SELDC Approves New Six-Story Mixed-Use Building at 1395 Washington St.

The South End Landmark District Commission (SELDC) approved–with provisos–a new six-story building at 1395 Washington St. at its hearing on May 3, after three previous advisory reviews.

The proposal includes the demolition of the existing one-story commercial building at the ad-dress. The new six-story building will feature three commercial spaces on the ground floor, with 33 residential units on the floors above. The units will be a mixture of studios, one bed-room, and one bedroom plus dens.

Attorney Marc LaCasse said that the project has received Article 80 Small Project Review ap-proval by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).

Architect Dartagnan Brown explained that the height has been “brought down below the 70 foot threshold,” and now sits at 69 feet, 11 inches.

The building is located in the middle of two taller buildings; the one on the right is a more con-temporary building and the one on the left is a contributing historic building.

There had previously been issues with proposed windows and the abutters next door, but Brown said that the team “hosted a bunch of meetings” with their representatives and that issue has been resolved.

Changes have been made to the sidewalks outside the building, to comply with the city’s Complete Streets program.

Small changes have been made to the ground floor facade as well, moving from a lighter brick to a more “iron spot magnesium brick” that is “playing off the reddish tones” of historic brick in the neighborhood without replicating it exactly. The top floor will be a lighter color, and the ground floor retail features darker gray, while the residential entry features sandstone and brass.

The top cornice line has been “pulled slightly down from the first floor residential windows,” Brown said, “to allow that sill expression to occur below the windows.” The retail signage bands are wide enough for signage for future tenants, and feature gooseneck lighting from above where a sign would go. The top floor has also been stepped back, and the originally proposed seventh floor has been removed.

The rear elevation features OKO fiber cement panels in a light color, with balconies on the rear facade as well.

Commissioners asked a variety of clarifying questions about different parts of the proposal, but overall the feedback was positive on the changes that have been made to the design.

There is a roof deck proposed, but the Commissioners said they would like to see a mockup of it once the building is constructed to ensure it will not be visible from a public way.

“I think this kind of started out as a showy project,” said Commissioner John Freeman, “but I think it’s turned into something that’s very sophisticated.” He called it a “nice example of new construction in the South End.”

Commissioner Catherine Hunt agreed, saying that there are “lots of nice improvements here.”

Commissioner John Amodeo said that he likes the sidewalk extensions, but wondered wheth-er or not there was room for a potential restaurant tenant to have tables outside the restau-rant while still allowing pedestrians to walk up and down the sidewalk. There was discussion about this, but it was determined that a future tenant would work those details out if and when the time comes.

Amodeo also said he would like to see more views of the proposed head house on the roof, and wondered what details are included in this design that draw from the historic building to the left.

“I haven’t seen a gesture other than the height of the building that responds to the building on the left,” Amodeo said.

Brown discussed some details that are still being worked out, including “trellis detailing that creates the deck spaces,” as well as floor transitions that match up with the windows on the building on the left.

“Anything you can do that doesn’t compromise the organization of the building but can relate to the building to the left, that would be great,” Amodeo said.

Amodeo also talked about the “glass in front of the door frames” on the front facade, saying that it “feels uncomfortable to me.” The doors will open to let fresh air in, but there is no room for anyone to step out.

During public comment, Stephen Jerome said that “I really feel that it’s come a long way,” but expressed concerns with the top floor and the white color that it appears to be in the renderings. He also echoed concerns from commissioners about the Juliette balconies, saying that getting rid of the “horizontal band…would be really helpful.” Jerome also said he appreciated the lowering of the height to conform with the limit in the district.

Brown assured him and the Commission that white is not the color that will be used on the top floor; rather it is a lighter gray color.

Commissioner Freeman made a motion to approve this proposal “substantially as submitted tonight with some provisos,” which include that there is to be a site mockup for all materials as well as “some options for the treatment of the glass railing,” there is to be a mockup of the rook deck prior to placing the final posts, and there will be “one more meeting and presentation on the facade” when 75 percent of the design is complete that addresses the view of the mechanical head house from Washington St. Freeman also said that the Commission would like to see more details on the facade that reflect the contributing building to its left. The Commission approved the motion.

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