BPDA Holds Discussion Proposed Change of Use for 321 Harrison Ave. Project

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held a public meeting on April 7 to discuss changes to the project at 321 Harrison Ave. that is currently under construction.

Joe Imperato of BioMed Realty explained that BioMed is now the owner of the building and is proposing to change the use of the building from its previously approved use of office space to lab space, as previously reported by the Sun.

BioMed is an “owner, operator, and developer of life science real estate,” he said. The proposed changes include upgrades to mechanical systems and loading areas, as well as “minor architectural changes to mask the systems.”

He added that with the increase in interest for this type of life science real estate, he is “confident that a lab building can be occupied fairly quickly.”

Imperato also said that “we feel the change in use brings a number of benefits, economic and otherwise, to the area really immediately.”

He said that BioMed will “reaffirm our commitment to the promises made” to the original owner of the building, including “workforce financial contributions to infrastructure improvements and stormwater management improvements,” as well as improvements to landscaping and transportation benefits.

“I think we have 93 bike spaces within the garage,” Imperato said, and public bike racks that can fit 26 additional bikes. There will also be charging stations for electric bikes, as well as onsite bike repair, showers, and locker rooms.

Architect Mark Spaulding then discussed some of the proposed changes and how they would affect the eight story building “atop the existing parking structure” that has been approved and is currently under construction. 

“The main takeaway from this is that all of the benefits that were public realm improvements as part of the original project are still being constructed as originally designed and approved,” Spaulding.

He spoke about the “cross block connector between Harrison Ave. and Washington St.” The streetscape will be activated by retail on the ground floor as well.

He said that two “viewable” pieces of the change in construction fro what was originally approved include the addition of more rooftop mechanical equipment for the lab use, as well as a “connector to serve connection between this loading dock and the 321 Harrison building so that lab use can effectively be served from that dock which is on Mullins Way.”

Spaulding continued, “one of the details that was important to design staff was to incorporate the geometry of the connector with the canopy so that it looked intentional as a design element of the original project. It really is just to extend the canopy in the right side and allow it to connect with the architecture of 321 Harrison in a very intentional way.”

Additionally, the mechanical penthouse will be “extended to the east towards Harrison,” Spaulding said. The penthouse is not being made any taller, but rather just larger to fit all of the mechanical equipment that is required for a lab use.

There were not many questions or concerns from the public expressed at the meeting, but one resident did as about the penthouse and its design. Spaulding said that “through many studies,” the team has “determined it is better against the sky” for it to be a grayish tone rather than something darker, so the “profile of the building is what you read and focus on as opposed to the penthouse itself.”

For more information on this project and the proposed changes, including the full video from the meeting,  visit bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/321-harrison-avenue.

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