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BOSTON-After developer Stephen Karp’s reworked plan for Pier 4 on the South Boston waterfront here receives a warm reception from the state environmental office, city officials question whether different standards are being used to judge Nicholas Pritzker’s Fan Pier project.

“It’s not appropriate to ask for less density when everyone agreed that the acceptable density is next door,” Meredith Baumann, a spokesperson for the Boston Redevelopment Authority tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re hoping they apply the same standards to our proposal.” When asked whether she thinks the state environmental office was not using the same standards Baumann adds, “We are having problems getting our plans through.”

At one million sf, developer Stephen Karp’s plan for Pier 4 is about 300,000 sf above what is allowed under Chapter 91, the state law that deals with issues of public access to the waterfront. Under those guidelines, Fan Pier would be able to build about three million sf, but state environmental secretary Robert Durand is demanding that Chicago-based Pritzker cut his development down to 2.9 million sf. Doug Pizzi, press secretary for the state environmental office, explains to GlobeSt.com that the Municipal Harbor Plan aggregates these two areas so that the density is the same. The MHP was written, he says, to take all the waterfront districts as an aggregate to establish a certain “feel” for the area. “We want the density to be the same on both parcels,” says Pizzi. “These two parcels are abutting each other and we don’t want them to have different textures. You shouldn’t be walking from one to another and see a marked reduction in density.”

Durand wants 56% open space on each district in the waterfront development. That necessitated a 15% reduction on both these parcels. For Karp that meant going down from his original 1.2 million sf to one million–which he did–while for Pritzker the square footage has to brought down to 2.9 million, a figure that Pritzker has stated is not economically feasible. Pizzi notes, however, despite the Chapter 91 guidelines, even with the 15% reduction, Fan Pier is actually allowed greater density than Pier 4. The foot to area ratio for Pier 4 is 4.5 while the foot to area ratio for Fan Pier is 5.2.

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