Categories: News

BPDA hosts 3458 Washington Street Public Meeting 

By Michael Coughlin Jr. 

Last week, several residents participated in a public meeting hosted by the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), which outlined the plans for a proposed development at 3458 Washington Street. 

Boston Pinnacle Properties LLC has proposed the project, which involves a five-story building with 37 units. 

“We’ve been building and managing safe, comfortable apartment housing in and around the Boston area for the better half of the last decade and a half,” said Adam Burns, Principal of Boston Pinnacle Properties LLC. 

While Burns indicated they do not have properties in Jamaica Plain currently, he said, “We’re very excited to be entering this market on Washington Street, being part of the PLAN: JP/Rox initiative for the area, and we’re very excited to bring these housing units to the neighborhood.”

Attorney George Morancy of Adams & Morancy, P.C., serving as legal counsel for the project, indicated that compliance with PLAN: JP/Rox was paramount. 

He also mentioned that compliance with current zoning was another crucial part of the proposal. 

“We are mostly in compliance even with existing zoning and, of course, fully in compliance with PLAN: JP/Rox,” said Morancy. 

As it relates to PLAN: JP/Rox, Morancy claimed that the project site is in density bonus area (DBA) 65 but would not approach the 65-foot height and stated he thought the building was 58 feet. 

Additionally, Morancy indicated plans for eight IDP (inclusionary development policy) units and seven parking spaces. 

Regarding parking, Morancy acknowledged it could be a point of contention but said, “It is compliant with the plan, and it is sort of in the spirit of transit-oriented development in light of the site’s proximity to public transit options.” 

In terms of the base zoning violations, variances are being sought from the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) for excessive floor area ratio (FAR) and building height, as well as for insufficient off-street parking and off-street loading. 

After Morancy outlined aspects of the proposal, Philip Sima of Balance Architects reviewed the project plans, renderings, and more. 

First, Sima provided a detailed rendering of the proposed building and plans for the materials that will be used. Sima indicated that a dark brick masonry base will be used on the ground floor, which will have commercial space. 

On floors two through four, which will have the residential units, there are plans to have a red brick facade, and the fifth floor will have a material change and be stepped back. 

Other architectural aspects of the project to note are a designated drop-off area for services like DoorDash off of Washington Street, parking entry off of Kenton Road, and space for an at-grade transformer off of Kenton Road. 

In speaking about the transformer, Sima said, “It kind of just looks like manholes with pavers that integrate into it.” It should also be noted that the plans include a mechanical penthouse at the roof level. 

In terms of landscape architecture, plans include short-term bicycle spots, greenery, and more. Moreover, an eight-foot wall in the rear is planned to screen the parking area. 

After Sima wrapped up his overview of the plans, attendees proceeded to provide comments and ask questions for the remainder of the meeting. 

One attendee inquired about the amount of commercial space in the proposal, and Sima indicated it was about 800 square feet. 

Another attendee commented on the proposal and raised concerns about the traffic issues and the number of units slated to be built in the area. 

“People have a right to good lives, and we’re being inundated with housing in this part of JP,” they said. 

Multiple rear abutters also had questions and comments. For example, one abutter wanted to know about the placement of the transformer and potential landscaping in the rear. 

Sima indicated that the transformer is not within the eight-foot privacy wall but outside of it and flush with the sidewalk, but indicated that the team would be amenable to “making something that I think folks like.” 

Regarding the landscaping question, Sima indicated he did not want to speak for the landscape architect but suggested there could be an opportunity for limited vegetation in a small strip outside of the privacy wall. 

Burns also mentioned that he was willing to meet with the abutters to figure something out regarding rear landscaping. 

There was also a concern from an abutter about the mechanical penthouse’s height, to which Burns said, “I would be happy to go back with Phil [Sima] and the project team and see what we can do in terms of the scale of that upper penthouse area.” 

Another abutter had several questions for the project team. First, the abutter asked about the height of the building, including the mechanical penthouse. Sima guessed that the penthouse was 10 feet above the roof level. 

This same abutter disagreed with Morancy’s previous assessment that the project fully complies with PLAN: JP/Rox, claiming that the site is actually in the 55-foot DBA. 

The abutter also added that he thought the project did not comply with the plan because it did not minimize adverse impacts on the scale and character of existing two and three families, ensure a gradual transition between new and existing buildings, and more. They also requested the proposal to “cut back” in the rear. 

Morancy responded by saying he had to look up the DBA information. “I believe that I was correct. If that’s not the case, then certainly nobody at the BPDA noted that as well, but I will follow up with that,” said Morancy. 

He also said the team would consider the suggestion from the abutter. 

Later in the meeting, another attendee questioned the proposal’s compliance with PLAN: JP/Rox and claimed there were issues with the building’s step back at the upper level. 

In response to the concerns about compliance with the plan, Tyler Ross of the BPDA said, “A lot of people have questions about JP/Rox and the project’s compliance with that, so I’ll flag that for our planning staff and have them go through it and make sure that the project is in compliance.” 

The project’s process was also discussed. Ross indicated that the comment period for the proposal has been extended, and there are plans for the project team to meet with groups like the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) before the period closes. 

Before the public meeting ended, several other topics were discussed, such as affordability, the privacy wall, setbacks, and much more. 

For those interested in viewing a meeting recording or providing comments, visit https://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/3458-washington-street. 

The project’s comment period will end on May 21st, and the team will meet with the SNA on May 13th.

Gazette Staff:
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