Review group split on ‘Serenity’ project

S. HUNTINGTON—Half the members of a community advisory group for a luxury apartment project proposed for 105A S. Huntington Ave. have signed a letter to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) opposing the project. Another four members signed a letter in support of the project.

The BRA will issue a scoping document in the next month to developer Anthony Nader that can either request changes to the project or approve it as is.

Among the complaints listed in the opposition letter are the project’s height and need for variances; the project’s residential use instead of institutional, like most of its would-be neighbors; its “wall-like” facade; the small size of the proposed units; the number of units; and hidden identities of investors in the project.

The letter supporting the project lists the demand for more housing in the area; the thoughtful design of the building; the creation of jobs and taxes in developing a vacant lot; and wide community support in favor of the project.

“This is a beautiful project. It will have such a positive impact on the neighborhood. There’s a need for housing in this area. If you have people who are opposing housing, what else are they going to oppose?” Nader said. “What is their vision of the future?”

“There’s really no place of quality for families that want to live and work in this area,” he added.

The community Impact Advisory Group (IAG) is a city-appointed group of residents and other stakeholders that advise the city on potential impacts of building projects. Of the 14 members of this project’s IAG, seven have signed a letter sent to the BRA opposing the project while four have sent another letter supporting it.

IAG member and Mission Hill Main Streets business group Executive Director Richard Rouse told the Gazette that fellow IAG member Kevin Moloney seemed determined to dislike the project from the beginning. Moloney was the first signatory in the opposition letter.

The 195 luxury rental units in the multi-building development, called “The Serenity,” would include townhouses and apartment buildings of one-, two- and three-bedroom units targeted at graduate students and families. The project would also include 26 affordable units, 1,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 176 parking spaces in an underground garage.

If the BRA’s scoping document requests changes to the project, the developers can file a draft project impact report, a revised draft of the project, to continue developing the property. If that happens, the BRA will open another public comment period and host at least one more public meeting.

Cedar Valley Development, managed by Nader, purchased the 1.1-acre parcel at 105A S. Huntington Ave. from the state in 2005, amid controversy. The site had been used by North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) since the 1970s.

An illustration of the proposed project at 105A S. Huntington Ave. (Courtesy Image)

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