Positive reaction to Art Park plan

February 7, 2014
By

The reaction was mostly positive during a meeting to discuss a slightly changed plan to turn the Art Park site, which is City-owned land between Parker and Terrace Streets, into community gardens and residential and retail space.

About 40 people attended the Boston Redevelopment Authority meeting on Jan. 23 at the Tobin Community Center. The BRA has set a deadline to comment on the project for today, Feb. 7.

Sebastian Mariscal Studio, Inc. (SMS) has a proposal to redevelop the Art Park site into 44 apartments with 10 affordable-housing units, 58,000 square feet of green space and 4,000 square feet of retail space. The site will have 30 parking spaces and 82 bike-parking spaces. The rents of the apartments will range from $1,800 to $3,200.

The site will also have community gardens on the roof of the buildings, along with a solar-panel farm towards the Terrace Street side. It is expected to be LEED-certified platinum, which is the construction industry’s highest energy-efficient rating. The site is slated to produce more energy than it will use.

The plan has changed slightly since SMS presented it to the public in December. The number of apartments has increased by three units, including two more handicap accessible units. SMS has also reduced the amount of retail space by 3,000 square feet and has added entry pavilions to the complex on Parker Street. The changes were suggested by the public during a December meeting.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) have been working together for almost two years to redevelop the Art Park site. The Art Park is an area with murals, mosaic footpath tiles and colorful furniture. The park would be dismantled, but some elements might be incorporated in the redeveloped site.

Mission Hill resident Joe Barry said he was originally against building anything on the site when the process first began, but that the “very good project” won him over.

“I think the majority is for it,” he said.

The project has a unique design with the buildings being built into the landscape. A person standing on Parker Street will not see any building structures on the site, as the one-, two- and three-story buildings will be built into the downward slope of the topography.        The buildings will not be built in a block-type pattern, but will rather be constructed in an interspersed manner throughout the site, creating several courtyards. Those courtyards will have art elements and vegetation and will be open to the public during the day.

Francie Hauck, who gardens at the site with her husband and son, echoed Barry’s sentiment about the project. She said she didn’t want anything built on the site, but that the current plan is “the least invasive proposal that was proposed.”

“This is an ideal opportunity to minimize the invasiveness of urban sprawl while providing housing,” said Hauck.

But there were some critics of the plan. Resdient Kathryn Brookins said it should be noted on record that some people from the beginning of the process have been against building anything on the site. Her husband, Oscar Brookins, took issue with the removal of trees and rose bushes that would occur because of the proposal.

The development team responded that if planned correctly, technology exists that would allow trees to be planted on top of the buildings.

The BRA is accepting public comments at TylerN.bra@cityofboston.gov or 617-918-4349.

For more information on the project, visit bit.ly/1ff6S3T.

A sketch of the proposed building from the Terrace Street side, showing grass-covered rooftops that will be ground-level on Parker Street above. (Courtesy Illustration)

A sketch of the proposed building from the Terrace Street side, showing grass-covered rooftops that will be ground-level on Parker Street above. (Courtesy Illustration)

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