By Dan Murphy
At a special meeting of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) Licensing and Building Use Committee on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the owner of 29 Commonwealth Ave. sought to assuage neighbors’ concerns regarding the potential traffic, delivery and noise impacts from changing its use from an office building to a private club.
Sandy Edgerley said she and her husband Paul intend to repurpose the 11-story Haddon Hall as a club, targeting a “diverse and multi-generational” membership of 800.
The applicant proposes transforming the fifth floor into a “game room” while the sixth floor would be home to a fitness center and guest rooms would be located on the seventh through 10th floors. On the top floor, the ends of the building would be “pulled in” to create a larger outdoor patio area with seating for between 25 and 30.
In response to concerns raised at an Aug. 17 on-site meeting regarding the traffic study, Edgerley unveiled findings from a new study conducted this month that looked at projections based on the building’s current and proposed uses, as well as the traffic coming to and going from two other nearby private clubs – the Algonquin and University clubs.
Traffic counts were also taken during morning and evening peak-hours at three locations – on Commonwealth Avenue in front of the building; on Berkeley Street on the south side of Beacon Street; and at an additional location further down Commonwealth Avenue.
According to Edgerley, the newest traffic study indicates a private club would generate 300 vehicle trips to the building each day, compared with the current 408 daily vehicle trips.
Edgerley also assured neighbors that the average 2.2 deliveries expected to the building each day would “unequivocally” not block any of the surrounding alleyways. All deliveries and valet parking would take place at the existing six, metered parking-spaces in front of the building that will be converted into valet spaces, and a doorman would also be on hand to manage incoming and outgoing people cars and deliveries, she said.
Regarding sound management, Edgerley said the proposed patio would accommodate no live music, and that in addition to adhering to Back Bay sound ordinances, the rooftop would be equipped with monitors to ensure that sound levels outside don’t exceed 75 decibels.
Vicki Smith, chair of NABB’s board of directors, told this reporter while the group appreciated the applicant outlining the proposal on three occasions, neighbors remain steadfastly concerned regarding traffic along Berkley Street and the impact of a building in use 24 hours a day, seven days a week at that location.
“The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay has had as its mission over the past 60 years the protection of the residential quality of the Back Bay,” Smith wrote. “We believe that the use of 29 Commonwealth Ave. as a private, for-profit club is detrimental to the residential quality of life in the Back Bay and more detrimental than the current use.”