Shawmut Avenue Project to be Removed from BPDA Agenda Today

Despite being on the agenda for the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) Board meeting today (June 14), a comprehensive and conclusive vote on the Shawmut Avenue development plans, championed by The Davis Companies, will be tabled without a vote during the meeting.

For some, it was another bullet dodged in a project that has had a lot of ups and downs over the past few months.

On Wednesday afternoon, BPDA Project Manager Casey Hines sent out a communication to members of the Impact Advisory Group (IAG) for the project saying that vociferous feedback from the community had indicated that a public hearing and vote on the project were premature.
“As a result of the feedback we have received from the IAG and members of the public, the BPDA and proponents for the Shawmut Avenue/Washington Street Block Project have determined that requesting a vote at the June…meeting would be premature,” she wrote. “Delaying the vote until the next Board meeting allows for another month of community process – which would include another IAG meeting.”

Hines clarified that because the matter had been advertised and placed on the agenda, it would be too late to remove it altogether. Instead it will be tabled when it comes up without a presentation or a vote.

The Davis Companies said they were comfortable with the delay, and said they look forward to moving ahead with more meetings to gain more support from the IAG and community.

“We already have significant support within the IAG, as evidenced by a letter that was submitted to the BPDA by some members this week,” said Davis Spokeswoman Pam McDermott. “We have agreed to delay our BPDA presentation to provide an opportunity to achieve a broader consensus within the IAG and with the larger Chinatown and South End communities.”

When the BPDA agenda was sent out on Tuesday afternoon, some were surprised to see the public hearing for the entire Planned Development Area (PDA) – which includes three projects (Davis Companies, Boston Chinese Evangelical Corporation, and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association) – on the agenda.

The information on the agenda indicated that a vote would be taken “to petition the Zoning Commission for approval of PDA No. 114; to issue a Scoping Determination waiving further review of Article 80…for the development of three parcels…”

That was apparently not expected by many in the IAG.

Steve Fox, an IAG member, said the group doesn’t want to seem like they’re killing the project, but they simply haven’t had enough time to digest recent mitigation proposals made last week – proposals that included donations to local organizations, funding a new park on Shawmut Avenue and widening a controversial walkway beside The Lucas building.

“We were asking that they remove this from the agenda or table it,” he said. “If it went forward, we were prepared to draft a letter to the BPDA saying the IAG did not have sufficient time to reach a decision.”

Now, however, he said it would be time to roll up the sleeves and get to work on ironing out the final details of the proposal, including the recent mitigation measures.

There has been no date set yet for the next IAG meeting.

The proposal includes 139 residential units and 110 garaged parking spaces located at 112 Shawmut Ave.; 313 residential units, 14,600 square feet of ground floor commercial, retail, cultural and/or community space with 120 underground parking spaces located at 50 Herald St.; and construction of two religious sanctuaries for 1,130 people, a gymnasium, fitness rooms, offices, classrooms and meeting spaces, 2,000 ground floor commercial space, 84 residential units and 30 underground parking spaces located at 120 Shawmut Ave.

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