BVHDC Approves 67-69 Church St; Two Other Projects Get Green Light

After a month of not meeting, the Bay Village Historic District Commission (BVHDC) met on May 14 and heard three design review proposals. The first was 4 Melrose St., where architect Timothy Burke proposed adding a dormer on to the rear of the house to “get a little more headroom” on the top floor of the single family house. On top of the proposed dormer would be a roof deck. Burke said that they have received approval from the Zoning Board of Appeal to use a hatch for access to the roof deck.

Joe Cornish, Director of Design Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission, said that he would like to see the railing for the roof deck be moved back to be less visible. The Commission approved the proposal with the proviso that the applicant work with staff to determine how far back the railing needs to go to reduce visibility from the street.

Right next door, at 6 Melrose St., architect Brigid Williams proposed what she called a “laundry list” of things to be done to the house. The scope of proposed work includes repointing the masonry on the front facade, replacing deteriorated window lintels and sills with concrete to match existing brownstone, remove skylights, replacing rubber membrane roof, install new skylight, among other things.

She said that many of the houses on the street do not have shutters, so they will be removed, but the hardware will be left in case future owners want to install some.

For the garden side of the roof, Williams said that they “sought out the smallest, lowest profile” condensers they could find, and are nesting them into the roof. While they are still slightly visible from behind, “we’ve done everything we can to keep it low and happy,” she said.

She also proposed a two-panel door for the front door, to replace the existing door that has two glass panels in the top—the client does not want glass in the door, she said.

“It should be a six-panel door; you don’t need to have lights at the top of the door,” she said.

Commissioner Stephen Dunwell told Williams that he received an email from a neighbor “applauding your project and emphatically endorsing your work,” he said. She currently has leakage on the party wall, and is glad it will be fixed. “I think it looks fabulous,” Dunwell said. “Huge improvement.” The Commission voted to approve this application with the proviso that the proposed two panel door be replaced with one that is a more historic six panel door.

Lastly, at 67-69 Church St., which has been before the Commission before, as well as before the community numerous times, architect Anthony Piermarini proposed the final plans for the current Erbaluce restaurant building. The design of the proposed restaurant/residential building has gone through several iterations with the community. The base of the building, Piermarini said, would be restored, and two stories added on top for a total of 22 additional feet on the height.

Throughout the process, the architects have promised to stay true to the original intention of the building and use materials and a style that would both complement the original as well as add a modern touch. The first floor would be used for a restaurant/commercial type space, with the second, third, and fourth floors as residential space. The fourth-floor unit would have an internal staircase behind a door on the third floor, and would have exclusive access to the roof deck.

The storefront would be aluminum, Piermarini said, and the cornice line on the second floor would be restored. The residential entry would be off of Shawmut Avenue.

“I think this is really impressive,” Stephen Dunwell said. “This is a great presentation.” He said that the historical research is “impressive.”

“I’m just very impressed and I’m all in favor and I think it’s going to be a big improvement,” Dunwell said.

Ben Beck of the Bay Village Neighborhood Association said that the organization is “content” with the design proposal as it is now.

“I love the restoration,” a direct abutter said, but added that he was concerned about the mechanical units, one of the reasons being noise. Piermarini said that there will be fencing around all of the mechanical units.

“Be cautious about the sound of the mechanical equipment and work with your neighbor,” Dunwell said, admitting that it is not in the Commission’s purview to control noise, but still thought it was appropriate to mention.

The Commission voted to approve this project as presented, said Commissioner Kathleen McDermott, “on the grounds that it will restore the original design of the building.”

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