The Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) denied a proposal at 661-661A Tremont St. to build a rear addition to the first floor and basement to create more office space for Concept Properties.
Architect James Christopher said that the addition would be “approximately 13 by 13” feet, and a new stairwell would also be created as a second means of egress to “newly reconstructed decks” that would be increased in size. The occupancy and the height of the building will not be changed.
There is an existing head house and the roof deck is for exclusive use by the top floor unit on the fourth floor. The penthouse is also existing, and the wet bar has been taken out of the proposal.
Concept Properties currently occupies space in the basement and on the first floor, and four residential units are above that, Christopher said.
The proposal has the following violations: it’s in the Groundwater Conservation Overlay District (GCOD), usable open space is insufficient, the side yard setback is insufficient, excessive Floor Area Ratio, building height is excessive, insufficient rear yard, and extension of the town house/row house.
Christian Simonelli of the Boston Groundwater Trust said that he has received both the approval letter from the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) and the no harm letter that are required to satisfy the GCOD requirement. The ZBA confirmed receipt of these letters as well.
Kim Crucioli of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said that “a number of abutters meetings” were held on this proposal, and main concerns from neighbors include issues of privacy, security, size of the addition, and light.
She said that the “abutters also met with the applicant a number of times and couldn’t seem to resolve these issues.” She also said that “numerous letters of opposition” have been received from abutters and the Pilot Block Neighborhood Association (PBNA). She said the Mayor’s Office wants to leave the decision up to the ZBA.
City Councilors Ed Flynn and Michael Flaherty were in opposition to the project.
An abutter on Tremont St., who identified himself as “Korey” on the online meeting said he is opposed to the project, “mainly for the space that extends and the stairwell, as that will definitely exacerbate the parking situation.”
Matt Ramey, owner of Concept Properties, said he is in support of the proposal.
Noel Blair of the PBNA said that “we are in opposition to this proposal, which disregards both zoning requirements and abutter concerns.”
He said that the “main abutter concerns” are about the lower decks and stair that are proposed for the building’s rear. He said these “intrude on privacy.”
An abutter on Tremont St., who identified herself as “Kate,” said that “our owners are opposed for several reasons,” including security and privacy, as well as the responsiveness throughout the community process. This has been going on for a year and a half and we have not seen a lot of concessions within reason to our complaints and concerns.”
Christopher explained that the proposed addition “only comes off the building 13 feet. The stairwell only extends about a food and a half beyond that addition. It should also be noted that on the abutting property at 663 [Tremont St.], there is a current addition to the first level so our stairwell would not protrude too far past that.”
Additionally, he said that visual screening would be provided on the stairwell, which would primarily be used as a second way of exiting the building.
The ZBA ultimately voted to deny this project.