Don Chiofaro will unveil his latest plans for demolishing the wretched Harbor Garage on Wednesday, and the first thing anyone will want to talk about will be the size of whatever Chiofaro wants to build in the garage’s place. It’s a natural reaction. Since Chiofaro rolled out his first scheme for redeveloping his 1,400-car waterfront facility more than five years ago, Boston has been conditioned to scoring his plans based on the height of his proposed buildings. That’s because Chiofaro’s running feud with former Boston Mayor Tom Menino was ostensibly a fight over how tall developers could go along Boston’s waterfront.
But height isn’t necessarily the enemy at places like the Harbor Garage; it is a tool for paying for badly-needed improvements on the ground. As Boston gears up for another round with Chiofaro and his architectural renderings, the battle lines shouldn’t form over an arbitrary, inviolable height limit.