Proposed Development for 2 Charlesgate West Spurs Uproar from Residents

By Beth Treffeisen

In a previous version of the story, Eric Chivian was referred to as Eric Sherman and it has been updated to reflect the correct spelling. 

Disappointed residents from the Fenway neighborhood attended the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) public meeting on October 6., on the proposal for Two Charlesgate West, to voice their concerns on the new mix-used building.

“There was a reason it was designated as a gateway entrance,” said Justin Krebs from KIG Real Estate Advisors, LLC who is leading the Charlesgate West project. “It intersects between the Back Bay and Fenway neighborhoods.”

The project site is approximately 0.47-acres, and is bounded by Ipswich Street to the north, landscaped open space and Charlesgate West to the east, Private Alley 938 to the west, and 1163 Boylston Street to the south.

The site currently has three buildings; 2 Charlesgate West Trans National building, a six-story commercial building, 6 Charlesgate West, a two-story commercial block, and 1161 Boylston Street, a one-story office block and warehouse.

The proposed development will include approximately 344,000 square feet; 29-story residential building that includes approximately 295 residential units with a mix of rental and ownership units. It will also include approximately 10,000 square feet of restaurant space and approximately 7,500 square feet of office space.

The building will hold 50 percent of the affordable housing on site and will be working with the Fenway Community Development Corporation to figure out the best location to place the other half.

Trans National Properties will occupy the office space and plans on remaining an active member of the community.

It will also include about 186 attended parking spaces that will be placed partially below-grade and partially above-grade on the fourth and fifth floors.

One of the major concerns brought up by residents was the height. According to Tim Horn the president of the Fenway Civic Association (FCA), the zoning for the spot is currently at 135 feet but the proposed plan consists of a 340 ft zoning height, an approximately 150 percent increase.

Horn made of point of saying that it took five years for all the neighborhood groups to come to a consensus on rezoning the Fenway area that put that plot at a 135 feet height restriction.

“There is a reason why the Fenway has blown up and developed better than the rest of the city,” said Horn who was speaking for himself and not the FCA. “It’s because we’re the only neighborhood to have the guts to take on height and there is a reason why this height was not allowed in the first place.”

He continued, “If you’re going to be building a building that surpasses our zoning you need to give a good economic reason for it.”

For Eric Chivian a physician and former professor at Harvard Medical School who lives at the Fenway Studios believes the building is a lovely design but way too tall for the area.

“It will tower over all the other buildings in the area,” said Sherman. “In my view it will stick out like a soar thumb.”

He added that a building this size will take about 24 months to construct and that the residents during that time would have to deal with the dust, dirt, and noise as well as even more congestion.

In response David Manfredi one of the chief architects of the project said, “We’re going to debate on the height and that’s something we are going to work through.”

Community members voiced that in the Fenway, especially during a baseball game, there is already gridlocked traffic and very limited street parking.

“Even if you cut a third off the top and guarantee that everyone who lives at that residence is not eligible for neighborhood parking – there’s no way you are not going to affect it,” said John Bookston a member of the FCA speaking for himself.

He continued, “That’s been a problem in the Fenway forever.”

Some other concerns consisted of the possible wind tunnel affects and the solar glare that can result from the mostly window-filled exterior.

Both concerns Manfredi said would be addressed in extensive studies to both eliminate any wind tunnels and glare.

“I wanted this to be developed since we’ve got here and we passed our zoning,” said Horn. “It’s the last remaining piece of the puzzle. I was just so disappointed to see that it is so far out of the context of the lot we’ve worked so hard for.”

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