Burney Street project update

September 7, 2018
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The developers of the Burney Street project are still working with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) on next steps for the project based on community input on a revised design.

Russ Preston, a developer of the project, said that the proposal now includes a parking space and a redesign of some of the ground floor spaces to accommodate community concerns about the retail space, but that they will not be making any additional changes to the new building at this time.

“Overall, we heard from folks that they are pleased with the redesign of the project and that the redesign addresses many of the concerns that were heard from the community,” Preston said.

Based on public feedback, the project was previously reduced from 31 to 25 units to address concerns about density. The revised design also reduced the building by a floor and a half to address some concerns about the building’s height.

“The majority of people who we heard from are happy with the revised plans for the project,” Preston said.

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 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 were mainly concerned about height, density, and traffic. Those in support have included the local business community and other residents excited about the creation of new retail space and the no-student policy of the developers.

Dan Vlahos, a resident who is in favor of the project said, “I am hearing that many of those who were originally opposed are finally warming up to it. But let’s face it. For some, any change, no matter how beneficial is going to be met with opposition. We all know change is not easy. When you’ve seen the same view out of the window of your home for most of your life, and now someone you do not know is proposing to change that view, it’s very hard and very emotional. It takes time to really take it in and come to terms with it. That said, although this has been a long process I’m so proud to live in a neighborhood that is so open and thoughtful about these decisions.

“Also, the developer graciously donated a temporary pop up ‘art space’ around the corner at 1520 Tremont St. and it’s been very well received. It just shows that little gestures can make a big difference. The art space is also helping to break down the barriers as it’s getting a nice mix of people from across Mission Hill together.”

Vlahos went on to say that the revised proposal is more in scale with surrounding buildings and the proposed project would replace “a dirty, dark, dangerous parking lot.”

The CAMH still officially supports the 9 Burney St. project though the vote was very close, according to Chad Rosner, president of the Community Alliance of Mission Hill.

Following the May BPDA community meeting, the development team for 9 Burney St. decided to hold a series of pop-up project studios to further engage with the community on the proposed project. The developer is currently assessing the feedback received during that process.  The developer also created a website for the community to learn more about the project, here:  lanewaymissionhill.com.

Peter Shanley contributed to this article.