By Beth Treffeisen
After much debate among residents in this tucked away neighborhood in downtown Boston, the Bay Village Neighborhood Association’s (BVNA) Executive Committee took a vote in favor of the proposed 19-story tower slated for 212 Stuart Street.
The Executive Committee made a motion not to oppose the proposal subject to an agreement that the developers substantially address mitigation concerns.
Out of the 28 Executive Committee (EC) members, 24 were present. Out of those present, 20 EC members voted in favor of this motion, two EC members opposed this motion and two members abstained.
Proxy voting is not permitted at regularly scheduled EC meetings but out of those absent three members indicated that they would have voted in favor of this motion had they been present and one member indicated that they were likely to oppose.
Only members of the EC were allowed to speak during this portion of the meeting.
“This is a chance to air our views,” said Sarah Herlihy the president of BVNA who continued saying that the EC has worked a lot on planning issues in the past and has some particular insight on how these issues work. “But this will just be a data point on what the general meeting will vote on.”
The EC vote will be part of the overall letter that will be sent to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) when the final decision is made to approve or not approve this meeting.
Next Monday, April 10, from 5 to 8:30 p.m the Revere Hotel will host a general meeting where eligible voting members of the BVNA will be able to cast a vote on whether or not they are in favor of this proposed building.
There will also be a floor for open discussion on the proposed project. Voting members must be in person, been a member for at least three months prior to this meeting, and is an active member that paid their annual dues within one month of when they are due.
Currently the BVNA has over 250 members.
On January 23 the BVNA hosted a planning sub-committee meeting where close to a hundred residents attended and voiced their concerns to the developers Transom Real Estate, LLC.
On March 20, the developers returned to Bay Village during a joint BVNA planning sub-committee meeting and BPDA public meeting to show their updated design plans.
At this meeting, close to a hundred residents attended and voiced their thoughts once again, for height of the building, that was not altered, being a major issue addressed.
Herlihy said that she is in support of this project because the previous approved projects for this site at slightly lower heights never got built.
“None of those got built because it wasn’t economically feasible with that height,” said Herlihy. “The types of projects we see designed at lower heights are cheaper and are buildings like South Cove. I don’t want another building similar to South Cove.”
She continued saying that she wouldn’t consider approving a building like this if it where in a different location, like along the Arlington Street lots, because this does act as a gateway into the village.
In addition, she changed her mind once she saw the updated design from the developers.
“I have never seen a developer move a project as much as I’ve seen with this developer,” said Herlihy.
Clyde Bergstresser, on the licensing committee for the EC agrees.
“Billy’s Lot is derelict and it makes a statement,” said Bergstresser. He continued by saying that fighting for a shorter height, whether it is 120 feet or a three-story building that would fit into a historic setting is unrealistic.
“The Bay Village is a hidden jewel, in part because the larger buildings surround it,” said Bergstresser. “I don’t think this building is going to change the character of Bay Village.”
Kathy Hull, who is on the Parks and Public Spaces sub-committee on the EC, is against this project. In order to better understand this project she watched a professional fly a drone up to the 199 feet that is proposed for the height of this building.
“I was really surprised at the failure of my imagination to recognize how tall this building will be,” said Hull. “It was breath taking and I wish everyone here was able to see how tall that building appears on that spot.”
With the general meeting right around the corner, long time resident Jo Campbell wanted to remind residents that they all live in this neighborhood for a reason.
Campbell said, “We’re the best neighborhood in Boston and don’t you forget it! I don’t want to see any infighting happening because we are a neighborhood.”