Banker & Tradesman | New Lewis Wharf Hotel Plan Riles Opponents

Banker & Tradesman, September 17, 2015-- Newly submitted plans for a five-story hotel at the end of Boston’s Lewis Wharf are getting a skeptical reception from North End residents.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh speaks at the Pilot House fundraiser. Photo by Matt Conti, NorthEndWaterfront.com

Boston-based JW Capital Partners filed its latest plan for the waterfront site with city regulators this week, immediately attracting opposition from residents who said the 277-room luxury hotel would be out of scale in the historic neighborhood.

“The massive size of the building will cut off the relationship between the North End and the harbor,” said Michael Malm, an organizer for Save Our North End Waterfront, in a phone interview. “Thousands of people come to the North End and you see them walking along Atlantic Avenue. They don’t look at the buildings, they look at the harbor and the boats. That would be eliminated and they would have to walk around this massive building.”

The developer’s filing sets off a new round of review before the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

First unveiled in June, the new plans eliminate a 40-unit condo component in addition to the hotel. The changes were made to comply with state Chapter 91 regulations governing waterfront development.

Will Adams, a principal with JW Capital Partners, said the project was designed to preserve access from the street side to the waterfront. The plans call for a 1,800-foot-long new section of the Boston Harborwalk, which currently ends at either side of the property. It also sets aside 2.9 acres for open space, including a 1.3-acre park running from Atlantic Avenue to the waterfront.

“We believe it completely connects the waterfront and the harbor to the neighborhood,” Adams said. “We’ve gotten support within the broader North End community as a whole.”

The project also would replace the 223-space surface parking lot with a three-level, 379-space underground garage and install new public seating and a permanent home for the Boston Sailing Center.