BVNA Votes in Favor of Proposed Stuart Street Tower

By Beth Treffeisen

After a long, arduous debate among Bay Village residents, the Neighborhood Association voted to not oppose the proposed 19-story tower slated for 212 Stuart Street.

In a Bay Village Neighborhood Association (BVNA) general meeting that took place this past Monday, members of the organization took to the ballot box to vote on whether they opposed this project or did not oppose this project.

In the end, 67 members voted to not oppose this project and 31 members voted to oppose this project. The BVNA has currently over 250 members.

This was not a public meeting but a vote of the BVNA Corporation itself. This decision will go into a letter to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) that will make the next determination on whether or not this building continues forward in the city process.

The proposed project calls for a 199-foot residential building with first floor retail that will be situated between the Revere Hotel and the South Cove apartments at the north entranceway of Bay Village. It will sit on top of the now blighted surface parking lot.

During the previous week, the Executive Committee of the BVNA also voted in favor of this project with 20 board members for, two board members against, and two abstaining.

“This project has led reasonable people to disagree and I think we know a lot of reasonable people in this neighborhood that are disagreeing,” said Gaye Bok a long time resident and board member.

She continued, “A lot of people expressed a lot of ambivalence when it was first presented and then a number of people changed their views of the project, including me, as the project changed.”

Bok cited the addition of the two townhouses in the back, along with the building’s setback and change in color shifted her views of this project.

Paul Miller a resident of Bay Village is opposed to this project because, one the height is way too tall for the area and secondly because it will set a precedent for allowing other tall buildings to make their way to the neighborhood.

“Right now when I was walking in the middle of the neighborhood I noticed that we have all this blue sky and it needs to be protected,” said Miller. “If this gets approved and developed we will be going through this same process every six years with all the empty lots in the neighborhood.”

Right now, there are about four empty lots mostly serving as surface parking lots along Arlington Street and Columbus Ave. in the Bay Village that could potentially be developed in the future.

Sarah Herlihy the President of the BVNA disagreed and was ready to see this particular parking lot go.

“For me, I don’t want to walk by this parking lot anymore,” said Herlihy. “This is more than I’ve seen any developer change his project over the last nine years.”

Clyde Bergstresser towards the end of the meeting asked if anyone in the audience was truly still undecided on this project. With no hands in the air he said laughing, “So we’re really just talking about how we feel.”

As a photographer, Bergstresser who is in support of this project said that he tries to look at a place and capture its spirit. Looking at the spot of where this tower will go that serves as an entrance into Bay Village now, he said, “It’s depressing – I mean it is depressing.”

He said that the parking lot is acting as a depressing way to welcome people in and out of the community and it is not how he would like to capture the spirit of the neighborhood.

Bergstresser said, “It’s the north entrance gateway to the rest of Boston and I would like something beautiful to balance the ugly of the Revere, and I’m sorry, the South Cove.”

The comment period with the BPDA is open until this Friday, April 14, 2017.

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