IAG members review St. Alphonsus development proposal

At a recent Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) meeting, the Impact Advisory Group (IAG) for the proposed six-story 95 St. Alphonsus St. development generally agreed that the developers had made improvements from the previous proposal.

Developers from Wingate Companies presented their revisions to the IAG, which consists of Ellen Moore, David Welch, Katie Genovesse, Gary Walling, Richard Giordano, Chad Rosner, Patricia Flaherty, Mitch Hilton, and Richard Rouse. An IAG is a City-appointed group of residents and other stakeholders that advise the City on potential impacts of building projects.

A follow-up IAG meeting is slated for Sept. 6, after the Gazette deadline.

The proposed building is planned to be built behind Wingate’s residential building The Longwood at 1575 Tremont St. and would be called The Longwood II Residences. The 111,665-square-foot building will consist of 115 rental residential units. It will replace the existing 175 space parking structure with a new structured parking garage that will be shared between the units in the new building and the existing 147 units at 1575 Tremont St. The building will be built on top of the new parking garage. Thirteen percent (15 units) would be affordable, which is the minimum under the City’s affordable-housing policy.

The project’s materials and form are designed to mirror those of adjacent buildings. The developers have been working with Boston’s fire department and transportation department as part of their designs as well.

Previous IAG concerns with the proposal were regarding the traffic flow within the development and out Worthington Street. Some residents had been concerned that drivers tend to quickly go down the wrong way of the one-way Worthington Street. Changes have been made to discourage that behavior, such as changing the curb cuts and narrowing the exit from the development onto Worthington.

The IAG also had previous concerns about vehicles circulating around the previously proposed traffic rotary in the middle of the courtyard. Ralph Cole of Wingate Companies explained that the new concept of the courtyard is called “woonerf”, which is a Dutch concept meaning “living street” that blends sidewalk and pavement to one level and material.

“We are addressing concerns by creating a pedestrians first, traffic second concept,” Cole said. “We have to maintain some semblance of vehicular access to the courtyard, but the textures will remain the same throughout, and there will be no difference between sidewalk and pavement. This will be a case study for this type of courtyard; we’re designing for the future.”

Members of the IAG expressed confusion as to why traffic has to be allowed to enter the courtyard at all, since it had been identified in the meeting that a fire truck would not need access to that space due to the reach of their ladders. One IAG member thought that if cars were allowed to use the courtyard, it would create more traffic out Worthington Street. Cole said that the developers still wanted to give residents the option of getting picked up and dropped off within the courtyard, even though it would be encouraged to have pick up and drop offs at the front entrance on St. Alphonsus Street.

“I appreciate the effort to mitigate traffic but I think that residents will still prefer to get picked up in the courtyard, as opposed to St. Alphonsus,” said Mitch Hilton.

Another change made to address circulation and traffic in the development is that the new design has moved the front entrance. The developers have also reorganized the amenity space in the design so that it is oriented along St. Alphonsus street in order to capture more open space within the courtyard.

One idea mentioned by the residents was to ensure that residents would have access to different cable companies.

“You should allow RCN, Verizon, and Comcast all to service the new building, and don’t give any one company a 10-year exclusive,” said Dave Welch. “Competition works, and it will make the costs lower for residents.”

Overall, the IAG was not outraged by the proposal and expressed appreciation for the community outreach.

“You guys have come much further than most developers,” said Richard Giordano.

Tim Czerwienski, hosting the meeting on behalf of the BPDA, read letters of recommendation from BPDA and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. The recommendations from the BPDA were to allow for at least three electrical car charging stations, allow for electric signage for the MBTA to use for buses, provide a thrift-incentive to encourage residents to use the MBTA, and include at least five handicapped parking spaces. The Parks department wrote that the proposed building meets the City requirements for open space, but requests a financial contribution towards recreation in the neighborhood.

The developers hope to start construction in Spring 2018 with completion in Fall 2019.

For more information, visit bit.ly/2grDdz1.


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