An operations manager from Tufts Medical Center told the East Berkeley Neighborhood Association (EBNA) that they do intend to develop the empty lot between Harrison Avenue and Washington Street in the near future, but in the meantime would put more effort into keeping the property clean and orderly.
President Ken Smith welcomed Mr. Foley from Tufts to Tuesday’s EBNA meeting, which was held at the patio bar of Cinquecento Restaurant, and he told the Association they do have plans for the lot – which now serves as employee parking.
“We would like to develop it at some point,” he said. “Right now, we’re working with the BPDA [Boston Planning and Development Agency] on an Article 80 process for 288 Tremont St. near our campus…We’re doing that part first and once that’s complete – maybe 2023 – then we’ll look at developing that lot. It’s about three years off.”
He said they are in the middle of community meetings with the BPDA on the Tremont Street property. In that project, Tufts plans to construct a hotel, 500,000 square feet of function space, and 300 low-income housing units over 250 parking spaces.
Following that, they’ll move on to the employee surface lot in New York Streets.
Foley said they would be building residential, but they would like to keep some employee parking. That’s because, he said, they are losing employee spots all over the downtown at an alarming rate. He said they will have lost 800 to 900 employee spaces within the next several years – a problem that could push desperate employees to infringe upon street parking.
“If we do a project, we would like to wrap it in housing and have some parking hidden behind it to the back,” he said. “We’re losing 400 employee spots at the Motor Mart in Back Bay. It’s getting developed and we’re getting kicked out. We probably don’t have long at the Herald Street garage. We’re going to lose 800 to 900 spaces for employees over the next several years. What we would do is put residential units on Traveler Street and wrap it around with the parking in the back. We are losing a lot of employee parking spots.”
Within the Motor Mart development, the garage is going from 1,090 spaces to 475 spaces.
In the meantime, community members said they applauded how much Tufts has done recently to clean up the lot, improvements that were made at the request of EBNA members.
Foley said they have added another person to clean up the lot on weekdays, and they will have the fence fixed by the end of May. He said there will also be new landscaping on both corners.
Dogs, however, continue to be an issue and he said they will identify problem dogs with their surveillance cameras and ask owners to change their habits in and around the lot. Green and open space is at a premium in the New York Streets, and many dog owners use the Tufts lot to run their pooches. However, some owners do not curb them.
Foley said they also plan to install dog poop bag dispensers and trash cans on the lot within 60 days.
•DAVIS COMPANIES MOVING ON SHAWMUT STREET
The Davis Companies will have an official groundbreaking in June for their project at the corner of Shawmut Avenue and Herald Street, but construction is long underway, they told EBNA Tuesday.
Chris Moore told EBNA they began construction in February with the demolition and abatement of the existing building, and they have selected Suffolk Construction as the general contractor.
Ted Davenport of Suffolk said in the next few weeks they would begin excavating materials for the expanded basement, trucking out soil and materials. That would be followed by the very noisy process of pounding sheeting into the ground for the foundation.
“In the next few weeks, you’ll start to hear the sheets being pounded in the ground,” he said.
The 16-story building will see a Tower Crane be assembled in June, with steel going vertical in the fall. They will construct the façade from September to January as they go up, and begin work over the winter on the interior.
Moore said they have a planned opening of October 2020 if all goes well.
The Davis project includes 138 condo units with 112 parking spaces in the basement and first two levels.
Two other pieces to the project, the nursing home under the control of the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church (BCEC), and the C-Mart Market property and lot under the control of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), are still forthcoming. They are, however, under the same Planned Development Area (PDA) and contain all of the Davis’s affordable housing requirements.
•MURAL GRAFFITI FESTIVAL IS BACK
Representatives for the Underground@Ink park below the Expressway were on hand at EBNA to talk about their plans for the summer.
Highlighting the summer will be a graffiti mural festival to follow up on the successful festival two years ago. That will take place from June 24-29, with a block party on June 29.
There will be 10 artists participating this time around, with four from Boston, two from New York and one from Spain.
•Following the meeting, Cinquecento owner Jeff Gates welcomed EBNA for a social time and gathering, where folks chatted for more than an hour afterward. President Ken Smith said the weather was not the best, but the neighborhood camaraderie was fantastic.