At a Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) community meeting, developers Suzanne and Leland DiMeco presented their plans for an environmentally-friendly development to be built at 1457 Tremont St., the current site of a dilapidated Knights of Columbus building.
Community members at the meeting generally did not oppose the proposal.
About 30 people attended the April 11 meeting at the Tobin Community Center.
The proposed building would be a 36,454-square-foot, mixed-use project with four floors of 40 residential units over ground floor commercial space.
The residential component of the building allows for five of the 40 units to be “affordable” at 70 percent area median income (AMI). There would be 24 studio units and 16 one-bedroom apartments. Residents would have access to a common area rooftop deck, which helps the development meet its open space requirements from the City’s zoning.
Residents making $48,000 to 80,000 annually qualify for 70 percent AMI, and “affordable” rent for a studio may be around $1,000. A one-bedroom at market rate would rent for $2,495 a month, which includes all utilities. The building would monitor electricity and water usage for each unit, and the information would be displayed publicly in the lobby to motivate residents to keep their consumption low.
Some residents at the meeting were concerned about allowing undergraduate students to rent the apartments and preferred if undergraduates were not allowed to rent. But, one resident said that undergraduates need to be allowed to rent.
“I’ve been priced out of my community because of buildings like this attracting a wealthier community and driving up rents,” said Rami Abou-Sabe. “Undergraduates are the economic engine for this neighborhood, and I don’t think you can ban a class of society from having access to an apartment.”
The developers said that they plan on restricting 75 percent of their units so that undergraduates could not live in them, but leaving 25 percent unrestricted and open to anyone.
The development would have very limited parking. Four garage parking spaces are proposed, two of which would be handicap spaces, and one would be reserved for “smart cars” that the residents could share and use when needed.
“Because this development is so close to transit, we’ve limited on-site parking to be consistent with the design intents of the project,” said Dan Anderson, the project’s architect.
The garage entrance and the resident entrance would be on Faxon Street, which is currently not paved but the developers would pave and sidewalk it. The developers said that since the location is so close to public transportation, the need for their residents to have a car would be low.
One resident asked if residents who own cars would be allowed to live in the building. Leland DiMeco responded that preference would be given to an applicant without a car, but they would work with a vehicle-owning tenant to find parking on a nearby lot.
The retail component of the development allows for one family style restaurant on the left side of the building, one retail business on the right side of the building, and one area to be reserved for Knights of Columbus and community space.
The building has goals to meet several certifications to demonstrate its low impact on the environment: Passive House, LEED, and WELL. These certifications would ensure high quality of construction and healthiness of the building’s indoor air quality. The building would have a ventilation system to filter particulates out of the air, and a solar panel canopy over the roof deck to meet some of the building’s energy demands. The five-story building would be roughly the same height as other buildings near it, though the solar panel canopy would tower a bit higher.
“We’re trying to push construction as we know it in Boston today to something that treads more lightly on the environment,” said Suzanne DiMeco.
She also said that there would be education and training for new tenants, and a promissory to be signed for any resident of the building to promise to maintain the clean air and to use only natural products.
“We’re hoping the building will be something the community is proud of, and also an educational opportunity,” Suzanne DiMeco said.
The developers filed their project with BPDA on March 27, and the comment period concluded on April 26. For more information on the project, visit bit.ly/2peg3PJ.