By Beth Treffeisen
The newest plans for 1000 Boylston, the part land and part air rights project that will fill in the gapping hole over the Massachusetts Turnpike next to the Hynes Convention Center, has returned, revising the design once again to better fit within the neighborhood.
The developers Weiner Ventures LLC shared their latest designs at a Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) public meeting on Tuesday, October 3, in front of packed room at St. Cecelia’s Church.
The proposed project consists of a single condominium tower with 108 units rising from a podium base containing two floors of retail and restaurant space and a two-story above-grade parking garage holding 175 spaces, and an amenities floor.
A green space and outdoor amenity area for condominium unit owners will be located on the roof level of the podium.
The condominium tower has been reduced in height by 82 feet from 566 feet to 484 feet.
This comes as a major change from the previous designs presented at a public meeting this past February that sported two towers, one rental apartments and other condos, jutting from a base that had two floors of retail and four floors of an above-ground parking.
“This is the most improvements in change to a building in response to community activity I’ve ever seen,” said Fritz Casselman who is on the Citizen Advisory Board. “The second tower is no longer and the hole is still covered.”
This process began in 2013 with initial plans to build a tower on top of a base that spanned over part of the Turnpike, but left a hole looking down to the railway and highway beneath it.
Although that building got approval from the neighborhood, there was one missing component to the project – filling in the hole over the Turnpike.
From that time until Weiner Ventures returned in January 2017 with project notification, they had been working with the Prudential Center to gain rights over the last parcel in the area.
Now, the project site will embody four parcels from land of St. Cecilia’s, air rights from the City, parcel from Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and now the Prudential parcel – filling in the eyesore of a hole.
“This building doesn’t exist in Boston,” said David Manfredi the architect. “Every floor is different then one below it, creating folds in the building.”
The new design has wider sidewalks for pedestrians and an activated edge with residential shops and restaurants. One problem might be installing the street trees, considering there is no ground underneath the project.
A canopy will line the lower podium and wrap around the retail space not only for ascetics but to break up with wind.
When wind comes down the façade, it will hit the canopy and it will break it down before reaching the people on the sidewalks below, making residents happy they won’t be knocked over by high winds.
One subject that had residents concerned was shadows. Although this design will have a much smaller affect than the previous one, residents still were uncertain.
“Every building creates shadows but it is significantly smaller than the last proposal,” said Manfredi.
Members of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) Green Committee asked that the developers consider making the building entirely electric, so that one day it could potentially use all renewable energy.
Marvin Wool also representing NABB made a point that the neighborhood association would like to see the affordable housing put on site as part of the Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP).
“The neighborhood suffers from lack of affordable housing,” said Wool. “There are a lot of buildings being built but only the top percent can afford to live there.”
Long-time advocate Sandra Lewis agreed and also shared concerned over how she is worried that the neighborhood is already at capacity citing traffic as a major problem in the area.
“I like the design of the building but I would like it a little smaller,” said Lewis. “There’s just so many new buildings coming to this area and it’s just too much.”
A Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting will take place on Tuesday, October 11. The comment period ends on November 6.