New Boston Ventures unveiled yet-unseen details of their plan to demolish and rebuild on the site of the current USES Harriet Tubman House – a plan that is by right and won’t require any zoning relief for the 60l-65 unit mixed-use building.
New Boston’s David Goldman and Dennis Kanin appeared at the South End Forum on Tuesday night, June 4, with a diverse development team that provided new details of the plan that was first announced in April. The team was chosen by United South End Settlements (USES) as the designated developer, with that historic organization ready to sell the building in order to consolidate, cash in on the current real estate market, and solidify the organization for years to come.
“As of right now, we have a six-story building with 60 to 65 homeownership units – 17 percent of which that will be set aside for affordable homeownership,” said Goldman. “That’s in excess of the 13 percent required by the City.”
The first-floor, however, could be the most unique piece of the project, he said. Some 50 percent of the first-floor retail space will be reserved for affordable non-profit uses, and 2,300 sq. ft. will be for a USES-deeded community room and gallery. There will also be a social enterprise café with outdoor seating on the corner, already dubbed the ‘Hi Hat’ after the famous jazz club that once occupied the corner.
“We want to see and envision a first floor that is open and buzzing with activity,” Goldman said.
The long-awaited renderings show a traditional looking building with red brick facades that has a modern twist and emphasize something unique on every side of the building. Many have been curious how the project would be designed given the keystone location of it on the corner of Columbus and Massachusetts Avenues.
The project was detailed by project architect Jonathan Garland in the presentation.
“One thing we want to do is open up the building to the public so people can see and access the ground floor – giving it energy and activity,” he said. “We do plan to preserve or recreate the mural on the outside. We have emphasized every side of the building and we really don’t see a back side to this building. We have created a building that is complimentary to the neighborhood…A five, six or seven story building is in line with what’s at the end of the blocks. Our six-story proposal is very compatible with the bookend corners that are there.”
As part of the design, the residential side on West Springfield is more subdued, while the sides on Columbus and Mass Ave are more active. The existing parking lot area includes a new pocket garden courtyard.
Goldman and Kanin said they are working with the four existing non-profit tenants, and have found space for three of the four in Dudley Square. The final tenant, Tenants Development Corporation (TDC) has a space offered, and is looking at it.
“We’re just waiting for them to say ‘yes,’” said Goldman.
said he would like to begin the City public review process very soon, and hoped
to conclude an Impact Advisory Group (IAG) process by the end of the summer.
“We’re trying to move as quickly as possible with the BPDA process,” he said. “We’re just filing our Letter of Intent. We look to see an IAG formed quickly and hope to have the IAG process completed in 90 days – hoping.”
The construction period would be at around 18 to 24 months, and there would be no Saturday outdoor work.
An advocate on the team is life-time Southender Jovita Fontana, who said she supports the project and feels it helps to bring USES back to its roots at 48 Rutland St. – which is where they will consolidate and renovate their operations.
“For me, that’s coming home at 48 Rutland,” she said. “For me, growing up here, that was one of the few places I could go unchaperoned…I want everyone to understand this is a moving forward for USES.”