EBNA Curious on East Berkeley Parking Lot, Development Plan

A routine, three-year renewal of a parking lot license for the Stanhope Garage operators on East Berkeley Street turned into a lively discussion of just what is happening with the property, which was permitted for a large office tower by the Druker Companies in 2013.

Since that 11-story office building was approved, there’s been little to no activity on the permit, frustrating neighbors who would like to know the future of that key piece of property.

Neighbors quizzed an attorney for the parking company on what Druker intends to do with the surface lot, but the attorney was unable to commit to telling them anything.

“I have applied for a three-year extension so we can pursue a permit to operate the lot to December 2021,” he said repeatedly.

Neighbors were restless though regarding the plans for the future, saying the property is an eyesore, and as other properties become developed, that lot remains derelict.

“I would like to know if they plan to make good on that development,” said Bradley St. Amand. “How long are those permits good for and how long will we be okay with plans that were presented and approved six years ago?”

Neighbors pushed to see if the operator had a lease, but the attorney wasn’t able to say, and he repeated that many times.

“All I can say is as the tenant, if the landlord wanted to do something, we would only be the tenant,” he repeated.

The attorney said Stanhope had agreed to put on a security guard later into the night for safety, to do more landscaping and to do a better job of keeping the lot clean.

EBNA took no action at the Oct. 16 meeting on the request.

  • Meanwhile, Related Beal presented a construction update on the Quinzani’s building project on Harrison Avenue, drawing praises from neighbors for their responsiveness and tight work site.

Project managers said they are in the process of ramping up from 20 to 50 workers per day, and they have about 80 percent of the soil removed. The final eight feet of soil will be removed as crews begin to pour the concrete foundation, which begins on the south side of the site this week.

A tower crane will move in to bring the building out of the ground in December, they said.

They reported that there will be about three retail spaces totaling 10,000 sq. ft. that haven’t yet been defined, but they did say they would like to see a restaurant on the corner.

Another key point was the developer said they still plan to work with 242 East Berkeley St. (More Than Words location) to tie in the sidewalks to match their new sidewalks.

President Ken Smith said the project has gone smoothly so far.

“Your guys have been good neighbors,” he said. “There is noise, but you are responsive.”

  • The Abbey Group’s Bill Keravuori presented the progress to date on the Exchange South End project just on the outskirts of EBNA. While they have all of their City permits in place, they continue to work on traffic plans to clear the state environmental regulators (known as MEPA).

He said they are working through a process, most of which includes clearly defining the connection to Frontage Road from the site – a long sought after connection that would eliminate the need for commuters to traverse through the South End to get to the highway.

A second important piece is a meeting set for Nov. 14 that will discuss the 30,000 sq. ft. civic and cultural space.

“Having 30,000 sq. ft. is a major amenity to the South End and we hope it’s viewed as such,” he said.

He said they hope to begin construction in mid-summer 2019, with pre-construction work coming as soon as May.

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