Neighbors Get Update on Plans for Parcel 12 Development

Members of the design team behind the planned Parcel 12 development unveiled their latest concept before an overflow crowd during a public meeting sponsored by the Boston Planning and Development Agency on Monday night at the Hynes Convention Center.

David Manfredi, CEO and founding principal of Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects, said the proposed project slated for the critical intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston and Newbury streets in the Back Bay would include a 237-foot office building with 70,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space on its first two stories and a below-grade garage that could accommodate up to 150 spaces, as well as a 154-foot hotel or residential building. More than half the project would be located over the Massachusetts Turnpike, with the two buildings sitting atop an elevated podium-like structure.

Abe Menzin, senior vice president of development for Boston-based real estate development firm Samuels & Company, said the Parcel 12 development would also dovetail with a Massachusetts Transportation Department (MassDot) project that would move the highway ramp at Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street to the west and reduce the width of the intersection from 70 to 32 feet. “It will make it feel like an urban, four sided intersection,” he said.

The project would also include widening the sidewalks to 30 feet on Massachusetts Avenue and to 25 feet on Boylston Street, as well as creating a dedicated, protected bus lane on Massachusetts Avenue, Menzin said.

Also, Menzin said the project would create about 600 feet of new streetscape, which would loop down Newbury Street and Massachusetts Avenue and back up Boylston Street.

As part of the project, a new headhouse would be constructed that would link the west side of Massachusetts Avenue to the Hynes Convention Center MBTA stop via an existing tunnel located beneath Massachusetts Avenue, Menzin said.

Besides voicing his apprehension over potential wind, glare, shadow and transportation impacts, Martyn Roetter, chair of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) board of directors, expressed significant concern with the Parcel 12 architectural design.

“It looks like a generic, glass-and-steel building that isn’t consistent with the Back Bay’s historic architecture,” he said.

“We want to get the architecture right,” Menzin responded, adding that the design is still in the early stages

Ted Schwartzberg, BPDA neighborhood planner, said the public comment period had been extended until Feb. 15, and that the Citizens Advisory Committee for the project is tentatively scheduled to meet again on Feb. 5 in the basement of St. Cecelia’s Church.

Since attendance at Monday’s public meeting was over capacity, however, Schwartzberg said that it would be held again for the benefit of those unable to attend, which could affect the duration of the comment period and the timing of the CAC meeting.

Meanwhile, public comments can be directed to Aisling Kerr, BHPA assistant project manger, at [email protected] or via U.S. mail to Kerr, c/o of the Boston Planning and Development Agency, One City Hall Square, Boston, MA 02201.

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