ZBA Approves Decks in the South End; Bubble Tea Cafe on Newbury Street

The Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) on Tuesday granted zoning relief for a project at 28 Concord Square in the South End, as well as one at 222-224 Newbury St.

At 28 Concord Square, the project proponents proposed to install six-foot cantilevered rear decks at the rear of the parlor and third floors, as well as a roof deck. Access to the roof via a hatch was proposed, rather than a penthouse.

John Moran of Alpine Advisories Services said that they are seeking a conditional use permit under the zoning code, as well as a variance under the state building code.

“The locus is within the South End Historic District, and we suggest that access by a hatch rather than a headhouse would be a safe, complaint alternative under Chapter 12 of the state building code residential as distinct from the state building code commercial,” Moran said. “It is a common access, safe and uniformly applied as access on buildings where the level is not exceeding three stories.”

The building is a two-family home and the roof deck will be exclusive to the second unit, Moran continued. The project was cited for violating roof access, as the code states that “where a stairway is provided to a roof, access to the roof shall be provided through a penthouse.”

“This is a standard request we get in a historic district, so I would make the motion to grant the building code relief requested,” said ZBA member Mark Erlich. The rest of the board agreed.

As for the roof decks, Moran said they are proposing two decks that project six feet at the parlor and third level. “They’re cantilevered, otherwise they would be supported by brackets; they’re not supported by poles,” Moran said. He said that this design meets standards for the South End Historical District.

Faisa Sharif of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said that they are in support of the project, because “it matches other existing decks in the South End, and they had nothing but support at their abutters meeting.”

The ZBA voted to grant the project proponents the relief they requested.

At 222-224 Newbury St., applicant Qisheng Jia proposed to change the use of the space from retail to restaurant. The space currently includes storage space and is outfitted for retail, but the proponent wants to change it to a bubble tea restaurant called April 23 Cafe. They also requested takeout as part of their approval.

There will be no cooking involved, and the cafe would have 36 indoor seats.

Shanice Pimentel from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said “this proposal received full support from the community, including support from the Back Bay Association and the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB),” and expressed the support of the Mayor’s Office.

Elliott Laffer of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay said that the project proponents came to NABB with their proposal. “This is a very modest proposal; no cooking on site,” Laffer said. “Just bubble tea and snacks will be brought in, so we are not opposed.”

The ZBA voted to approve this project with the proviso that the takeout approval is for this applicant only.

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