Four South End Projects Approved by the South End Landmark District Commission

At the South End Landmark District Commission hearing on Sept. 4, four cases were heard as part of the design review process. The first was at 619 Massachusetts Avenue #1, where an architect represented the owners who could not make the hearing. The applicants are looking to install a rear access carport with a deck over top of it. This would not add any square footage inside, but rather use part of the backyard instead. The two existing trees that sit on the property would be kept, and there would be a single garage door with a swing door to the side of it for access other than through the garage door.

They are proposing to raise the height of the wall to the 42 inches required for a railing in order to use the wall as a railing. The rear of this property is a public way, but the architect said that it is “very much a back alley,” as it is just the backsides of all the Massachusetts Avenue townhouses; no one faces onto the street. He said that the garage door will run underneath the deck; it does not swing in or into the public way. He also said that there is a precedent for a dog-tooth pattern for brick in the area, but Commissioners John Freeman and Diana Parcon said that it is “a little too out of character” and “too contemporary,” respectively. The project was approved and the applicant must put an anti-graffiti coating on the doors.

At 30 Dartmouth St., #4, the applicant said their plan is to remove the roof deck, which is currently leaking into their bedroom. He said the existing roof deck was approved in 1989, but Freeman said that roof decks are not grandfathered, even if they were previously approved. The applicant said that the roofers could take it off in three pieces, and Freeman said that this would constitute removal, which would require a mock-up process to approve a new deck.

“The regulations have gotten tighter since 1989 when this roof deck was originally approved,” Freeman said. “You might have to move the railing back.” He made a motion to remand this to a subcommittee with Commissioners Peter Sanborn and Catherine Hunt.

Sanborn told the applicant that the subcommittee would be viewing the mockup for visibility and would look at shifting it different ways to lessen the visibility. Isabelle Chase, who also lives at the property, said that they currently have $4,500 damage from the leak and wondered how long the subcommittee process would take.

Staff preservationist Nicholas Armata said that they would try to meet as soon as both parties are available, and he would work with the applicants to get this done in a timely manner.

Freeman’s motion was approved.

The project proposed for 540 Albany St. was heard at a previous hearing under Advisory Review, and the applicants were asked to bring shadow studies for their proposal, which they did. The project consists of demolishing an existing non-contributing building and constrict a four-building development with public space in phases, in a protection area. Jess Garnitz, an architect with Stantec, said that this project has received approval from the Boston Planning and Development Agency board as well as been endorsed by the neighborhood and the city.

The project is located in the Back Streets section of the South End, and the existing building does not meet current South End Protection Area standards.

The proposed 1.6 million square feet of space is split up into four different buildings that range in height from 92to 321 feet. Garnitz also talked about the green space, called Albany Green, which would be split up into sections: Sunny Lawn, Active Plaza, and Quiet Garden. She said that they are expecting this to be a bustling area where lots of people will gather to use the space.

The Commission voted that the building to be demolished is not historic, as well as to approve the application as submitted.

Lastly, at the corner of Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue, applicant Tom Parks proposed an artistic bike rack. He said that the plan is to install the bike rack four feet off of the light pole at the corner of Washington Street, and Mass. Ave. There was a full scale mockup at the site in June, and the final bike rack will be crafted from brushed stainless steel. The applicant has a letter of support from Olympia Flower Store, which the bike rack would sit in front of. Sanborn made a motion to approve the application as submitted, and the motion was approved by the Commission.

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