The public got a look at the residential project proposed for behind Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in the Fenway during a virtual meeting sponsored by the city on Monday, Jan. 30.
Transom Real Estate intends to construct a pair of seven-story residential buildings in the rear of the parking lot for the cathedral at 165 Park Drive, across from the Back Bay Fens. Together, the buildings will occupy around 117,559 square feet and include a total of 115 dwelling units.
The first building would contain 48 home-ownership units, all of which would be affordable, while the second building will contain 67 market-rate apartments.
Sixty percent of the units will be studios and one-bedrooms, said Peter Spellios, a principal with Boston-based Transom, while the remaining 40 percent would be two- and three-bedrooms.
The home-ownership units would be long-term deed restricted and available to a “blended” 90-percent AMI (area median income), said Spellios. (While these aren’t actually AMI units by definition, the “same methodology” will be used here, he said.)
The affordable housing component of the project was made possible through a significant contribution from the Boston-based developer, Samuels & Associates, as part of the mitigation for its 1400 Boylston St. (Star Market) project, said Spellios.
Matt Thall, president of the Massachusetts Association of Housing Cooperatives board and directors, as well as an affordable housing consultant and professional, and a longtime resident of the Fenway, urged the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) and the developer to commit to a limited equity cooperative (LEC) for the home-ownership units – a model whereby residents purchase a share in a development, rather than an individual unit, and also agree to resell their share at a price determined by a formula.
Thall said an LEC arrangement would make purchasing units in the development “unattractive to absentee landlords.”
Moreover, Thall advised that the project might be eligible for up to $12 million in subsidies for home-ownership projects via MassHousing’s CommonWealth Builder Program. “This strikes me as an ideal candidate for that,” he said.
The project as proposed would adhere to zoning and planning regulations for the neighborhood, said Spellios, and therefore require no variances to move forward.
No changes would be made to the cathedral itself, added Spellios, while the project would intend to serve as a “backdrop” for the cathedral, rather than “overshadowing” the existing building.
Both of the new residential buildings would occupy a “significant portion” of the asphalt parking lot behind the existing cathedral, said Spellios, while the first floor of both buildings would contain parking. (The project would have no retail component.)
Around 36 parking spaces would be located inside the garage, while an additional 10 or 11 surface parking spaces would also be created. Two additional outdoor “car-share” spaces for residents would likely be for electric vehicles, added Spellios.
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.
The project also proposes landscaping features, including maintaining the mature tree buffer along Park Drive to the Emerald Necklace, as well as creating new green space between the surface parking spaces.
Freddie Veikley, a member of the Impact Advisory Group (IAG) for the project, urged the project team to preserve the large, “seemingly healthy” oak tree and the black locust trees on the site.
Veikley also asked if one parking space could be “set aside informally” as a “swing space” during the week for elder services personnel.
The BPDA’s public comment period for the project is open through Friday, Feb. 3, and comments can be submitted to the BPDA’s project website at https://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/165-park-drive, or submitted directly to Quinn Valcich, BPDA project manager, at [email protected]