Members of the community and several elected officials came to the Ruggles Baptist Church on April 3 for the Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association (ACNA) annual meeting. The community heard from Sen. Will Brownsberger, Councilor Josh Zakim, and an update on the Landmark Center from Peter Sougarides of Samuels & Associates, before hearing a Year in Review from ACNA President Dolores Boogdanian.
Sen. Brownsberger discussed several transportation projects that are going on in the neighborhood, saying that the MBTA has accepted responsibility for the deck of the bridge but the crosswalk on Park Drive that belongs to them. He also talked about the construction on the Green line by Fenway Station. He said that there are two components: track work and redoing the area inside the tunnel from Kenmore station where the lines split into the D, C, and B. “That work will be down in the next month or so,” he said, and then another project will start. The next phase is to create a door to the tunnel at Fenway Station that can be closed in the case of a flood in the Fens. “These are the things people are talking to me about in this neighborhood,” Brownsberger said.
“We appreciate your intercession on these issues,” Boogdanian said. “It will be a continuing effort.” She added that Rep. China Tyler has been helpful in the crosswalk efforts as well.
Councilor Zakim spoke about the issue of temporary street occupancy permits, as many in Audubon Circle have run into issues with this. He said that they are “seeing proliferation of people getting these permits and not using them,” so they are working with inspectors to determine if the spaces are not being used. “We did raise the fees and changed the fee structure to incentives them to get out more quickly,” he said. As it is his last term as District 8 City Councilor, Zakim told the Audubon Circle community that “it’s been a huge privilege to work with you all.”
People will finally start to see the fruits of all the construction that was going on behind screening fences on Park Drive for so long. Peter Sougarides, a principal at Samuels & Associates, presented an update on the status of the Landmark Center construction. He began with a brief history of the building, saying that it was built in 1928 by Sears and purchased by Samuels & Associates in 2011.
He said that “a couple hundred” trees will be arriving this week, along with benches that will be situated along park drive. Time Out Market Food Hall, which will bring 14 different eateries in a communal seating-type area, is expected to open in the middle to the end of May, Sougarides said. They have also improved the walkway from the T to the new building, along with lots of other little improvements. “It’s all coming together and I think it will be amazing when it’s done,” he said.
There will also be a grand two-story atrium when coming in off of Brookline Avenue, in an effort to make the building “much more publicly accessible and friendly to the neighborhood.” Similar to Post Office Square Park, Sougarides said, there will be cushions for people to take onto the newly laid lawn to read or each lunch. They are also looking to activate the lawn out front with things like fitness classes and movie nights. There is also ample space to have a skating rink on the lawn that will be open this winter, according to Sougarides. Trillium Brewing will have a small kiosk outside the building on Park Drive as well.
As far as parking goes, Sougarides said that at least 50 percent of employees in the Landmark building take public transportation or bike to work. “We can’t keep up with the bike parking in the building,” he said. He said that generally speaking, parking usage is “way down,” and showers will be provided in all the office facilities.
Over the summer, renovation of the garage will begin, he said. Blick Art Materials will relocate to a different space. “In order to get ready to build the next phase, we have to do some renovations to the garage,” Sougarides said. The interior work will be done sometime in October, he added.
After Sougarides’ presentation, Dolores Boogdanian gave a quick 2018 Year in Review. She said that many Audubon Circle residents are “terribly impacted” by the Fenway Portal Project that Brownsberger had talked about earlier. She talked about a new noodle restaurant that is “a nice new addition” to the neighborhood, and also brought up the concerts at Fenway Park. ACNA asked that there be no weeknight performances, but the city approved all 12 dates so there still may be some weeknight performances this summer. Boogdanian said that ACNA also asked for “better review on traffic and transportation impact” regarding the proposed Fenway Theater.