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The developer of three proposed Southwest Waterfront buildings is trying to prevent residents of an existing building on the same site from speaking out against the new development, going so far as to threaten a lawsuit and damages against residents who oppose the plans at an upcoming Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting or take any other actions to hinder the development. The residents have already taken a step to prevent the development, filing for historic landmark status for the existing I. M. Pei-designed buildings.

But if the developer, the Bernstein Companies, has its way and the residents drop their push for landmark designation, the landmarking process would still move forward. That’s because, according to the Historic Preservation Office’s Steve Callcott, the condo association of Waterfront Tower wasn’t the only group to file for landmark designation; the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly also nominated the Pei buildings for landmarking.

“Conceivably if one group withdrew, the other could stand as the sponsor by themselves,” says Callcott. “Both are eligible applicants. SWNA is a recognized community organization with preservation within their bylaws.”

Callcott says that although the development is not subject to historic preservation review in the absence of landmark designation, Bernstein filed for a “courtesy review” by the Historic Preservation Review Board before the nomination for landmarking was filed, in order to learn whether HPRB thought landmark status would be reasonable. At HPRB’s June 27 meeting, Callcott says, both the nomination for landmark status and the project itself will be reviewed.

Callcott says Bernstein representatives met with the Historic Preservation Office yesterday to discuss the project but did not, as he recalled, bring up any legal issues surrounding the residents’ ability to try to prevent the development.

Still no word from Bernstein.

Photo via Google Earth