Egleston Sq. block plan gets 1st local input

August 1, 2014
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EGLESTON SQ.—A mixed-use building up to 82 feet high, with 76 housing units, is the early plan for redeveloping a Washington Street block, developers said at a July 23 Egleston Square Neighborhood Association (ESNA) meeting.

Affordability was a big community concern expressed at the meeting, which drew about 50 people.

Developers Dan Mangiacotti and Paul Iantosca are looking to redevelop the 3190-3204 block of Washington Street between Montebello and Iffley roads into retail and housing with some sustainability and energy conservation components.

Iantosca lives in JP and is the owner of The Arborview Companies on Centre Street. His company is also recently created luxury condos on Danforth Street.

The developers are under agreement to buy the large brick building that is the former home of Economy Plumbing & Heating Supply Company, and the neighboring E&J Auto Tech, which is in business.

“We want to come to the community and work with the community,” attorney Joe Hanley of McDermott, Quilty & Miller said at the meeting.

Nothing has yet been filed with the City.

According to project architect Kevin Diebler, the roughly 38,000 square feet under consideration for the project—which includes 52 Montebello Road and the vacant lot between that house and the neighboring E&J Auto Tech garage at 3204 Washington St., as well as garages at 11 Iffley Road—would house three buildings that would “scale back” into the residential streets around it.

The developers are proposing a six- to seven- story height on Washington Street—between 71 and 82 feet tall. They said at the meeting that the buildings would be lower at ground level than triple-decker houses on Iffley Street and Montebello Road, due to the incline, as well as significantly shorter than the Extra Space Storage facility directly across the street, which is 104 feet tall.

The housing component is currently proposed to include 13 studios, 15 one-bedrooms, 37 two-bedrooms and 11 three-bedrooms. Seventy-two of the 76 units would be rentals.

“We want to provide a housing package that works for the community,” Hanley said. He added that he is expecting an Article 80 process through the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), which would create a community Impact Advisory Group (IAG) for further community input later in planning.

City Councilor Matt O’Malley said he liked the inclusion of units large enough for families.

The developers said they are already consulting complete streets guidelines for pedestrian, bicycle and planting accommodations. They are planning for sidewalks “as wide as possible,” spreading to 16 feet in places.

As for the business spaces, the developers are suggesting a 3,000-square-foot neighborhood restaurant and a hardware store.

The developers also stated their intended focus on creating a transit-oriented development, noting the location’s proximity to MBTA stations, bus lines, and Zipcar and Hubway locations.

“It’s a place where we can really attract people who don’t want to live with a car,” Diebler said.

The developers said at the meeting that the project would require rezoning: the majority of the area under consideration is currently zoned as “light industrial.”

“We’re not entitled to anything. That’s why we’re here,” Hanley said.

Tim Reardon, head of ESNA’s Economic Development Committee, told the developers that making the project “deeply affordable” would be “fundamental.”

According to a presentation Reardon made just before the developers took the floor, “deeply affordable” means affordable to those who make under 50 percent of the area’s average median income (AMI), or under about $64,000 a year. Affordable housing is considered to cost no more than 40 percent of a household’s income.

Other attendees expressed concerns about traffic and shadow impacts. The developers said those would be studied as part of any formal plan.

While 52 Montebello and the adjoining undeveloped parcel would not be owned by the developers, they said they would be willing to work with the City to improve both those properties as part of the larger project.

The property at 52 Montebello Road has been vacant for several years and drawn complaints for illicit parties and squatters. It has been on JP’s Problem Properties Committee list since mid-2012, when the City’s Inspectional Services Department boarded it up. The 6-unit apartment building is in the process of being taken over by the City, which plans to turn it into affordable housing.

CORRECTION: Due to a reporter error, in a previous version of this article, Mangiacotti’s name was misspelled.