Corporate Office Properties Trust envisions a $1 billion development with a 400-foot residential tower and a marina that supports residential and retail buildings as part of its proposed The Waterfront at Canton Crossing project.
The firm presented its master plan to the Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel on Thursday as part of the process to alter the Canton Crossing Planned Unit Development. The developer is seeking changes that would increase the heights of buildings, density of development and the number of residential units allowed in the Planned Unit Development.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that this time next year we’ll be in a position to be able to commence some of the basic infrastructure construction. The vertical construction is going to be driven by the market,” said COPT Development & Construction President Wayne H. Lingafelter.
Lingafelter also said the company will be approaching the city about receiving public funds, such as Tax Increment Financing, to help pay for infrastructure improvements in and around the proposed development.
“We do think the infrastructure is not just specific to our site. We think it’s a larger issue that the city will need to be part of the solution for,” he said.
In addition to needing the planned unit development adjusted, COPT must also overcome deed restrictions on the property that date back to when the land was owned by Exxon. The proposed marina portion of the property, which would include retail and residential space, is also currently prohibited because the city only allows for “water-based” uses.
“We’re in the process of enhancing the cleanup to a higher level, which we think will further support residential development,” Lingafelter said. “The property has been remediated.”
The master plan presented on Thursday is flexible and the developer has alternate designs in case it’s unable to get the approvals it needs for the denser residential uses. That fallback plan involves building extra office space.
The seven-acre parcel is located across Clinton Street from CareFirst Tower, south of the intersection of Boston and Clinton streets. Because of city rules regarding density, the project could require roughly 7,000 parking spaces.
Plans for The Waterfront at Canton Crossing also put a heavy emphasis on public access to the waterfront and will involve open green space. The public spaces around the development are in part inspired by the Boston Harborwalk. The design for the project also reflects waterfront development styles from cities such as Seattle and Vancouver that take advantage of a mix of low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise buildings.
Members of the Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel expressed some concerns about the master plan, ranging from shadows that would be cast by the 400-foot tower to likely traffic issues along Clinton Street.
Panelist Gary Bowden also expressed concerns about the marina portion only providing views of “rich people’s boats” from the project’s open spaces. He suggested that because the area represents the last deep-water portion of the Inner Harbor the developer may want to consider alternate uses, such as a docking for regional cruises.