Revised plans for 161 S. Huntington filed

August 3, 2012
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(Image from Boston Residential Group filing) An illustration of the new facade proposed at 161 S. Huntington Ave.

S. HUNTINGTON—Developers for the luxury apartment project proposed for 161 S. Huntington Ave. have filed an updated plan with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) in response to strong community feedback.

The updated plan includes a revised facade with a public pocket park facing S. Huntington Avenue, five new three-bedroom “family” units, reduced parking and an increase of affordably-priced units from 26 to 30.

“The developer looks forward to moving to the next stage of the public process and to creating housing that will become an asset to the local community for generations to come,” Janey Bishoff, spokesperson for developer Boston Residential Group, said.

The project would create 196 units consisting of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units in a four- to five-story building on the current site of the Home for Little Wanderers.

Among the complaints sent to the BRA in May and June were 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.

An Aug. 15 community meeting has been scheduled by the BRA to hear community comments on the proposed changes to the project. [See JP Agenda.]

The developers state in the document submitted to the BRA on July 16 that reusing the historic 1914 Knight building currently on the site “continues to be infeasible.” Three different plans to keep the 1914 building, either whole or in part, are outlined in the filing and all were deemed too expensive or impractical by the developer.

Surface parking was decreased to nine spaces from 16 and garage parking shrank to 147 spaces from 154.

The developer also states in the document that it is committed to protecting the mature red oak trees on the Jamaicaway side of the site throughout the construction process.

If the project is approved by the BRA board, construction would be expected to last 18 months, starting late this year. A vote has not yet been scheduled.

The area is currently zoned as a neighborhood institutional subdistrict, according to BRA maps. Whether this project will require zoning relief is still unclear.

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