Boston Redevelopment Authority Director Brian Golden held an unusual personal meeting with neighbors of Mission Hill’s controversial tower plan last week, and told the Gazette the project must be viewed with caution.
While stating he does not want to prejudge, Golden called the proposal for a 35-story, 395-unit tower at 45 Worthington St. a “massive project” that is “far greater in density and scale” than the neighborhood.
“It would be a real tragedy to lose the family-oriented character of those streets,” said Golden.
Meanwhile, the BRA is still studying whether the project is subjected to decades-old redevelopment plans that restrict the height and amount of housing. As the Gazette previously reported, that concern was raised by a critic of the project after examining property records. BRA spokesperson Nick Martin said there is no answer yet.
Golden spoke to the Gazette by phone several days after he went on a March 23 walking tour with neighbors of the project site. Equity Residential is the developer for the proposal and has told the BRA it will revise the project after encountering community opposition.
Golden said that “we have to be very careful what we do here.”
He met on March 23 with about 30 people, he said, including many children. He said he knew Brigham Circle well, as he went to nearby Boston Latin School in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and was “not anticipating a busy beehive of family activity.”
“I thought it was wonderful,” said Golden.
He said they walked around the neighborhood and saw the historic three-story brownstones that line the streets and the other large towers at 75 St. Alphonsus St. and 1575 Tremont St.
“It was really good for me to get my feet on the ground and size up the space and surroundings,” said Golden.
He said that it was a “really nice visit” and that they had a “respectful, friendly conversation.” Golden said he heard concerns about the size of the proposal, the affect it would have on traffic and how it would be a rental development that would lead to people living there “who would not participate in life of the neighborhood.”
Golden stressed that it is early in the process for the project and that the BRA has not received a project notification form yet from the developer. He said that although the BRA has been criticized in the past for not being fair, that will no longer be the case.
“Whether you’re a neighbor, a community group or developer, me or the BRA is not going to prejudge,” he said.