The 18.5 story tower at 212-222 Stuart Street returned before the Bay Village Historic District Commission on December 11. This is not the first time the Commission has seen this project, nor is it the first time it has come before the community. Last fall, Weston Associates, owners of 230 Stuart Street, brought a lawsuit against the Zoning Board of Appeal after learning they passed variances for the tower, which will sit on what is now mostly vacant land.
The Bay Village community as a whole seems to like this latest proposal put forth by Howeler + Yoon Architecture. Eric Howeler of Howeler + Yoon said that over the course off this drawn out process, they have been trying to learn from the neighborhood to design a building that fits with the design of the rest of the buildings throughout the historic district.
“There’s a rhythm to Stuart Street, no uniformity,” Howeler said. He said that there are buildings of various heights along the length of Stuart Street, and their 199 foot high building will fit in nicely with the array of existing buildings, as well as the proposed Motor Mart project, which is 310 feet high.
Howeler said that this building is “working harder” than Motor Mart to learn from the neighborhood as far as the materials go. The proposal includes Indiana limestone milled scallops on the facade of the building, incorporated with the glass windows so there isn’t a wall of glass.
Howeler added that the previously proposed mechanical equipment has been moved to the north, and the lobby and retail orientations have been rotated as well so that all servicing is now coming off off Stuart Street.
Commissioner Anne Kilguss mentioned the two major townhouses that once existed not he site and were forced to be demolished, claiming that many are “still grieving” the loss of those buildings.
Howeler said that on the side where the front of those townhouses faced is now front doors to new units to pay homage to the buildings that were lost.
Feedback from Bay Village residents at the hearing was overwhelmingly positive. One mentioned that the current state of the lot “does not show off Bay Village the way it should,” and he “loves” the new proposed building.
“I like the project more and more every time I see it,” another said. “I wholeheartedly support this project.”
Resident Mark Slater said that the “first project was brutally disrespectful of Bay Village,” but he feels that the new one is just the opposite.
Commissioner Stephen Dunwell said that this proposal “gestures to the neighborhood around it,” and called it “an excellent solution to a difficult problem.”
Commissioner Ruth Knopf, who was originally adamantly against the original proposal, told Howeler that he has “created a very elegant building and you’ve converted me.”
The Commission voted unanimously to approve this application as presented, with the proviso that it will not set a precedent for future construction in the district, and each new building must be considered on its own.
11 Isabella St.
Architect Guy Grassi also presented a proposal for 11 Isabella St. The scope of work includes repairing and restoring masonry at the front facade, replacement of all windows, and new brick pavers at front garden. But the most controversial piece of the proposal is the removal of the existing headhouse and construction of a new headhouse, penthouse, terrace, and mechanical equipment.
Grassi said that they are “well under the FAR that’s allowable here,” and the deck is proposed to be set back to not be visible from Isabella St. It can be seen, however, from Arlington St. They have gone through the ZBA process and have received a letter of non-opposition from the Bay Village Neighborhood Association.
The Commission expressed their concern with the visibility of the new headhouse from the street. Joe Cornish, Director of Design Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission, asked Grassi if he has explored all options for visibility of the penthouse. Grassi agreed that more options can be considered, and the Commission approved the proposal with the proviso that Grassi work with staff on minimizing visibility.