A second public meeting was held regarding the Northampton Street Residences, which is a proposed project for the surface parking lot located on Northampton Street between the Southwest Corridor Park and the Newcastle Court residential building. The project consists of 47 affordable housing units in a five and one-half story building. All units will be income-restricted.
Last October, the project team presented the original design for the project and allowed the community to provide feedback on the design. Since that meeting, Peter Spells of Transom Real Estate said that they have “begun conversations and exploration ab out activating the corridor from the T station down.” They have also talked with the South End Landmark District Commission for an advisory review, and anticipate conversations with the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Southwest Corridor Park Management Advisory Council (PMAC).
Spellios said that the design of the building is expected to change and morph as they receive more feedback from the South End Landmark District Commission as well as the public and others.
Spellios said that they hope to “find ways to drop no harm” and then enhance the park that is adjacent to the project, starting with adding water service. He said they will work with park stakeholders on a redesign of the park that will work for everyone.
The proposed building will sit directly next to the existing Newcastle Saranac building, with a shared space in between the two buildings. Spellios said that they anticipate the manager of the new building to be the same one as Newcastle Saranac. He also said that there will be a handicap-accessible ramp installed on the lower portion of the Newcastle building, which will lead to a small green space and the management and leasing office.
There will also be a drop-off space at the current curb cut where the parking lot is now—no parking will be allowed in that space.
Spellios said that the color of the brick has been designed to be cohesive with the Newcastle building, and the Commissioners at the South End Landmark District Commission “were comfortable with that,” he said. Additionally, the brick design is pixelated, which creates depth and richness to the building, Spellios said.
A comment was made that there should be more entrances and exits to the building, especially one on the side that abuts the park. Spellios said that fronting on that side of the building “would require de-greening on the area,” and “it’s harder to do it in a way that’s not going to disturb what’s beautiful” about the green area.
Having one way in and one way out “feels like a trap,” one neighbor said. Spellios said that there is no option to have a door in the courtyard in between the two buildings because there is a 5-foot grade change there, and also he doesn’t want to “appropriate any public space” as being for these residents only, because that is not the goal.
South End resident Carol Blair wondered about bad behavior in the courtyard and how that might be handled. Spellios said the purpose of the ramp in the courtyard is to “activate the lower level.”
He said they are hesitant to gate the area because “we are trying to build community, and gating makes it feel like people don’t belong.” He said they aren’t completely against putting aesthetically pleasing gates, but it will have to be done in a way that does not create an idea that it’s meant to keep people in or out. He said that the fact that the same management will be used for both buildings will be “very helpful” as well.
Ted Lubitz of Harbor Run Development, LLC, a partner on the project, said that for security reasons, one primary entrance is the way to go “to control who gets in and out and make sure it’s safe.”
The team is still unsure whether these units will be apartments for rent or condominiums for sale, as the funding sources are still to be determined. “We still have a while to go on the process,” Spellios said. He said they hope to begin the project post-2020. “Our process will end in February with the Zoning Commission,” said Michael Sinatra, Project Manager for the Boston Planing and Development Agency. The project also still has to go through the South End Landmark District Commission process, where they will be accepting design comments. The process with the parks department will also be taking comments, he added.