Members of the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) are expressing concerns over a proposed 32-unit building at 76 Stonley Road, citing its height and other issues.
The SNA members are also apprehensive over the potential for the developers of 76 Stonley Road to build another project across the street at a property they own.
Meanwhile, the developers are saying that they are “excited” to bring “a new building and life” to a forgotten area, and that neighborhood approval is part of the design and planning process. They also said they will have their architect team look at the property they own across from 76 Stonley Road.
The developers, John Morrissey and Bryan Austin, have not formally filed the 76 Stonley Road project with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), but have been meeting with the community and BRA to discuss their proposal.
The proposal is currently for a 32-unit building that would have 7 one-bedroom, 23 two-bedroom, and 2 three-bedroom units. The proposal calls for 18 percent of the units to be affordable.
It would be a five-story building on top of a parking garage that would be partially built underground. That garage, which would have 22 parking spaces, would make the building more like a five-and-a-half-story structure, though the height would change as it would be built on a slope. The developers will need several variances, as the property currently is zoned for industrial use.
The Gazette spoke separately on the phone with SNA members Frederick Vetterlein and Jennifer Uhrhane, who both took issue with the project’s height and lack of connectivity with the neighborhood. The two also said they would like to see a master plan be done for that area, as the developer have also recently purchased land on Stedman Street, across from 76 Stonley Road.
Uhrhane said she wants the project to be on an appropriate scale. She said that SNA didn’t have a problem with the massive mixed-use project at the former Flanagan & Seaton Motor Car Company site, but that was on Washington Street. She said that the area near Stonley Road is mostly triple deckers.
Vetterlein said he would like to see the project reduced to a four-story building, similar to the Bartlett Square building at 154-160 Green Street. Besides the height, Vetterlein also took issue with how the proposal fits in with the neighborhood, noting that the pedestrian entrance currently faces the Arborway Yard.
“It has no connection with the community,” he said.
Uhrhane expressed concerns over the streetscape and landscape, saying that the building would take up a majority of the property and that people who would reside there need a place to walk and get around.
She also said she would like to see the developer add additional three-bedroom units, which are more family-friendly, and to increase the affordability to be closer to the 25 percent that the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council advocates for. The City affordable-housing policy requires 15 percent.
Both talked about the need for the 76 Stonley Road project and a potential project across the street be discussed at the same time instead of piecemeal. They said SNA has been inundated with construction project meetings, including the BRA’s Columbus Avenue/Washington Street corridor study process. They urged the BRA to come out to the neighborhood for a walk and discussion.
The Gazette contacted the developers for comment and Austin responded with a statement in an email.
“We are excited about bringing a new building and life to a long forgotten area of Jamaica Plain,” the statement said. “Like all the many different areas of JP, it has its own character. This light industrial zoned area is home to an oil service and storage depot, a construction equipment storage yard, and various small mechanical support businesses, including automotive, kitchen cabinet, motorcycle repair, and the like.
“Because it is close to a vibrant neighborhood represented by the SNA, as well as proximity to the Forest Hills transit hub, we anticipate it being a successful bridge between this light industrial area in which it resides and the neighborhood of late Victorian three-family homes.”
The statement goes on to say that the team “understands” the risk of bringing housing to an area “that is void of housing,” that clean-up at the site will be extensive, and that neighborhood approval is part of the design and planning process. It also says they are committed to affordable housing.
“We have asked our architecture design team to look at not only our site on Stonley Road, but at the new site on Stedman Road. Because this is also within the light industrial envelope, we anticipate it continuing the theme of bridging spaces,” the statement said.
BRA spokesperson Nick Martin said in an email that the authority “understands” concerns from the community and that the BRA has met with the developers for a pre-file meeting.
“We’re still very much learning about their intent for the properties they own and we do not yet have a formal proposal to review,” he said.
In terms of a master study being conducted for that area, Martin said, “It’s important to note that the project borders the study area for our ongoing Plan JP/Rox Washington Street/Columbus Avenue corridor study. We’ve been very forthright with the community since the beginning of the planning process that we can’t put a moratorium on development while the study is conducted. However, the planning insights that we’ve gained thus far, and will continue to gain, will inform every step of the Article 80 review process when it begins in earnest for the Stonley Road proposal.”