SELDC Provides Feedback on Second Proposal for Outdoor Seating at 505 Tremont St.

The South End Landmark District Commission heard a second advisory review on September 15 for an addition on the ground floor facade at 505 Tremont St. for permanent outdoor seating.

Tim Love from Utile Architecture & Planning came back before the Commission after previously presenting a proposal in July for which the Commissioners had several concerns.

The proposal is for the “relatively large street plaza” by the Atelier 505 on Tremont St., to create an extension of the indoor space, which will be a a partnership between Down Under Yoga and organic cafe Life Alive.

Life Alive is hoping to have more seating in this proposed new space, which was originally intended to be a three season tent structure, but the Commission told the applicants in July that such a temporary structure cannot be approved.

“This is a tenant driven project,” Love said, adding that the landlord does support it.

Love said that as he understood it, concerns from the Commission at the last hearing included the fact that it was a temporary structure, as well as that it was neither permanent nor temporary enough. “There wasn’t exactly a clear direction,” he said.

The new proposed structure would sit on the plaza pavement, and include “column shoes based on structural engineering.” There would be four bays in the front, and a “bay and a half on the side,” Love said. “Each of the four bays has one fixed and two sliding panels” that can be either opened or shut depending on the weather.

He showed the proposal from several angles, and added that the entire structure would remain on the property line, including “the overhang of the canopy.”

This structure would be “permanent as long as this tenant is here,” Love added, and would remain up year-round. The structure would be made of a steel frame with an aluminum frame three panel sliding system that would be installed into the other frame. The roof would be made of canvas and slightly sloped for drainage purposes. The proposed glass panes are single pane tempered glass, he said.

The structure does not have any insulation, he added.

“Why don’t they just do a building addition if they’re trying to give tenants more space,” Commissioner Catherine Hunt asked.

Love reiterated that this is a tenant funded project, and there is also a parking garage located under the plaza. He said that the “level of quality” proposed for this structure would make it appear to be more permanent.

Commissioner Freeman asked if the applicant would “consider any other materials for the roof” or a different proportion.

“This is pretty much the minimum slope to have water runoff,” Love said. A more flat roof would require a drainage system.

Freeman said he would like the structure to be more permanent. “It still feels too temporary to me,” he said.

“There was a lot of work with this proposal looking at the costs and understanding whether this would be viable,” Love said.

“We have to find a balance if you’re looking for an approvable application,” SELDC Chair John Amodeo said. “You presented a strategy that we can think about as approvable,” he added, but as it stands now, he said it “still looks far too temporary,” especially with the proposed roof pitch and canvas material.

“We’re trying to help you achieve an approvable proposal in the South End,” he said. “If we’re approving this because it’s a permanent structure…it has to look permanent, even if it’s dismountable…”

There were a few comments from the public about issues relating to cooking odors and potential garbage being left behind, but the Commission did not spend much time on them as these items are not within its purview and can be worked out with the development team. The team said that the cooking odors would be properly vented and should not cause any issues.

Amodeo said that he does not feel this proposal is “ready for an application yet,” and Love said that “I’ll have to talk to the client about whether they are interested in pursuing another advisory or not…we’ll have to determine whether we’re planning on moving ahead or not.”

Freeman said that “I think there’s a direction where this could become approvable…”

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