The South End Landmark District Commission (SELDC) heard a third advisory review for a proposed multi-family building with retail on the ground floor at 1395 Washington St.
Architect Dartagnan Brown went through some of the proposed changes, the largest of which he said is the removal of the seventh floor that was presented at the last hearing, as height was a major concern.
“We are complying with the height now,” Brown said. There is a 70 foot limit in the area, and the proposed building is now six stories and would stand at 69 feet, 11 inches. “We’ll still keep the same ground floor presence,” he said, but the Floor Area Ratio has decreased and the unit count has decreased from 35 to 33 units.
At the last hearing, the team presented a seven story building with a metal panel base and a light gray colored brick for the facade. Now, the proposal has shifted to a more reddish-toned brick, and “we’ve really looked to break down the scale of the sixth floor in addition to eliminating the seventh floor,” Brown said.
Brown then went through a list of things the team heard last time and has responded to, starting with the proposed floor heights.
He said that they have “adjusted the floor heights and headers to align with the building on the right, but understanding how the coursing of the mullions and the frame adjust to the building on the left.”
Additionally, the cornice line that “separates between retail and residential” on the front facade has been widened to create a “very delineated ground floor base” and creates more opportunity for different signage options, Brown said. The windows have also been changed to reflect those of South End proportions, and the metal paneling has been removed from the ground floor proposal. Instead, cast stone will be used, “delineating between the retail and the residential in a much more deliberate manner,” Brown said. Lastly, the massing has been broken up and the “heavy framing” has been removed, and glass will be used instead of metal for the Juliette balconies.
Brown also said that the team is working with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) to extend the sidewalk and curb in front of the building to enhance the pedestrian experience.
He spoke a little bit about the newly proposed materials as well, and how they will shift to darker colors and more reddish-toned brick instead of the light gray that had been previously proposed. The metal mullions will be a darker charcoal color on the retail portion of the ground floor, and a brass color on the residential entry, which is on the right hand side of the building.
“It’s very clear that you guys listened and thought very hard about this,” said Commissioner John Freeman. “It’s wonderful how far it’s come.”
Freeman said that he likes the newly proposed materials, but had a couple of constructive comments to offer as well.
“The first most important thing you need to do in my mind is pick up something from the building on the left,” he said, suggesting “either a parapet or something small in the detail.” The building to the right of this proposed one is a more contemporary building while the one on the left is a historic building.
Additionally, Freeman said “I would like to see a little more articulation in the residential entry,” as “South End residential entries are usually very articulated.”
Commission Fabian D’Souza also said “I’m really happy with the amount of improvements,” but made a comment about how before, the colors were too light, and he worried that now they may be too dark. He did acknowledge that “sometimes renditions can be inaccurate.”
SELDC Chair John Amodeo said that for the materials on the top floor, “I would advocate for going warmer rather than cooler.”
Amodeo said that “this has come a really long way. We’re talking about an approvable project here, I think. We want you to come prepared to your first application hearing.”
This project is currently undergoing Article 80 Small Project Review with the BPDA, so once the board approves the project, it will head to the Zoning Board of Appeal seeking relief for zoning violations. If that relief is granted, it will then come back before the SELDC for a design review and vote from the Commission.