SNA Hears Doyle’s Proposal; Opposes 97-99 Williams St.

The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) met virtually on January 11, where neighbors heard the most recent proposal for the Doyle’s development, as well as voted to oppose the development proposed for 97-99 Williams St.

Doyle’s

Developer Lee Goodman of Watermark Development and architect Elaine Scales presented an updated proposal for the Doyle’s project, which includes a revived version of Doyle’s with a rooftop deck, 29 total units of housing, and a food market.

Goodman explained that street trees were added to the proposal at the request of some SNA members, and Scales reiterated that this project will be a five story project that steps down to match the surrounding streets.

Phase one will include the renovation of the restaurant, the market, and 23  total units of housing on the existing Doyle’s parking lot and above the proposed market and phase two will include the proposed triangular six unit residential building on Williams St.

Scales talked a little bit about the proposed Kennedy Room within the restaurant that she said “can be used for a variety of functions.” She said that feedback from past meetings included that people felt the room could be larger.

“This room could hold up to 48 or so people,” she said, adding that the proposal includes the installation of a sliding folding glass door on one side of the room to allow for expansion.

“When the wall is open, we get seating capacity for nearly 80 here,” Scales said.

Neighbor Patty Yehle, who said she lives next to Doyle’s, said she was concerned about parking and “noise abatement on the roof deck,”  adding that “noise carries from the parking lot right now.” She wondered if a screen could be put in on the side facing Meehan St.

Goodman said that the residents will have assigned parking spaces, and there will be 22 spaces for 23 units, which will be in a stacker system. There will be an additional 25 to 29 parking spaces for the restaurant and market.

“We trie to get as many spaces as we could,” Goodman said, as the team wants people to visit the restaurant with their families and be able to park their cars.

Another resident said he was concerned about traffic being blocked as Williams St. is a one way street, and with the proposed location of the parking, he thinks people will “go for one of those seven and create a backlog.” He also said that he is concerned about the menu, as he loves Brassica’s food, but his kids would not eat it.

Goodman said that Jeremy Kean of Brassica, who did not attend this meeting, “has always said what they’re trying to do is take Doyle’s menu and cook Doyle’s food the way they envision it.” There will be some “beloved Brassica items,” he said, but there will also be a menu of Doyle’s staples that doesn’t change, such as pizza, burgers, and fried chicken.

As for the parking issue, he said that people can exit the parking area through Gartland St. “I think that it won’t create a traffic jam because people aren’t U-turning back out to Williams,” Goodman said.

Someone named Trevor in the chat wrote: “ It is a great opportunity to have a JP developer revive Doyles and bring in a great JP restaurant, especially in such challenging times for the restaurant industry.  Judging by past Watermark and Scales Architecture I’m sure this will be a welcomed addition to JP and Washington Street.  Love the trees and the 10 ft step back.”

The development team was asked what zoning variances they would need for this project, and Goodman said that “we’ll definitely need height, Floor Area Ratio, and maybe parking,” but they have not yet received their rejection letter from the Inspectional Services Department.

SNA member Jennifer Uhrhane said that it is “not clear to me if this really is a restoration.” She wondered what about the original Doyle’s was being restored. 

“We’re using that term a bit loosely,” Scales said. “It’s not a historic restoration at all,” but rather the team is reusing some of the original pieces and mixing them with new ones.

Goodman said he would be happy to come back before this group again to make sure that everyone’s voices are heard, as well as meet with neighbors via Zoom to discuss the project further.

97-99 Williams St.

Elaine Scales is also the architect for this project, which has been before the SNA for nearly a year, and sparked a process discussion at a Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Zoning Committee meeting in December.

She presented the most recent proposal for 97-99 Williams St. at the January 11 SNA meeting, where the group ultimately decided to officially oppose the project due to what they feel are still outstanding concerns.

Scales said that “one of the key points to the design” of this building is that the “building facades present themselves at an angle to Williams St.”

She also presented some changes that have been made since that JPNC Zoning Committee meeting, which includes shifting the right building (99 Williams) to the left two feet, away from 97 Williams. Additionally, four new trees will be added, and the width of the easement has been shrunk to provide more space in the backyard she said.

Scales said that the proposal “meets front yard setbacks for the block,” and features “82 feet of uninterrupted green space along Williams St. Each unit has many windows that overlook the street.”

She said that the first floor units will have handicap accessible features, and the ground floor will be handicap accessible. The width of the driveway has also been reduced.

Variances for 97 Williams, which is the existing building on the lot, include insufficient lot size, excessive Floor Area Ratio, and insufficient rear yard setback. She also said that the project “had been flagged”  for an open space violation on the previous design, but “now we are well in excess of the required open space.

Variances for 99 Williams, which is land proposed to be built on, include insufficient off-street parking, as there are five spaces proposed for six units, the use is a violation as it is a proposed six unit building in a three family zone, the Floor Area Ratio is excessive, and the lot area is insufficient for the additional residential units, Scales said.

Developer Joe Federico said that he has “worked with the subcommittee for almost a year now,” and the team has “made many changes. From my point of view, one of the largest changes to the building was going from a gabled roof building to a flat roof building, something I was hesitant to do.” He said he preferred the gabled roof building because it was similar to one of Scales’ other projects on Rossmore Road.

Federico also explained that the subcommittee asked for one of the buildings to be moved closer to Washington Street “in order to preserve more trees. We did not want to shift the building forward,” he said, as the “rhythm of the building and staggered masses is crucial to the rhythm of the street. It would feel forced with the balconies almost hanging off the sidewalk,” he added.

Scales agreed, saying she was “very much against bringing this forward.”

The team also said that another thing that was not changed was the smaller size of the balconies, and Scales said that she believes that it would feel “oppressive” to make them any bigger, and there is no space to do so.

“It would just be too congested in my opinion to have those triple decker porches so close together,” Scales said.

Scott Glidden, one of the members of the subcommittee for this project, said that “we’ve been meeting with Joe since the beginning of May,” and have repeatedly asked for the project to be smaller. He said the subcommittee really “wanted the developer to adjust the siting of the building on the lot,” and they as a whole believe the building is still too big and even more space is needed in the back.

Subcommittee member Jared Egan said that he is supportive of a six unit building “but we’d like to see it go smaller or move to get more space.”

The SNA voted 21 to one with two abstaining to oppose this project.

The project was expected to go before the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) on January 12, but the developer requested a deferral at the hearing, which was granted. The new ZBA date for the project is March 30 at 12:30pm. Public comment on the project is welcome at the hearing.

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