Update on Laneway development

August 3, 2018
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The developers for The Laneway at 9-11 Burney St. project, which has drawn a mixed reaction from the community, are continuing to review feedback from recent pop-up workshops, while a vote at the Boston Planning and Development Agency board was not slated at the Gazette deadline.

The developers—Mitch Wilson and Russell Preston—are proposing to demolish an existing three-family structure at 11 Burney St. and construct a 27,629-square-foot, four-story building with a recessed fifth floor. The project includes 25 rental units, of which three will be designated as income restricted, with five parking spaces. The project also proposes 1,900 square feet of ground floor restaurant space and a 2,853-square-foot laneway as a public open space for recreational activities, outdoor restaurant seating, and as a pathway through the site.

The local community has had conflicted responses to this development. Much of the opposition are residents who live close to the project and who are mainly concerned about height, density, and traffic. Those in support include the local business community and other residents excited about the creation of new retail space and the no-student policy of the developers.

The developers held pop-up events in addition to BPDA public meetings. According to Preston, there were over 37 people that attended and participated in the 10 hours of pop-up events.

“We had the opportunity to have a number of in-depth discussions with individuals about the Laneway that otherwise would not have been possible during a two-hour Boston Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) community meeting,” Preston said. “Overall, we heard from folks that they are pleased with the redesign of the project and that it addresses many of the concerns that were heard from the community.”

Preston said that based on public feedback, the project was reduced from 31 to 25 units and lost a floor and a half of development, which is not an update since the Gazette reported on the development on July 6.

“The majority of people who we heard from are happy with the revised plans for the project,” Preston said. “As with any project, there will always be folks who will remain concerned about development. We are continuing to work with these neighbors and meet with them to discuss their concerns.”

Chad Rosner, president of Community Alliance of Mission Hill (CAMH), said that he personally supported the project because he said it would add an interesting community space to the neighborhood and encourage business growth, as well as the nearby 111 Terrace St. project.

“I think they would provide much needed housing and would improve the areas of Mission Hill they are located in,” Rosner said.

Rosner did have concerns about both projects.

“Both projects are rather large and depending on how much they charge for rent might continue the upward trend of rents in the neighborhood,” Rosner said.

Rosner thinks he has similar views as his neighbors who have also attended meetings on the projects, except for concerns about traffic since he does not own a car.

As for next steps for the project, the developers will be working with BPDA based on the community input and revised design. A recent statement from Bonnie McGilpin, communications director at the BPDA, is that “the developer is currently assessing the feedback received during [the pop-up] process.” There are no meetings or BPDA votes set yet.