By Seth Daniel
The Related Beal company has filed a revised project under a Planned Development Area (PDA) and a Draft Project Impact Report (DPIR) that includes added density in exchange for more affordable housing onsite – an agreement worked out with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) though a special text amendment that passed quietly last fall and became official on Dec. 14.
Related Beal filed last Friday with the BPDA, utilizing the text amendment that has been of much discussion lately after having passed the BPDA Board with little more than a peep last November. Since then, a well-attended public meeting in the South End took place this month to discuss in depth the changes to the entire district as a consequence of the text amendment.
The amendment passed the Zoning Commission in a meeting on Dec. 14.
That text amendment allows Related to institute a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) density of 8.0 – up from the 6.5 allowed previously. In exchange, they have to include 20 percent affordable housing on site within the building instead of paying into a fund to build units off-site.
“The Proposed Project will comply with (City code),” read the PDA filing. “It will also be eligible for the FAR bonus density of 8.0 as set forth in (the Code), to the extent that no less than 20 percent of the residential dwelling units included within the Proposed Project will be Affordable Housing, as such Affordable Housing is defined.”
That revised filing means more affordable housing units on site and more units overall.
Previously, Related officials at a public meeting this month said the units under the revised plan would go from 250 to 305, with the on-site affordable units going from 25 to 61 units.
One thing that remained unclear was just how that text amendment passed the Zoning Commission. While neighbors were uniformly supportive of the Related project making the changes allowed in its PDA filing, they were concerned about other parts of the affected district – especially including underutilized tracts of land between Shawmut Street and Harrison Avenue in the New York Streets neighborhood.
A spokesperson for the BPDA could not confirm whether or not those areas had been excluded by the Commission in the final text amendment passed on Dec. 14. Neighbors at a Dec. 5 meeting were against the amendment if the entire district were included, but favored it with just the district containing the Quinzani’s project.
Related Beal told the Sun it was happy to take the next step in working to develop the property and remove from the landscape some vacant and blighted buildings.
“We continue to work collaboratively with and apply feedback from the community, the BPDA, the BCDC, and the neighborhood’s stakeholders, to finalize a plan that adds value to the area and its residents,” wrote a spokesperson for Related in a statement this week.
The revised project got its first airing on Monday night at the Old Dover Neighborhood Association, where new renderings were shown and the new filing was discussed.
Of particular importance to members of Old Dover was the traffic and circulation plan as it relates to East Berkeley Street – a point of contention for several years at Old Dover.
“That intersection (Harrison and East Berkeley) is a problem there,” said John Connelly of Old Dover. “I’m very much in support of this site being developed, but there is concern about what will be done with that intersection.”
A member of the Related team told Old Dover that they had planned for the entrance to be on Traveler Street precisely because of that situation. Though there would be an exit under the development plan onto East Berkeley Street for trucks, those using the garage would enter and exit on Traveler via the new mid-block connector behind the building.
They also promised to bring out their traffic planner to a future Old Dover meeting to discuss their DPIR filings on traffic in more detail.
Another noteworthy question from Old Dover was about demolition of the old buildings, something that has been requested from the New York Streets Neighborhood Association as well.
“We are in the South End protection area so any demolition of buildings, even if not historic have to through that approval process,” said the Related team. “We understand the City is less apt to approve demolition permits when there isn’t an approved project to take the building’s place.”
Translated, it mean that the old bean sprout and bakery buildings would likely remain in their current state until after the project is completely approved by the BPDA Board and the Zoning Commission.
The PDA filing on Friday detailed a 14-story building containing up to approximately 324 residential units,as well as up to approximately 8,500 square feet of retail/restaurant/ commercial/existing or start-up business or not-for-profit affordable cultural space located on the ground floor. In total, the project will contain a maximum of up to 356,500 square feet, comprised of up to approximately 348,000 square feet of residential space in up to approximately 324 residential rental and homeownership units and accessory residential uses and up to approximately 8,500 square feet of ground floor retail. The project will also contain a below-grade garage containing up to approximately 180 spaces that will be dedicated for use by residents, customers, occupants and/or visitors. The filing indicated the spaces may in the future be rented or sold to area residents.
It represents a redesign of the project that includes less brick and more glass, a change demanded by the Boston Civic Design Commission (BCDC) last summer when they rejected the original design. Related came back with a design first unveiled in October to the New York Streets Neighborhood Association – which includes brick bump outs that recede into more glass and brick facades higher up on the building.
The current design, as proposed, was still not to the liking of New York Streets – which issued a letter following the October meeting saying it wasn’t completely in support of the new design.
The filing of the DPIR and PDA start a brand new process, which includes more public meetings yet to be scheduled.
Related has said they hope to break ground on the project in 2017.