SNA Hears Proposal for New Williams St. Condos

The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) met for their monthly meeting on February 10, where they heard a preliminary proposal for condominiums to be built on the vacant lots at 97-99 Williams St.

      Architect Elaine Scales presented the proposal, along with the Federico Brothers of Fed Corp., a Dedham based developer. The project consists of a total of eight condo units in a three story building with eight parking spaces and a garage.

      “Our project consists of two blocks connected by a common stair,” Scales said. “What we’re envisioning is to make a strong connection between the front yard of this development and the community garden across the way.”

      Additionally, she said that the existing front setback will be respected, and they are “nearly” complaint with zoning regulations on the side setback.

      “This building will have more of a base, a middle, and a top when compared with more traditional triple deckers in the city,” Scales said. She also said that they are “doing very well” with the open space zoning requirements, as they are required to have 2000 square feet of open space and the proposal currently calls for 2870 square feet without the driveway or any of the small prices on the front facade.

      Scales said that they will need variances for back yard setback, Floor Area Ratio, and the side yard setback. The developers said that they are allowed to build more than three units on a lot in an area zoned for a three family unit.

      She said the building is 32 feet high to the middle of the sloped roof, which is how they are measured, but she was unable to provide a total height at the meeting. However, she did say that zoning requirements do not allow a building to be more than 32 feet to the middle of the sloped roof.

      SNA member Jennifer Uhrhane brought to the team’s attention that she discovered there is a Williams Street Design Overlay District, which the team said they were unaware of but would look into.

      A direct abutter who lives at 97 Williams St. expressed his concern with the proposed driveway in the back of the property where residents would drive their cars to enter their units. The developers assured him that they would make sure his property is fenced in, and that the new neighbors would not have access to his property. He also wanted to make sure there was space for his dog in the yard, which the team also assured him of.

      The neighbor was also concerned about safety, as he said he has been robbed before, as have others who have lived in the building. Scales said that having more eyes next door in the new development will help with safety, since the lot is currently vacant.

      “Frankly, I feel like it’s a very large project to be out here,” said an abutter on the left side of the lot. “It will be an impact on our property.”

      Another neighbor said that nobody in this neighborhood considers this lot a vacant lot, as people congregate int he evenings to watch the sunset. “Access to the sky is super important,” the neighbor said, “especially in this three family neighborhood.”

      Uhrhane also expressed concern with the number of high end buildings being built in JP and the overall gentrification of the neighborhood. “I would love to see something that’s a bit more in keeping with the street and a bit more modest,” she said, adding that she does appreciate the green space. She said that since more and more people are coming to Boston without cars, the garage might not be necessary and the building could be pushed back even farther.

      SNA Steering Committee member Wyley Proctor said that she also likes the green space and that “they’re pretty close on the setbacks.” She also thinks that Scales is “at least trying to stay in line with what’s in the community. It’s more housing; it’s not ugly or monolithic. I like how these look. I love her designs,” she said.

      Others did not agree, saying they think the development “will radically change the neighborhood.” Uhrhane said she believes that Scales is capable of designing two triple deckers side by side in this location.

This presentation was purely informative for the SNA, and they created a subcommittee that will further discuss this proposal with the development team as it moves forward.

Subcommittee Updates

84 Stonley Rd.

      SNA Steering Committee member Jonathan McCurdy said that developers came to the SNA about a year ago with a proposal for the lot at 84 Stonley, which is home to Squid Hell Recording Studios and it was discussed that there should be a max of some creative space as part of the project. McCurdy said that they never heard back from the developer, but a few weeks ago letters were sent out to direct abutters and a meeting was held at Curtis Hall with the development team and the Mayor’s Office.

      “I was very disappointed that they didn’t bring plans with them,” he said. “All they had was a drawing and four sides of the elevations of the elevations of the building. I spent time on my Thursday evening to go over there for this and it was the same as before. I feel the developers were ill-prepared.”

      McCurdy said that this issue is going back to SNA subcommittee, and Jennifer Uhrhane said that “it’s a displacement issue as well as a development issue since creative people have been kicked out of the current building.”

10 Stonley Road

      AS previously reported by the Gazatte, Jennifer Uhrhane reported that the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Zoning Committee reviewed the proposal for 10 Stonley Rd. And denied it at their January 22 meeting. “It was disturbing to hear a number of Zoning Committee members excited about this, but in the end they voted against it which was good,” she said.

      “After that, we heard from the developers who let us know that they are not making any changes to the project because it would not be viable.”

      She added that the developers have agreed to meet with the SNA subcommittee again, and there is an upcoming meeting with City Councilor Matt O’Malley, a director of design review at the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), and Kevin Rainsford of the JPNC to “have a larger conversation” about  PLAN: JP/Rox as well as other projects that have “too many variances and not enough changes made before going to the ZBA.”

            The 10 Stonley Rd. Project is currently set to go before the Zoning Board of Appeal on March 10 at 10:30am.

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