The Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) has been holding virtual hearings after gathering a backlog of cases during the first couple months of the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, the focus was on smaller scale projects, but the hearings now include larger scale projects such as the Motor Mart Garage project in the Bay Village area and the Scape residential building proposal for Boylston St. in the Fenway, both of which were heard art the July 21 virtual ZBA hearing.
201-241 Stuart St.
At 201-241 Stuart St., attorney Michael Flannery and architect Phil Casey presented the proposal for the Motor Mart Garage, which includes the construction of a new residential tower with approximately 231 units. There will be 672 total parking spaces.
The eight story residential tower consists of 39 studio units, 75 one bedroom units, 80 two bedroom units and 29 three bedroom units. The building will feature basement level retail space, and Flannery said that the required FAR is 10 but the proposed is 13.1.
Flannery said that there are no affordable units on site, but the developer will be contributing funds towards the 85 units of affordable housing being built at 288 Harrison Ave. in Chinatown.
Faisa Sharif from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said this project was subject to “lengthy community review” during the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) Article 80 review process. She did mention that the Bay Village Neighborhood Association has written and submitted a letter outlining its concerns about construction management, particularly with the fact that the 212 Stuart Street mixed use building construction will be happening concurrently. The mayor’s office went on the record in support of the project.
Councilors Flynn and Essaibi-George are also in support, along with several other unions.
An attorney representing 20 Park Plaza, which is across from the Motor Mart Garage, said that he is opposed to the project because the project is “too tall and too dense for this location” and the “proponent cannot show any valid special circumstance” to build the building in the way it is proposed.
The ZBA also reported that eight letters of opposition were received.
The ZBA voted to approve this proposal with the proviso that it undergo continued BPDA design review.
1260 Boylston St.
The proposal at 1260 Boylston St. has been adjusted since first presented in April of 2019, when British-based developer Scape proposed a dormitory building for the space that was not affiliated with any particular university in the City.
The site is also home to Ramrod/Machine, an LGBTQ+ friendly nightclub and performance venue. Those involved with the nightclub were not happy with the originally proposed replacement space, and the community as a whole was vehemently against the dormitory proposal.
The current proposal includes around 477 rental units with retail on the ground floor, and a 10,000 square foot ‘Boylston Black Box,’ an “LGBTQ-centric venue for the performing arts—anchored by a 156—seat theater which will be delivered and operated on a not-for-profit basis,” according to the BPDA project site.
Attorney Victor Baltera said that there are 68 total affordable units as part of the project, and added that the Baseball Tavern will be relocated into this new property.
He said that the allowed height is 115 feet “with bonuses,” but the proposed project is 163 and 15 stories at some parts. From west to east, the building steps down 13 stories and from the front of Boylston back, it steps down to 11 stories.
Baltera said that an FAR of 5.5 is allowed, but they are requesting an FAR of 7.1 with the theater as the benefit in exchange for going over.
Architect Rich Curtiss said that on the second floor, there will be a 12,000 square foot area with common space for the residents, including a gym, a communal dining area, work areas, a library, and outdoor dining space. There is also a small outdoor area on the 14th floor.
No parking is proposed for the area as it is “well serviced” by public transit and other modes of transportation, the team said.
The ZBA reported that they had received 16 letters of support.
Shanice Pimentel from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said that this project has gone through an “extensive and successful community process,” and has been supported by organizations like the Fenway Community Development Corporation (CDC), the Kenmore Square Business Association, and the Boston Arts Academy. She said the Mayor’s office is also in support of the project.
Dolores Boogdanian, a resident of Audubon Circle, voiced some of her concerns about the project, including that she is “concerned about a concentration of students in our neighborhoods as opposed to university campuses” and had concerns about the height and the “nature of the relief sought” by the applicants. The ZBA voted to approve the project with continued BPDA design review.