Apartment project awaits BRA decision

June 8, 2012
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S. HUNTINGTON—A project for 190-200 luxury apartments at 161 S. Huntington Ave. is waiting for the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s (BRA) decision on whether it will be built.

The project’s developers could choose to revise the project and hold more community meetings, or they could push ahead with the current design. If that is the case, the BRA decision would follow community opposition, including a letter criticizing the project signed by 11 of 13 city-appointed Impact Advisory Group (IAG) members, and a 90-day demolition delay imposed by the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC).

“I think that it’s likely that the BRA will conclude that there are some fundamental issues with this project and that they must make substantial revisions,” said IAG member Kevin Moloney. “That’s what the folks on the IAG would want.”

The BRA board of directors has not scheduled a vote on the project, BRA spokesperson Melina Schuler told the Gazette, explaining that community comments are still being reviewed. No further IAG or community meetings are currently scheduled.

The project, proposed by Boston Residential Group, would demolish all the buildings on the property currently occupied by the Home for Little Wanderers to make room for 190 to 200 luxury rental apartments.

“The development team has participated in numerous community meetings and is having meetings with BRA officials in accordance with the City’s process,” said Janey Bishoff, spokesperson for Boston Residential Group. “The developer looks forward to getting back to community representatives at the appropriate time.”

Among the complaints listed in the letter are the small size of the proposed units, precluding families from living in the building; its “ugly” facade; the number of units; expected low percentage of affordable units; the proposed removal of 53 mature trees; failure to restore or adapt the historic 1914 building; and hidden identities of investors in the project.

The BLC called for a 90-day delay and asked the developer to look at alternatives that would preserve the 1914 building.

While most of the buildings on the site are not subject to BLC oversight, the 1914 building is, due to its age. The BLC encouraged the developer to work with the community for a compromise. The 90-day delay expires Aug. 7.

The Home for Little Wanderers is moving out of its three-building complex at 161 S. Huntington Ave. this year.

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