‘Serenity’ scheduled for BRA vote

June 14, 2013
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By Rebeca Oliveira and Peter Shanley/Gazette Staff

After over a year in development, the proposed luxury apartment building at 105A S. Huntington Ave., called “Serenity,” was scheduled for a vote from the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) on June 13, after the Gazette’s deadline and three days after a community meeting that outlines changes to the project since the last community meeting in September.

“The schedule for this appears crafted specifically to prevent adequate time for the community to review whatever it is that the developer and the BRA have agreed upon,” BRA-appointed Impact Advisory Group (IAG) member Kevin Moloney told the Gazette in an email. “This is wrong and does not serve well the interests of Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill.”

The developers presented changes to the project during the community meeting on June 10. They included a height change from 10 to 13 stories, and an increase to 32 affordable units from the previous 26. The garage entrance has also been relocated so it is not visible from the street and the lobby has been redesigned to allow sightlines between S. Huntington Avenue and the Jamaicaway.

The developers expect the project to start construction early next year, assuming BRA approval. Most of the 35 people present at the meeting supported the project.

“We’ve attended every public meeting on the [corridor plan] and listened to what all members of the community have had to say. We’ve met individually with many who care about the neighborhood and worked hard for months with the BRA to make this right,” Nader told the Gazette in an email last week.

“The BRA should immediately postpone any consideration of this matter by the BRA board for at least a month,” Moloney told the Gazette earlier this month.

The developer was not required to hold any more community meetings at this point. Projects are not scheduled for a BRA vote until it is expected that they will be approved.

According to BRA spokesperson Melina Schuler, the developers have attended every meeting of the recently-approved “South Huntington Framework for Future Development Review” corridor plan, which address the types of developments preferred by the community and acceptable exceptions. The plan itself was prompted by the announcements of luxury apartment developments at 105A and 161 S. Huntington Ave.

During the corridor plan process, some residents expressed concerns that the guidelines are too friendly to the Serenity project, particularly by creating a “special height zone” that would not hinder the construction of such a tall building.

Nader’s company, Cedar Valley Development, purchased the 1.1-acre parcel at 105A S. Huntington Ave. from the state in 2006.

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