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BOSTON—In what is seen as a significant step toward construction of the Pritzker family’s Fan Pier project, a 3.3-million-sf, mixed-use complex on the Boston waterfront, the Hyatt Hotel’s draft environmental impact report was approved this week by state environmental affairs secretary John Durand. Obstacles remain, however.

The Conservation Law Foundation, a local environmental group, is threatening action on the ruling, charging that the project would create traffic nightmares in the burgeoning Seaport District and does not meet the spirit of Chapter 91, a regulation that mandates public access and other provisions for commercial waterfront development. CLF senior attorney Stephanie Pollak notes that Fan Pier’s own studies show that the project creates a windier, less-pleasant environment than one fully compliant with Chapter 91.

Durand’s report also raised concerns about traffic, particularly since 62% of those coming to Fan Pier will use a transit line now under construction. Kyle Warwick of Spaulding & Slye Colliers, the real-estate services firm representing the Pritzkers, downplayed the problem, arguing that their estimates are in line with the city’s overall use of public transit. Fan Pier accepted Durand’s call for a “transportation summit” to convene within the next 45 days to address issues about the Seaport District.

City and state approvals could be in hand by the end of the year, allowing construction to begin next July, according to Warwick. The first phase would feature an office building slated to open in early 2003, followed by two hotels and a residential component.

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