Potential plans by a Newton developer for a skyscraper that would reshape the Boston skyline near North Station are prompting neighborhood associations to seek officials’ reaction to the scale of the project.
Newton developer RMR Group is seeking to redevelop a cluster of parcels at the corner of Causeway and North Washington streets with a 700-foot mixed-use tower, according to neighborhood civic associations that are asking the Boston Planning & Development Agency for information on the zoning bylaws that would be applied to the project.
“We’re concerned because of past experiences that once the [BPDA] permitting process gets under way, it becomes a juggernaut and it ends up at some sort of approval,” said Victor Brogna, a North End/Waterfront Residents Association officer.
The height would represent one of the five tallest buildings in Boston and exceed recent nearby developments such as The Hub on Causeway’s 508-foot-tall office tower and the 600-foot-tall One Congress tower at Government Center.
In a joint letter, the West End Civic Association and the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Associations asked BPDA Director Arthur Jemison for additional information on the project.
The proposal would redevelop a group of mid-rise buildings at 251 Causeway St. and 100 and 126-132 North Washington St., which include office space and apartments, according to the letter. The parcels are located within the historic Bulfinch Triangle neighborhood where zoning caps building heights at 100 feet.
The potential development was mentioned by state Rep. Jay Livingstone at a recent meeting of the West End Civic Association, according to Brogna. Livingstone’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
“One of Michelle Wu’s campaign platforms was, `Planning before development,’ and this one was one of the things we tried in a nice way to address,” said Brogna, who chairs the NEWRA’s zoning, licensing and construction committee. “`Is there any plan to change the 100-foot heights, and before you put it into the Article 80 [large project review process], do the planning that needs to be done?’”
Brogna cited concerns about the volume of new pedestrian traffic and residents that would occupy a large mixed-use development, and safety issues at the heavily-trafficked intersection of Causeway and North Washington streets.
The potential development plans were first reported by the North End Regional Review publication.
RMR Group did not respond to requests for comment. In a 2021 interview with Banker & Tradesman, RMR Group Executive Vice President Jennifer Francis described the firm as a “quiet giant” despite owning 3 million square feet of real estate in the Boston area, including the Vertex Pharmaceuticals headquarters on Boston’s Fan Pier.
The Newton-based company had $37.7 billion in assets under management as of June 30, according to financial statements.
The BPDA said it had no comment on the project because no plans have yet been filed.
“Once it is filed it will go through a robust community process and review by our staff.” the agency said in a statement.
The potential development would join a group of large-scale projects under review by the BPDA on the MBTA Orange Line north corridor in Charlestown.