By Michael Coughlin Jr.
At a public meeting hosted by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) on October 23, the plans for Phase 3 of the Parcel 25 project located on Tremont and Station Streets were revealed.
This public meeting comes off the heels of the project’s proponent, Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services, filing a notice of project change back in September.
Initially, there was approval for the third phase of this project, which would have brought a 10-story 161,500 gross square foot office building and 185 below-grade parking spots to the site.
However, Nicholas Zozula, Senior Associate at McDermott, Quilty & Miller LLP, the project’s Permitting Attorney, explained that there have been some changes and why those changes were made.
Now, the third phase of the Parcel 25 project is proposing to construct a six-story building with 33 above-grade parking spaces and would include 94 units of 100% affordable rental housing.
“Despite years of pursuit, you know, obviously, a lot has changed in the past several years, never mind the past decade. This institutional office space that was kind of seen as an economic engine for the overall project at the outset did not really materialize, became less necessary, and as we all know, housing is even more important than it was even when this was first instituted,” said Zozula.
Zozula cited several aspects, such as the cost of construction, existing site conditions, lower demand for office space, and the need for more housing, causing the change in plans.
The updated Phase 3 plan, which, as mentioned, offers 94 units of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program rental housing, includes 24 one-bedrooms, 55 two-bedrooms, and 15 three-bedrooms.
Regarding affordability, 10 units — five two-bedrooms and five three-bedrooms — will be offered for extremely low-income (ELI), homeless, or formerly homeless at or below 30% of area median income (AMI).
Moreover, another nine units — six one-bedrooms and three three-bedrooms — will be at or below 30% AMI as well.
10 units — three one-bedrooms, four two-bedrooms, and three three-bedrooms — will be offered at or below 50% AMI.
The remaining units will be offered at or below 60% and 70% AMI. 42 units will be offered at or below 60% AMI while 23 units will be offered at or below 70% AMI, with each category having a mixture of one, two, and three-bedroom units.
Regarding accessibility, 15 units will be group two, and 79 will be group one. Further, common areas and entrances will be ADA and CBH-compliant.
Additionally, Nick Buehrens, an Associate Principal at Utile, the project’s architect, went over some of the other aspects of the project, such as site and landscaping plans.
For example, the site will have 94 interior bike spaces, and there are conversations about potentially adding blue bike locations on the property.
In terms of vehicular access, there are conversations about having a pick-up/drop-off area on Tremont Street, and the garage entrance and trash pickup would be off Station Street.
He also talked about landscape opportunities, such as improving pedestrian pathways through the site and more.
The project also has sustainability aspects, which include targeting passive house certification. “We’ll have a very robust building envelope design, so very highly insulated, air-tight, very efficient building systems, and that will also provide great levels of climate resilience… and improve the long-term durability and operational costs,” said Buehrens.
When it came time for discussion, there were some comments about wanting more bike parking, more open space, and less vehicular parking; the sentiment among those at the meeting seemed to be positive.
“I just want to state my strong support for this. NHS is the only developer in Mission Hill that supports affordable housing,” said one resident.
“I think the amount of affordable housing that this is offering is pretty incredible,” said another resident.
This same resident supported the project so much that she requested it be fast-tracked to completion.
“Developers who build crap that we do not want in our neighborhoods seem to be able to do so with a pretty hefty amount of speed, whereas projects that the community wants to see that is really answering a neighborhood need — a citywide need — just really get dragged along in a really slog like fashion.”
Later, another resident seemed to agree and said, “The city needs this, the neighborhood needs it, let’s move it along.”
As for the next steps, the comment period for the project is open until November 6th. If you want to leave your comments, view the plans, or view the meeting recording, you can visit https://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/parcel-25.