Developer revises plan for James’s Gate parking lot; reveals proposal for James’s Gate site

The developer for the project at the former James’s Gate parking lot at 14-16 McBride St. has updated his proposal to include two, three-story townhouses. He has also revealed his plans to build a five-story, mixed-used development at the James’s Gate site.

Meanwhile, a cooperative group has formed to attempt to have a community-led bar at the James’s Gate site.

James’s Gate, a local favorite Irish bar that closed last year, and the parking lot across the street were purchased by developer Stephen Ballas this spring for $1.95 million.

Ballas originally planned a six-unit building for the parking lot site, but that plan drew criticism during a June Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council Zoning Committee meeting. He presented a revised proposal during a recent Zoning Committee meeting that split the building into two, three-story townhouses with parking in between the two buildings and in garage in the first floors.

David Baron, chair of the Zoning Committee, said in an email that the meeting was “very well-attended by the community” and that no vote was taken on the project.

“The developer got some positive feedback for reducing the size, height, and number of units at 14-16 McBride St., but there was also some concern that the entire first floor of the building is now a parking area,” said Baron. “Neighbors actually agreed that the need to have some living space and integration with the street at ground level was worth a bit less parking (the developer was proposing more parking than the Zoning Code requires).”

John Moran, a lawyer for the development team, said that the redesign was “better received than the prior proposal” and that the Zoning Committee members “reached a consensus and the chair indicated that if habitable space at the front street level was introduced into the design that the committee would vote in a favorable manner.”

The development team is expected to have updated plans for 14-16 McBride St. at the Zoning Committee’s Aug. 24 meeting.

Baron said that there was a “great deal of concern” for the development team’s proposal for the James’s Gate site at 5 McBride St. He said concerns included the height of the building, that the size of the commercial space was too small for a restaurant, and the proposed building is too modern looking compared to what is on Centre and South streets.

“The developer was proposing two affordable units out of 11 for the 5 McBride St. space, but at 100 percent of the area median income, which some residents felt was much too expensive for the units to be actually affordable,” said Baron.

Moran agreed that those issues were raised and said that Jullieanne Doherty, liaison for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, will be scheduling a community meeting on the proposal.

Meanwhile, a group called the James’s Gate Cooperative wants to open a community-owned bar at the James’s Gate site. On the group’s website, it says, “The motivation is not just about a bar, but rather the formation of a cooperatively owned and managed establishment that strives to uphold values of democracy, equality, self-responsibility, solidarity, and the formation of a sense of pride and place in one’s community. A bar, and more specifically a community-owned cooperative bar, is simply an ideal vehicle for doing so.”

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Moran did not comment on the group’s effort.




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