Housing, retail planned for Clutch Works site

August 10, 2012
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After years of failed redevelopment ideas, the Boston Clutch Works site at 1486 Tremont St. could become rental housing and storefront retail in a new plan proposed by local developer Jason Savage and others.

The team has reviewed previous plans and come up with something “more appropriate for Mission Hill and more appropriate for Tremont,” said Russell Preston, design director at the Principle Group, another team member.

The developers also aim to erect a separate apartment and retail building on the lot at Tremont and Faxon Streets, between the Tobin Community Center and the Knights of Columbus hall. Both projects are in the planning stages and could be formally proposed this fall.

Clutch Works is an auto supply store surrounded by a large parking lot, whose owner has been looking to sell for years. Plans for a KFC fast-food drive-through restaurant drew community outrage a decade ago. The most recent plan was for a 66-unit condo and retail building, which was approved by the City in 2006 but was never built.

Preston said his team used the 2006 plan as a guide, keeping the parts the community liked at the time. The new plan also has 66 units, but in two buildings that are shorter than the 2006 plan and have less parking and more than double the open space.

The team is following the ideals of “New Urbanism,” Preston said, meaning “walkable, human-scale spaces.”

The two buildings would stand four stories tall along Tremont and three stories in the back, to reduce the impact on Delle Avenue homes overlooking the site. A driveway leading to a rear courtyard would separate the buildings.

The units would be studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, all of them rental apartments. The developers would restrict undergraduate students from living there in a nod to neighborhood concerns, Preston said.

“It’s very important to us that this not be an undergrad student building,” he said.

Preston said that rents would be comparable to the Longwood building on Tremont, where current listings show one-bedrooms going for more than $2,000 a month. The building would have one unit marketed at an “affordable” rate.

Most parking would be in garages within the buildings, with a few surface spaces, for a total of 60 spaces. The garages also would contain racks for up to 74 bicycles. The team is minimizing car parking due to the many nearby public transit options.

The team’s plan for the Faxon Street lot is similar: a four-story building with 14 rental apartments and ground-floor retail. It remains to be determined if any units will be priced at affordable rates. It would have 14 parking spaces in a garage and couple of surface spaces, along with racks for 16 bicycles.

The lot is currently vacant, but often used for parking—“illegally,” Preston said.

The development team has been working on the plans for the two buildings for a year and recently held private meetings with abutters and officials. Preston said the team intends to file plans with the Boston Redevelopment Authority in the fall and expects both projects to require no zoning variances.

The team, which also includes New Urban Partners, is collectively known as JSMW LLC.

Corrected version: This version corrects the number of parking spaces proposed for the Clutch Works site and the affordability element of the Faxon Street proposal.

A draft illustration of the buildings proposed for the Clutch Works site. (Courtesy Illustration)

A draft illustration of the building proposed for Tremont and Faxon Streets. (Courtesy Illustration)

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