Plans for Harrison/Albany Block Receive Lukewarm Reception at IAG Meeting

By Seth Daniel

The developers of a large campus-style residential project between Harrison and Albany Streets, a project known as the Harrison Albany Block, returned to the community last Wednesday, June 8, for a second Impact Advisory Group (IAG) gathering.

The most noticeable change to the plans – and the most frequent complaint about the first round of plans – was that the 19-story tower had been reduced to 11 stories.

The existing 11-story building remained the same, which a three-story building at 660 Harrison Ave. was increased to five stories and a five-story building at 575 Albany St. was increased to 10 stories.

That created more of a wall of similar sized buildings running horizontally between Harrison and Albany Streets on East Canton and East Dedham Streets block.

The overall numbers of units has been decreased slightly from 710 units to 689 units, though 81 new units are now located in the 10-story 575 Albany St. building. One change is that there are fewer one-bedroom units, down from 75 percent of the project to 65 percent of the project.

That is also balanced by adding another 10 percent to the mix of two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

That was in response to neighborhood meetings where many residents indicated they wanted to see places where families could spread out, and a studio or one-bedroom wasn’t going to meet the needs of the neighborhood when it came to growing families.

Additionally, to accommodate the larger end buildings, a proposed park has been removed from the design in favor of commercial space later in the development work (2023). A walk-through green has been kept.

The 749 space parking garage under the buildings has been unchanged.

Some from the IAG and residents who have been critical weren’t initially impressed with the redesign.

Leggatt McCall officials have been touring the neighborhood over the last two months indicating that significant changes were in store for the new design.

“Last week’s presentation was a disappointing update and is only an improvement in name, but not in sprit,” said Natalie Truong, a vocal critic of the project, in an e-mail to the Sun. “As good neighbors, a project should harmonize with the existing cityscape without overwhelming it. Unfortunately this project still overwhelms the South End.”

The first IAG meeting took place in April.

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