Residents oppose revised 45 Worthington St. plan

A recently revised proposal for a residential building at 45 Worthington St. was strongly opposed by residents at a public meeting due to height, building character, and affordability.

The project was previously filed in a letter of intent to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (now Boston Planning and Development Agency) for a public review process in 2014. Equity Residential hosted a community meeting on July 12 prior to filing their revised proposal with the BPDA. About 40 residents attended.

“We have been working to bring a proposal to the community for a building not as tall or intrusive as the previous version based on feedback from the last impact advisory group meeting,” said Paul Barrett of Equity Residential.

The plans have changed from 35 floors to 23 floors, from 395 units to 267 units, and from 270 parking spaces to 202 parking spaces. These parking spaces include 65 spaces for the existing City View residential property, which the current parking lot services. Parking spaces will also include an undetermined amount of ZipCar spaces and some equipped to charge electric vehicles.

Residents chastised the proposal for drastically exceeding zoning in height and scale, and asked what the community benefits would be to justify expected variances. The developers said that the park above the parking garage would be open to the public, and would be a community benefit.

Residents said that the park doesn’t mitigate what would be lost if the building is built as currently proposed. Luanne Witkowski emphasized the historical nature of the neighborhood.

“This is a historic district that we have struggled long and hard to preserve, and this proposal doesn’t match the neighborhood,” Witkowski said. “It’s an important district to the city of Boston. Brownstones and streets like Worthington and Wigglesworth are our identity. I don’t see how this fits. Consider how this must feel for us.”

One resident said, “We’re back at the same problem [as in 2014], but now it’s not a monster, it’s a half-monster. It shouldn’t be built. Why would you think that anyone here would be interested in helping you do this?”

Mitch Hilton, a resident at Iroquois Street, said that he was at the meeting opposing the proposal in order to support his neighbors on Worthington and Wigglesworth.

“If our quality of life is threatened, I will fight it,” Hilton said.

Another resident staunchly opposed to the proposal said that he was “as much against this building as the monstrosity the mayor wants to build downtown. [Walsh] is trying to turn the city of Boston into New York. I hate New York.”

Mike Bennett of Equity Residential said that the revised project is now “feasible” and “tries to address the character of the surrounding three-story townhomes.”

The front entrance to the building was previously proposed to be directly on Worthington Street, but has been changed to a side alley, designed to force pick-up and drop-off traffic to exit onto St. Alphonsus Street.

Today, the property is a lot with exposed parking. The proposal seeks to build a parking garage, which will make the parking spaces hidden from view. Bennett also said that shadows of the building were designed to have more of an impact on institutional buildings and Huntington Avenue, with less impact on surrounding residential buildings.

The proposal also includes plans for an oval-shaped central lawn above the parking garage with tall plantings around the edges.

Michael Santos, the developers’ traffic and transportation consultant, said that the proposed building would add 52 vehicular trips in a peak morning hour and 64 trips in the evening rush hour.

“Most people that live in the area rely on public transit, and we expect that most residents won’t be commuting by vehicle,” Santos said.

Santos also said that the developers would work with the City of Boston to ensure that residents at 45 Worthington St. will not be able to obtain resident permit parking, a proposal that some residents, including abutter Cindy Walling, doubted the legality and practicality of.

The developers reiterated that the standard lease for 45 Worthington St. would have a statement blocking residents from obtaining city resident parking permits, and committed to working with the City on enforcement.

Units will range from studios to two-bedrooms, with 500-square-foot studios renting for $1,800 at market rate and 700 square-foot one-bedrooms renting for about $2,300 a month at market rate.

Developers were asked if they would be renting units to undergraduate students, to which they said they are considering them but had not prepared a formal policy regarding it.

Developers said that they will review the community’s comments again and “go back to the drawing board.”

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