Talks Begin for Where Mitigation Funds Will Go for Harrison Ave Dev

April 7, 2017
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By Beth Treffeisen

The mitigation funds for the proposed project at 370 – 380 Harrison Avenue in the South End was up for debate at last week’s Impact Advisory Group (IAG) meeting.

With only three out of the nine IAG members in attendance, the committee decided it was best to not make a decision and allow the other members to weigh in before taking a vote.

There is $250,000 in mitigation funds from the developers Related Beal that the IAG members can chose to give out to the community in the best way they see fit.

The developers already are giving $400,000 towards traffic infrastructure improvements to the area around the development.

“I think the funds should stay in this part of the neighborhood,” said Jonathon Berk an IAG member.

The 370 – 380 Harrison Avenue proposed project consists of the demolition of the former Quinzani’s Bakery and Ho Kong Bean Sprout Co., and the construction of a mixed-use building.

It will include 314 residential units made up of rentals and condominiums, 8,500 square feet of retail space and 180 off-street parking spaces.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) recently approved the proposed project on March 2, 2017.

The project recently gained approval from the South End Landmarks Commission on Tuesday, April 4.

It still needs to gain approval by the Boston Zoning Commission (BZC), and is scheduled for hearing on April 12 at Boston City Hall.

“We did a lot of work to get up to the BPDA board meeting,” said Andrew Hayes representing the developers Related Beal. “With the public benefits we want to continue to be open and learn how to get it right.”

At the meeting, three places quickly emerged as to where the IAG members wanted to see the money go towards: Friends of Peter’s Park, More Than Words, and Boston City Lights.

The IAG members agreed that Peter’s Park is a good place to invest in because anyone can use it, from old-time residents to people who will be moving into the new developments that dot Harrison Avenue.

“It probably needs $1.5 million to renovate the park,” said Liz Cahill an IAG member. “Everything is over 10-years-old.”

Cahill said that although they secured funding for the Tot lot and the nearby dog park, none of that money went into the overall improvements in the park.

She would also like to see a sprinkler system put in to help with the grass and deter homeless people from camping in the park.

“It’s just a fabulous park and it needs help,” said Cahill.

More Than Words is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.

Right now in their South End location bookstore, which is abutting the proposed development, is currently going through a major renovation to make the space more welcoming and vibrant to the community.

Due to the timing of when this new development is expected to begin construction, it will align right as More Than Words is about to open up their new renovations.

“It’s going to have a real impact to More Than Words and in order to have equity I believe More Than Words should get a significant portion of the funds,” said Steward Rose an IAG member.

Lastly, Boston City Lights, a free performing arts school that educates children in dance, singing, acting, sound production, set design, and community participation and organization, will also be affected by the construction due to its close proximity.

During construction, Duggan Hill the executive director of Boston City Lights said, they will not be able to do sound production because of the added noise. In addition, the funds received from the Ink Block mitigation funds went directly into improvements in the building itself to create three to six apartments and did not directly benefit the school.

“The South End has a lot of great programs here and I think the money should stay within the community,” said Hill. “It should stay as close as possible to help people here.”

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