City to host meeting on changes to the long-awaited Art Park project

The City announced it will host a community meeting Feb. 7 to discuss changes to the long-awaited Art Park project.

The meeting will take place at the Mission Church parish center, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The project was approved in 2014 by the then Boston Redevelopment Authority and the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals after a two-year community process. But it had been held up as Mission Hill residents Kathryn Brookins and her husband Oscar filed a lawsuit against the Sebastian Mariscal Studios (SMS) and the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals over the variances for the proposal. A motion to dismiss that lawsuit was granted last year and the City and SMS have been working on the proposal since.

John Feuerbach of the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development said in an email blast that SMS at the meeting “will provide an update regarding the planned development and review next steps for moving forward. As Sebastian will present, there are many community supported features that remain in the development.”

According to Feuerbach, those include,

*  No visible housing on Parker Street. There will be a welcoming trellis/portico system and walkway along Parker Street;

*  New, improved, remediated (and increased size) community garden space on Parker Street;

*  Innovative, unique building and site plan footprint built into the hill with desired linkages from Parker to Terrace Streets;

*  A similar income mix for affordable, workforce, and market rate housing;

*  Provisions remain in place for no student housing;

*  Energy Positive, green building with many sustainable development features;

*  Arts Center – to reflect the historic use of the “Art Park” at the site;.

*  Zip car, bike storage, bike shop on premise.

It is unclear what exactly the changes will be, as the City did not provide an updated plan, and it is not known if the changes will need to be approved the Boston Planning and Development Agency board.

The City first began exploring redeveloping the Art Park site in 2012. The site is City-owned land between Parker and Terrace streets that formerly contained murals, mosaic footpath tiles and colorful furniture, and community gardens that were operated by local residents. Locals were initially against the City’s plan, but many were eventually won over during a two-year process with the community benefits the project would provide, including a community garden.

SMS’s plan that was approved in 2014 was 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 would have 30 parking spaces and 82 bike-parking spaces.

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

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