IAG Discusses Residential Project Proposed Next to Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral

One week ahead of tonight’s (Jan. 12) virtual public meeting on the residential project proposed adjacent to Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in the Fenway, the city’s Impact Advisory Group (IAG) for the project met virtually on Thursday, Jan. 5.

​Transom Real Estate intends to construct a pair  of seven-story residential buildings in the rear of the parking lot for the church at 165 Park Drive, across from the Back Bay Fens. Together, the buildings, which would each stand nearly 75 feet tall, will occupy around 117,559 square feet and include a total of 115 dwelling units. The first building will contain 48 home-ownership units, all of which would be affordable, while the second unit will contain 67 market-rate apartments.

Covered parking containing a total of 35 or 36 spaces would be located on the ground level of both buildings, and additional 10 or 11 surface parking spaces would also be provided, according to members of the project team. Two “car-share” spaces for residents would also be created for the use of residents.

On-site bike accommodations will consist of 115 bike racks located in a large room on the first floor of the first building, as well as 23 bike spaces outside.

​Peter Spellios, a principal with Boston-based Transom, said the developer have met with members of the church’s Visioning Committee on more than a monthly basis throughout the pandemic to discuss how to build affordable housing on the site. During these conversations, several project goals were established, including a desire to develop and finance as much affordable housing on the site as possible, as well as a desire to keep the project’s height and density consistent with existing planning and zoning in the neighborhood to ensure that the project doesn’t literally “overshadow” the abutting cathedral and its functions, he said.

​Besides the church, which made the property available for the project, its affordable housing component was made possible via a “very significant contribution” from the Boston-based developer, Samuels & Associates, as part of the mitigation for its 1400 Boylston St. (Star Market) project, said Spellios.

​“Without their involvement, candidly the project wouldn’t happen as we’ve proposed here,” he said, adding that the home-ownership units would be deed restricted and a mix between 80 percent and 100 percent AMI (area median income).

​The project’s unit mix would comprise around 60 percent studios and one-bedrooms, said Spellios, while the remaining approximately 40 percent would two-and three-bedrooms.

The project will conform with all of the neighborhood’s existing requirements for height and density, as well as for setbacks and open space, said Spellios, while allowing the cathedral to “continue to be the most important feature” at the corner of Kilmarnock Street and Park Drive. The cathedral will sit between the two new buildings “like a glove,” he said, and a traffic circle would be created between the two buildings.

​Since there is a “very significant grade change,” with the site sitting between 6 and 10 feet below Kilmarnock Street, a series of ADA-accessible switchback ramps would be installed where a staircase is today, said Spellios.

​All the proposed project changes are on site, added Spellios, and the curb lines at both Park Drive and Kilmarnock Street will remain unaffected.

​The project also proposes landscaping features, said Spellios, including maintaining the tree buffer along Park Drive to the Emerald Necklace, as well as creating new green space between the surface parking spaces.

While a fair number of existing trees will remain on the property, “a mixed bag of vegetation” at the rear of the property, including small and large trees, along with brush, would likely be lost as a result of the project, said Spellios. But the developer has committed to replacing any lost tree caliper “inch for inch,” he added.

Freddie Veikley, an IAG member, requested that the perennial garden be preserved and enhanced, and that a parking space be provided on site for the use of visiting nurses.

IAG member Kathy McBride described the proposal as a “very thoughtful plan,” but requested that any financial donations be kept in the neighborhood, preferably going to greenery and landscaping.

“We share that goal and think it’s achievable,” replied Spellios.

Another IAC member, Pam Beale , described the plan as a “wonderful collaboration” and applauded the project team for creating new affordable home-ownership opportunities.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency will hold a virtual meeting on the 165 Park Drive proposal on Thursday, Jan. 12,  from 6 to 8 p.m.

The public comment period for the project is open through Friday, Jan. 20.

To register for the meeting, submit a public comment, or learn more about the project, visit https://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/165-park-drive.

Public comments can also submitted through Jan. 20 directly to Quinn Valcich, BPDA project manager, at [email protected].

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