ZBA Approves 71 Compact Living Units; Four Story Addition at 595-603 Newbury St.

The Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) on Tuesday approved 71 compact living units and a four story addition on top of the existing three story building at 595-603 Newbury St. The application also includes a change of use from commercial to residential.

Attorney Jeff Drago said that the proponent is “seeking to erect a four story addition on an existing three story commercial structure,” and build 71 units. He said that the proposal was approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) in July.

The building is located “across from the Mass Pike,” Drago said, and “has been idle for a number of years.”

He said that the proponent has provided more amenity space than is required by the compact living guidelines, including 2050 square feet of interior amenity space and 2,000 square feet outside, with picnic tables and both outdoor and indoor bike storage.

All units will be studios or one bedrooms, and the building will feature a gym, storage for tenants, a bike repair station, a mail room lobby, a trash room, and more.  The units range from a little over 300 square feet to a little over 500 square feet in size.

The roof does not include a deck, and there are no balconies on the building as part of this project. The units will be tailored towards “young professionals,” Drago said, and not to students. Nine of the units will be affordable and there will also be a “payout,” he said.

Kennedy Avery from City Councilor Kenzie Bok’s office said that the Councilor is “strongly in support” of this proposal, as executive suites have been removed and the streetscape will be improved in the surrounding area. She also said that the Councilor believes compact living units are fitting for the area given its proximity to public transit.

Molly Griffin from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said that the office is in support of the project, as was the Carpenters Union and Kenmore Association President Pam Beale.

Dolores Boogdanian, a resident of Park Dr., said that “I support housing in the city; we desperately need it,” but added that she is “not sure about these tiny little places for people,” as she isn’t sure about whether the proposal “encourages long term residency.” The ZBA voted to approve the proposal with design review from the BPDA

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