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Developers share first look at plans for tower on James Hook Lobster site

The 285-foot-tall waterfront building would be home to a ‘high-profile, landmark hotel,’ they say.

In this artist's rendering, the tower planned for the James Hook & Co. Lobster site can be seen in the foreground, to the left of the rusting Northern Avenue Bridge.
In this artist's rendering, the tower planned for the James Hook & Co. Lobster site can be seen in the foreground, to the left of the rusting Northern Avenue Bridge.Elkus Manfredi Architects

Developers this week shared their first look at a tower that could help define a busy part of the downtown waterfront.

A group led by construction heavyweight Moriarty Partners on Monday filed plans for a 25-story hotel on the site of James Hook & Co. Lobster on Atlantic Avenue. They want to build an ellipse-shaped tower, designed by Boston architecture firm Elkus Manfredi, at a key spot on the waterfront alongside the Moakley Bridge, and at the foot of the Northern Avenue Bridge planned to replace the existing structure.

The 285-foot-tall building would house a “high-profile, landmark hotel” with 357 rooms, a restaurant on its top floor, and a new store for Hook in its lobby, according to the plans. An extension of the Harborwalk pedestrian way would wrap around the water side of the tower, which today is a cluster of rotting piers.

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The site — at the mouth of Fort Point Channel — has been considered for redevelopment since a 2008 fire destroyed Hook’s original store, built on a wharf over the water. Since then, the nearly century-old fish seller has operated out of trailers in a parking lot, while partnering with developers on plans to build something larger on the site.

It has taken years for the plans to progress, in large part due to lengthy debate over another nearby project — the much bigger tower that developer Don Chiofaro wants to put on the site of the Boston Harbor Garage. The two projects sit in the same waterfront zoning district, and plans for development in the area were bogged down by years of negotiations between Chiofaro, City Hall, and neighborhood and environmental groups. The Chiofaro plan was finally approved in 2018, though lawsuits challenging it are still pending. But aside from switching from residential units to a hotel, and hiring a different architect, the basics of the Hook project have changed little since it emerged six years ago.

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Now it will get a full study of its own, with community meetings, an architectural review, and a state examination of the environmental impact of building such a tower on the waterfront. That process begins with public comment, which the Boston Planning & Development Agency plans to take through early February.

The developers said they hope to break ground in early 2022, and open the building by the fall of 2024.


Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.