The City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved several variances for the Art Park project last month, according to a document provided to the Gazette by Inspectional Services Department (ISD) spokesperson Lisa Timberlake. ISD oversees the ZBA.
The variances include for lot area for additional dwelling units insufficient, off-street parking insufficient, and multi-family dwelling forbidden.
The approval removes one of the last remaining hurdles for the project. In June, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board during its meeting approved the revised Art Park project. A version of project was approved by the then Boston Redevelopment Authority and the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in 2014, but was held up by a since-settled lawsuit. That has led to the notice of project change (NPC) because the project needs to be denser to pay for the litigation and other unexpected issues, according to the developer. The project had significant community support in 2014, and still does today.
SMS submitted its NPC on April 6. The project has not changed much from the original review process to now. It was then, and still is: LEED Platinum, around 50,000 square feet of green space, no massing on Parker Street, does not have parking or a curb cut on Parker Street, contains a Parker to Terrace pedestrian way, and will include art and gardening programming. The major difference is in number of units: the project went from 44 units to 60 units. The units have become slightly smaller, since according to Mariscal they were slightly oversized before, and will be mostly one-bedrooms. More units overall means that there will also be two more affordable units, bringing the total of affordable units up to 12. Three parking spaces were also added since the most recent public meeting, bringing the total up to 33. There will still be parking for 82 bikes.
The building will contain one-bedrooms at 600 to 700 square feet, two-bedrooms at 800 to 900 square feet, and three-bedrooms at 1,250 square feet. Each unit will include a private 100-square-foot outdoor patio as well.
The existing site has a 35-foot change in grade, so the bottom of the site on Terrace Street will have commercial space and the entrance for parking, and the roof on Parker Street will be about the same height as the street, so it will be experienced as a park, and not a building from that side. Cars will be hidden from view as they will be between a retaining wall and behind the building on Terrace. The developers also have committed to not renting any units to undergraduate students, to the satisfaction of many community members.