Motor Mart Garage Project gets a New Look

The team behind the proposed redevelopment of the Motor Mart Garage presented their reconfigured design and results of further impact studies during a city-sponsored meeting on Wednesday, April 10, at the Revere Hotel.

An affiliate of the Los Angeles-based CIM Group and Boston Global Investors intend to redevelop the eight-story existing garage at 201 Stuart St. into a mixed-use building with new residential units located within the western portion of the existing structure, as well as additional units within a new 20-story residential tower that would sit atop the existing structure. All together, the project would create 306 new residential units, and retain approximately 46,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, as well as 672 of the 1,037 existing parking spaces.

Phil Casey principal of Boston’s CBT Architects, said in response to feedback from the city and the public on massing, the new design has abandoned the orthogonal features in favor of a more sculpted form while stone will be incorporated into the glass elements throughout the entire tower, which recedes and grows thinner until reaching its peak.

Another departure from the earlier iteration, Casey said, is instead of having two main entrances into the building, one expanded lobby now fronts Stuart Street and Statler Park.

Regarding retail possibilities, Casey mentioned a supermarket as a potential tenant for the new basement-level space at Columbus Avenue and Church Street.

In an effort to provide a historic link between the new building and its predecessor, Casey said existing pilasters – flattened, rectangular-shaped columns that project slightly from the face of the wall – would be salvaged, restored and reintegrated into the design.

And for the benefit of neighbors with views overlooking the existing building, a screen wall will shroud mechanicals located on its western portion, Casey said.

The project also includes plans for the creation of a pedestrian extension at Church Street to table the street and make for a more pedestrian-friendly environment, Casey said.

Regarding the project’s potential shadow impact, Casey said it would have a minimal, legally permissible impact on the Public Garden and no impact whatsoever on the Boston Common.

Solar glare was found to be not “atypical” at the pedestrian-street level and on the surrounding buildings, Casey said, and there were found to be no “adverse effects” on adjacent facades.

Liz Peart, manger of transportation permitting for the Chelmsford engineering firm Howard Stein Hudson, said a new traffic study that was undertaken in response to feedback carefully considers the retail mix included in the project and looks closely at circulation with the inclusion of a bike lane proposed as part of the project. This new study also expanded its scope from seven to 11 monitoring sites.

According to the study findings, only 24 new, peak-hour trips on the MBTA Orange and Green lines are projected as a result of the project, Peart said.

The project includes plans for a new loading dock at Columbus Avenue with four bays – two for oversized trucks and two for service vans and other vehicles – but Peart said, “Maneuvers can be made safely going into and out of the loading dock.”

Sarah Herlihy of the Bay Village Neighborhood Association said she doesn’t believe the traffic study considers ride-share trips and Amazon deliveries enough, nor, she said, does it take into account that with the high prices of the proposed units, residents will likely own and drive their own vehicles instead of relying on public transit.

“Park Plaza and the loading issues are already horrific,” Herlihy said. “The traffic information isn’t detailed enough, and I think your assumptions aren’t correct.”

John Shope, a Fayette Street resident and former president of the BVNA board of directors, applauded the development team for designing a project that brings massing to the neighborhood while respecting its history and existing buildings.

“I would encourage the [Boston Planning and Development Agency] to move this project along because it’s going to be a huge benefit to Bay Village,” Shope said.

Likewise, Steve Young, a Back Bay resident and member of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, expressed his support for the project and applauded the proponent for being so responsive to the neighborhood throughout the process.

“I think the proponent has clearly listened to the comments and concerns of the neighborhood and made changes and improved design aspects because of their response to this input,” Young told the Sun. “It is clear that traffic concerns continue to exist in the neighborhood because of this project, but it’s good to see that the proponent is trying to address them.”

Public comments on this project can be submitted until April 25; to submit comments and for more information on the project, visit http://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/motor-mart-garage.

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