JPA hears revised proposal for four story, mixed-use building at 632-638 Centre St.

The Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) met virtually on January 4, where members heard an updated proposal for the development at 632-638 Centre St.

The project originally came before the JPA in June 2018, after which the group opposed it, but updates have been made to the project since then and JPA Chair Rosemary Jones thought it would be helpful for folks to learn about the proposed changes, which were made as a result of community feedback from various neighborhood organizations and committees and Councilor Matt O’Malley. 

The project was also recently before the Housing and Development Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, which made further suggestions for changes to the project. 

The currently proposed project is a four story building with 18 residential units and four commercial units. The original proposal was an as of right three story building, according to Nancy Lo, who presented on behalf of the developer. Of the 18 units, six are two bedroom units at an estimated market rate of $2,500-$2,900 per month, 12 are one bedroom units at an estimated market rate of $2,000-$2,500 a month. Four of those units will be affordable as part of the City’s Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP). One bedroom would be about $1,220 a month at 65 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), and a two bedroom would be about $1,369 a month at 65% AMI, according to the presentation. 

She said the four story proposal is currently under small project review at the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). “We still need to go to the Board of Appeal because it exceeds the Floor Area Ratio requirements for that area,” Lo said, because of the additional story proposed.

The building is proposed to be constructed with steel, glass, and brick, and will feature an elevator, 18 interior bike spaces, 18 exterior bike spaces, solar panels on the roof, seven outdoor parking spaces, a turnaround area in the rear for cars to turn around outside, and an electric vehicle charging station, according to the presentation. 

The project no longer includes a roof deck, and now includes four affordable units instead of two, as well as an interior trash room with private trash removal, among other changes. Additionally, bump outs are now part of the building design, windows will be made larger, and a few other facade changes have been made. 

Rosemary Jones said that “this is a detailed informational presentation with an opportunity for people to make comments…and weigh in in some way.” 

JPA member Franklyn Salimbene said that the JPA originally opposed this project because of the height increase, and wondered if the JPA should provide a second comment letter based on these updates. 

JPA member Kevin Moloney outlined several issues he had with the proposal, particularly the issues with sunlight that the fourth story would create for existing buildings in the area. 

JPA member David Moir said he agreed with Moloney, adding that “aesthetically, it’s a perfectly reasonable looking building,” but he had issues with the height. He said that in the proposed area there is a “two and a half, maybe three story look and feel to the streetscape and they want to go up to four [stories].” 

A motion was made to write a letter “reiterating” the JPA’s opposition to this project. Moloney said the letter should be sent to the BPDA and the Zoning Board of Appeal “in substance saying we’ve reviewed this revised proposed project, but we are still in support of our original position set forth in our 2018 letter.” He said it “seems to affect adversely more residents by increasing the shadow effect on their properties.” Moir also said the letter should include that the JPA does not believe “this preserves the look and feel of JP.” 

The JPA voted to approve the motion.

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