hangout, it will also come with a retractable roof.

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Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and ADD Inc.

That's important - try walking down Atlantic Avenue or the Seaport in March or November and you'll quickly see why.

Talk of a Rockefeller Center-style skating rink has generated most of the buzz so far. But the space, which will be lined with restaurants and shops and maybe even a grocery store, can be the perfect spot for all sorts of events and gatherings, Oatis says.

A flower shop in the spring, a lawn party in the summer, and a farmer's market in the fall are just a few of the ideas being considered by Chiofaro and Oatis.

Back to the condos. There are no floor plans or price ranges, but we are likely talking about some of the expensive condos Boston has ever seen.

Oatis wouldn't say what the price range would be, though he noted talk that the new Four Seasons tower to be built on the Christian Science plaza could fetch $4,000 a square foot - about double what top selling condos are getting now.

"It will be at the top of the market," is all Oatis will say.

No need to be so coy, Ted. We get the picture.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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