Residents file suit against Art Park project

November 14, 2014
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Construction of a mixed-use development at the Art Park site is in limbo after Mission Hill residents Oscar and Kathryn Brookins filed a lawsuit over the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals decision to grant variances for the project, according to John Feuerbach of the Department of Neighborhood Development.

The Art Park site is City-owned land between Parker and Terrace Streets that is slated to be redeveloped into community gardens and residential and retail space. The site currently contains murals, mosaic footpath tiles and colorful furniture, and community gardens that were operated by local residents.

The developer, Sebastian Mariscal Studio, Inc. (SMS), plans 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 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 Brookinses and SMS did not respond to requests for comment.

Feuerbach said that the matter currently sits in the Suffolk Superior Court. He said the worst possible outcome would be for the court to side with the Brookinses, but that “we don’t expect that.” Asked what will happen if that does occur, Feuerbach responded, “I don’t want to go down that way just yet.”

Feuerbach said SMS has been meeting with the Brookinses to try to come to an agreement, but none has been reached. He said the hope is that the issue will be resolved “sooner rather than later” and “within this calendar year.”

Over the past 15 years, the Brookinses have filed lawsuits against several real estate projects in Mission Hill and the Longwood Medical Area, sometimes gaining settlements, sometimes having the suits tossed out of court. In 2012, they were among the plaintiffs who settled a lawsuit out of court, reportedly for a large sum of money, over zoning approval of Northeastern University’s controversial East Village dorm project.

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