Plans to redevelop an industrial property at 3593-3615 Washington St. into 280 units of housing, called “The Commons at Forest Hills Station,” were filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) late last month.
Meanwhile, the BRA’s Back Streets program, aimed at retaining and growing the city’s industrial and commercial businesses and preserving its job base, is working with the site’s two tenants to find them new homes after their expected September eviction, according to BRA spokesperson Melina Schuler.
One of the tenants, Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) CEO Bruce Marks, has previously told the Gazette that he plans to fight the eviction. Dennis Albert, owner of tenant Forest Hills Electrical Supply, Inc., previously told the Gazette he does not plan to fight his eviction.
The proposed housing project would erect 243 market-rate studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and townhouses and retail space along with open space on the property, according to the filing. Another 37 units would be affordably priced. The development team had previously said that there would be 285 units of housing. The developers are planning on 0.6 parking spaces per unit, or 168 spaces, due to the development’s proximity to the Forest Hills MBTA station.
The lot currently includes several industrial buildings, some of which are occupied by NACA, a national nonprofit community advocacy and homeownership organization that has been profiled by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and Forest Hills Electrical Supply, Inc., a construction supply company. They both received letters informing them that their lease would end this September.
“We’re putting a plan together. [The Back Streets program] want us to look at other options, other places [to move to],” Marks told the Gazette last week. “At this point, that’s what they want to do. Don’t forget, it’s the BRA. They’re trying to push this massive development…onto the community.”
“We encourage members of the community to get involved in the project review process, and share their comments on the proposed development,” Schuler told the Gazette in response. A community meeting is being scheduled, she added, and public comments on the project will be accepted until Sept. 9.
For 100 years the approximately 3-acre site was used as a petroleum product distribution depot for former owner Hughes Oil. The giant above-ground oil tanks were removed a few years ago and an extensive environmental cleanup is nearing completion, including the removal of 30,000 tons of contaminated soil, according to a press release distributed by the development team.
“I’m not sure why over 800 people would want to rent high-price units” on such a site, Marks said.
“The Commons at Forest Hills Station will be a beautiful and vibrant place to live with shops and amenities. It will be truly transformative, giving the neighborhood a more human feel, with increased pedestrian activity that will create its own sense of place and serve as a catalyst for future investment in this section of Forest Hills,” Connie Kastelnik, project spokesperson, said in that press release.
The property is located across the street from the former Flanagan & Seaton Motor Car Company location, which is also under consideration for mixed-use development, and the MBTA Arborway bus yard. The owners of the former Hughes Oil property, Arborway Corp., have failed to return numerous Gazette phone calls. The purchase from the current owner has not yet been finalized.
The property is currently zoned as a local industrial subdistrict, meaning that the project will need rezoning to demolish the current buildings and build the proposed mixed-use buildings.
Developers Braintree-based John M. Corcoran and Company and Boston-based The Brennan Group made no mention of the need to evict longtime tenants to demolish the existing buildings at a SNA meeting in June. NACA has been on the property for over 10 years and employs over 40 people. Forest Hills Electrical Supply has been on the site since 1995.