BIFT, Related Beal Hold Community Meeting Regarding 41 Berkeley St.

The Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BIFT), along with developer Related Beal, updated the community on their plans for the lot at 41 Berkeley St. in the South End as the school continues to move forward with its plan to move to Nubian Square. The team held a community meeting on September 22 both in person at BIFT, as well as on Zoom.

After hearing from BIFT and their plans to move to Roxbury, Alex Provost of Related Beal explained where in the permitting process the 41 Berkeley St. proposal is. The proposal is for a 192 unit senior care center with Atria Senior Living, a 4,500 square foot community center, 60 underground parking spaces, and an open space element. Additionally, the project will feature retail space and 18 units of affordable housing, and linkage payments of more than $2 million to the neighborhood.

Provost reported that in July of last year, a Letter of Intent (LOI) was filed with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), then in October a Project Notification Form (PNF) was filed. He added that BFIT filed its PNF earlier this year.

“We are now more or less in the same place of the BPDA entitlement process,” Provost said, referring to both projects, and are “really trying to pair up our processes looking towards an approval from the BPDA, ideally mid-next year.”

Currently, the 41 Berkeley project is “working through large project review with Article 80” and the Planned Development Area (PDA), for which approval will come first before moving to the South End Landmark Dis trict Commission (SELDC) for approval.

Both Impact Advisory Group (IAG) and public meetings for the Article 80 process have been held, and Provost said that after a “gap in communication as we tried to work out some design issues internally with the BPDA,” the project team is “looking forward to continuing that public process and continuing that engagement with the community moving forward.”

Provost said that next steps include the issuance of a Scoping Determination by the BPDA, “followed by additional public meetings” and a Draft Project Impact Report.

This proposal is within the Boston Center for the Arts/ Franklin Institute Community Facilities subdistrict, which is “outlined in the zoning code as a PDA overlay district,” Provost said, and allows for more flex- ibility with zoning laws. He said that the purpose of this designation was to allow the area to “be subject to large scale development given its proximity to Tremont St. and Berkeley St.,” both of which have more commercial space.

The subdistrict requires that 20 percent of the site has to be “open to the sky and publicly accessible,” and this proposal includes 24 percent open space. Additionally, the allowed Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is 5.0, while the maximum building height is 110 feet “to the top of the last occupiable floor with mechanical penthouse and the like above that,” according to Provost.

We are really, really excited to reenergize the community and restart this process,” Provost said. A new project website has launched, where the public can learn more about the project and interact with the team regarding any questions, comments, or concerns, which can be found at 41berkeley.com.

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