Six-Story Building at 595 Albany St. Approved in Concept by SELDC

The South End Landmark District Commission (SELDC) on June 7 approved the proposed six story mixed-use building at 595 Albany St.

Andrew Brassard is the developer of this project, which will be a 69 foot building with 10 residential units and six parking spaces. The units will range from one to four bedrooms.

The architect explained that the existing building is the former Baha’i Center, but the team has received a letter from the city’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) stating that the building is structurally unsound and needs to be razed.

The architect then went into detail about the proposed design, saying that the building will feature “mainly masonry” with elements of metal and cement paneling. Colors are still being worked out, but right now, the team is looking at a darker brick on the ground floor, with a red or brown brick for the “main body” of the building, along with a darker colored metal and cement paneling.

The building’s ground floor will feature retail, which has been enlarged due to community feedback.

Another change from previous presentations includes the concealment of balconies to further include them within the enclosure of the massing as opposed to having them out in the open.

There will be an exposed party wall, as the building at 591 Albany St. is currently only one story.

“We have a simple, clean expression,” the architect said. There is also an accessible roof deck proposed. One side will be common access for all building residents, and the other side will be for “exclusive access of the penthouse unit,” he said. The deck will be set back from the street so it is not visible from across the street.

For the exposed party wall, “we’re thinking of using stucco” for that facade. “It may be exposed for a while, so we’re very keen to make it look very good,” he said. The stucco will also feature a reveal that outlines each floor.

There was some discussion about the demolition of the existing building at the address, and if the Commission votes to allow it, then “we have full review over this building,” even though it is in the protection area.

“It is so refreshing that you came in front of us and didn’t propose a building that’s 140 feet high,” said Commissioner Catherine Hunt. “Thank you. It just looks great in the context and I like the revisions you’ve made to the design, especially with the balconies, incorporating them into the footprint of the building, very nice. I just think it will be a very nice addition to the context and the neighborhood.”

Commissioner John Freeman said he agrees with Hunt. “I think this project has come a long way from that very first presentation.” He made a comment about not wanting to see visible fasteners for the paneling, which the architect agreed with. He also said he’d like to see some “more development” regarding the party wall, suggesting some “more relief lines so it’s not so glaring.”

The Commission reported that they received one letter in support of the project, and attorney Marc LaCasse reported that the Zoning Board of Appeal approved the project with Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) design review.

After voting to allow the demolition of the building, though it would have liked to see the building “preferably preserved,” the SELDC also approved this building in concept.

Freeman said that “any changes in the configuration, material, color, massing, and so on would have to come back to the Commission.” The applicant will also have to come back before the Commission when the design is 70 percent complete, as well as submit a full set of drawings to staff and the Commission is to be included in any mockups of materials or other items on site, whether it be Commissioners themselves or staff.

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