The Boston Planning & Development Agency held its first meeting of the Impact Advisory Group (IAG) for a 90-unit residential project proposed for 142-146 St. Mary’s St. in the Fenway virtually on Monday, Nov. 13.
Newton developer and longtime owner of the property, Allen Associates Properties, intends to transform a two-story, non-conforming parking garage located along the tracks for the MBTA’s D train on the Green line into a new approximately 91,000 gross square-foot development.
The development’s 90 rental units would include a mix of studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms, said Ben Wan, a principal at Boston-based RODE Architects, with 14 units, or about 15 percent overall, designated as affordable, IDP (Inclusionary Development Policy) units per the city’s zoning requirements.
A two-level, enclosed garage accessed off St. Mary’s Street would include 105 parking spaces, along with 25 exterior spaces, said Wan, while parking provisions would include 75 spaces for an eight-and-a-half story, 149-unit residential development at 101 Monmouth St. in Brookline, also owned by Allen Associates Properties, along with 15 spaces for the neighborhood and two additional ride-share spaces. (The existing, 190-space garage at 142-146 St. Mary’s St. currently provides parking for residents of 101 Monmouth St., which is the closest structure to the proposed development.)
The proposed building would also include a secured, internal bike room with 90 spaces, as well as external bike racks for visitors and a new Bluebikes station for the local bike-share network.
Wan said the “odd parallelogram- shaped site” has many varied conditions, including frontage on Emerald Necklace.
The proposed building would have “rowhouse-inspired massing along the northern edge of the property facing the shared alley,” said Wan, while it would also curve at the bend in the Muddy River to maximize views from dwelling units.
A lobby along St. Mary’s Street would provide pedestrian access into the building, added Wan, while the building’s second story would be home to a 2,700 square-foot “amenity lounge,” which could have a “fitness aspect,” as well as a landscaped amenity deck for residents.
The developer has also committed to capping the building’s height at 69 feet, said Wan, while the duration of construction is expected to last between 20 and 22 months, depending on the “scope” of the project.
As part of the project, Allen Associates Properties has agreed to look at the feasibility of creating a new pedestrian connection between the site and the Fenway stop on the D train on the T’s Green line. The developer has had early conversations with the Boston Transportation Department and the BPDA about creating an at-grade connection to the T stop along the southern edge of the site, which abuts MBTA property on Monmouth Street in Brookline, said Wan.
Dolores Bogdanian, a resident of 467 Park Drive, said she and other residents would likely object to any plans to use a narrow, private alley that serves their building to create new access to the Fenway T stop.
Joe Hanley, an attorney for the applicant, assured Bogdanian that the alley in question wouldn’t be accessible for this purpose due to slope and grade challenges, and that she and other residents of 467 Park Drive would be included in the community process surrounding the proposed T connection.
Michael Nichols, an IAG member who has lived in the Audubon Circle neighborhood for nearly 15 years, suggested that in addition to the donation of $150,000 which Allen Associates Properties has committed to for the maintenance of Monmouth Park in Brookline, the developer could make a contribution for the upkeep of the Emerald Necklace as well.
Nichols also said he would be willing consider increased density, especially in light of the larger building right next door at 101 Monmouth St. in Brookline, if the project could deliver new pedestrian access to the Fenway T station that doesn’t cross Park Drive.
“It feels like there should be more units,” said Nichols.
In contrast, Tess Cunard, another IAG member, as well as a Medfield Street resident, said as a direct abutter, she already feels the project is “pretty large.” Cuard also said she had a petition that has garnered 67 signatures from neighborhood residents to date, including her own, imploring the developer to cap the building height at 45 feet to keep it within existing zoning regulations.
Cunard also expressed concern that the only way for vehicles to access the site would be via Medfield Street, since drivers wouldn’t likely go all the way around St. Mary’s Street to reach it.
While she too was optimistic regarding the possibility of creating new pedestrian access to the Fenway T stop, she expressed concern about pedestrian safety.
Pam Beale, another IAG member, asked that the group be involved in future conversations regarding this potential pedestrian connection to the T stop.
“We’re fortunate to have your service and everyone involved,” responded Attorney Hanley in pledging that the IAG would be involved in these conversations.
The BPDA’s public-comment period for this project ends on Jan. 2; public comments can be submitted on the BPDA’s project webpage at http://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/142-146-st-marys-street, or comments can be emailed directly to Ebony DaRosa, BPDA project manager, at [email protected].