Neighbors OK with Maple Hurst’s second pass

January 25, 2008
By

DAVID TABER

BROOKSIDE—Maple Hurst Builders’ latest plan for a mixed-use development on an 11,000-square-foot property on Green Street between Amory Street and Brookside Avenue received a warm welcome at a second developer-hosted community meeting Jan. 16.

In response to community recommendations expressed in the first meeting in September, the parking situation around the building has been significantly altered. Maple Hurst has also committed to including a heat-saving green roof in its design.

The new site plan calls for three ground-floor retail units and 12 residential units in three upper floors. A smaller fourth story will house an additional unit as well as a second story for two duplex residential units. All of the residential units will be owner-occupied.

Susan Harter, president of the Brookside Neighborhood Association, said she is especially pleased with the inclusion of retail space in the plan. “I think it will reduce crime and increase the vibrancy of the corner. I can’t understand why Green Street is not like Centre Street. I think it could be, and this will help with that,” she said.

The original plans called for residential parking behind the building, with entrance and egress onto Brookside Avenue.

The new plans call for placing 10 of the 13 residential parking spaces underneath the building in the rear. The extra spaces created by moving those spots inside will allow space for the parking lot’s driveway to cut through to Amory Street.

“We probably won’t be able to fit SUVs,” said Maple Hurst head Chris DeSisto.

On the Green Street side of the building, Maple Hurst moved the building about 5 feet back and rerouted the sidewalk across its property, creating space for five on-street parking spaces. The spaces will be targeted for the retail during the day and be available for the community in the evening, DeSisto said.

“I really like what you have done. Moving the building back makes a lot of sense,” said Bill Reyelt of Kenton Road.

At the first meeting, DeSisto said he hoped to lease a nearby off-street parking lot to relieve some of the parking pressure on the site.

Since the September meeting, negotiations for additional space for parking with another developer who is planning a residential development at the Obin Electric Company site on Amory Street fell apart, DeSisto said.

The Gazette was unable to contact Ray Obin of Obin Electric or Robert Fox of Watertown-based Fox Development, who Kristen Hunter of Maple Hurst said are planning the Amory Street development.

Also in response to recommendations at the last meeting, Maple Hurst plans to install a heat retaining green roof ontop of the building. The developers plan to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, but are not yet sure what rating they will pursue, Hunter said.

LEED is a national standard for eco-friendly building that takes various factors into account, including proximity to public transportation, what building materials are used and how energy efficient a building is. New construction can be rated certified, silver, gold or platinum.

Hunter also announced at the meeting that the Inspectional Services Department has approved Maple Hurst’s bid to change the address of the parcel from 131-135 Brookside Ave. to 154-160 Green St.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) was originally slated to redevelop the formerly MBTA-owned property, but backed out in 2005. Representatives from the JPNDC at the time cited the MBTA’s refusal to pay for soil testing as the reason the deal fell apart.

In September of last year, a BRA spokesperson told the Gazette, “The JPNDC couldn’t do the plan because of the size of the project and an affordability component that the community deemed too high.”

Maple Hurst is proposing to build 13 residential units where the JPNDC planned to build 20. They do not know how many of those units will be designated as affordable, DeSisto said.

Soil testing turned up no hazards, he said.

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