By Beth Treffeisen
The former Immaculate Conception Church that will have seven stories inside the existing structure got approval for some key outside design changes at the South End Landmarks Commission (SELC) meeting on Tuesday, November 1, that will allow them continue construction to transform the church into 63 rental units.
Ronald Simons, the owner of the building brought forward a proposal after hearing feedback from SELC this past August. It was passed with provisions, and the sub-committee will continue to work with him on the project as it moves forward.
The provisions included that any major changes will have to come back to the SELC and the landscaping design needs to be tweaked and will be presented to the Commission again.
The proposal changed after Simons learned he could no longer have parking in the basement level and re-worked the design to now have apartments at that level while keeping the fifth floor for storage.
Keeping with the recommendations, Simons proposed to preserve all window tracery visible from the public way, and will elongate them to allow light into the lower levels.
The windows will be set back in order to create space for recessed balconies.
“It all seems to be going in a good direction,” said Commission Chair John Amodeo after reviewing the plans.
The proposal also included installing an entry canopy to the Link Building and enlarging the window openings along East Canton Street. There will also be exterior terraces at the roofline on the sixth and seventh floors. The HVAC equipment will be placed in a sunken roof well that will not be visible from the public way.
The building will be seven stories, with two of those included in the roof. The fifth floor that will be storage will not have any windows.
The SELC had a few issues over the garden rail and ramp that will make the building handicapped accessible and asked that they look at a more simple design.
“I don’t think the steel will be obtrusive to the architecture but beyond that I think it will block light in the lower levels,” said Amodeo who continued by saying that he would like to be able to see as much as the plantings proposed for behind it be visible.
Residents voiced concerns over the HVAC equipment, and asked it be moved to the other side due to the already loud HVAC equipment from the abutting building in the area.
The SELC also passed an installation of a DAS node or a distributed antenna system, in this case on a light pole to expand cell phone data reach, at the northwest corner of Berkley Street and Tremont Street.
This DAS node was already approved along with 25 others slated for the South End but after getting feedback from the local residents decided it would be best to move this one’s location from Appleton St., to the other side of the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, to the corner of Tremont St. and Berkeley St.
At 22 Concord Street, there was approval to install PV panels or solar panels on the roof, but not being visible from a public space.
For the proposed projects at various locations from 54 to 102 West Newton Street was denied without prejudice, after concerns over the expansion of the front doors, due to new fire code that was not documented brought up some concerns from the commissioners.