BPDA Public Meeting Held for Doyle’s Cafe Proposal

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held a public meeting on May 20, where developer Lee Goodman and architect Elaine Scales presented the most recent iteration of the proposal to revive Doyle’s Cafe and add housing and a grocery market to the site.

Goodman explained that there are two proposed phases to the project, the first including the restaurant, the market, 1 Gartland St., and 60 Williams St., and the second including 69 Williams St.

The housing proposed above the market (1 Gartland) will be a total of four stories and 16 units, four on each floor, and at 60 Williams St., seven units are proposed. Another six units will be added during the 69 Williams St. phase.

Including both phases of the project, there are a total of four units proposed under the city’s Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP), he said. For the housing above the market, there are four condo units per floor, for a total of 16 units.

  For parking, there are 56 total spaces proposed, Goodman said.

 The restaurant will be operated by Brassica Kitchen + Cafe, headed by Jay Kean.

He then talked about compliance with PLAN: JP/Rox, saying that there are stepbacks proposed for the fifth floor, and “we did not build to the property line.”

PLAN:JP/Rox allows or a height of 55 feet, and the proposed height of the building is 56 feet on Washington St. and 42 feet on Williams St. for the residential portion of the proposal. There is also a proposed roof deck above the Doyle’s restaurant that will feature heaters to extend the amount of time the deck can be used.

 “We think it will be a great place for everyone to gather,” Goodman said.

 Scales said that when designing the building, she was “envisioning a strong commercial base,” that is “distinct from the residential units.”

She said that the “strong” commercial sign band from the original Doyle’s will remain on the new restaurant, and wrap all the way around the building. She also said that there are storefront windows proposed as well.

 “We want to make that open and inviting and strong,” Scales said. Additionally, there will be a stepback at the second floor level.

 “We wanted to use the red brick,” Scales continued, as it’s a “very iconic building material in Boston.” 

She talked about the entrance to the housing on Gartland St., saying that it “won’t feel like you’re getting mixed up with commercial activity.”

 Additionally, about nine street trees will be added, and the sidewalks will be expanded to comply with the city’s Complete Streets program.

Goodman said that one change that has been made from previous proposals of this project is that the community had asked for gender neutral bathrooms, which have been added to the proposal.

The market would be 5,188 square feet, and would have a “shared service area where deliveries would come,” Goodman said.

 He then talked about the automated stacker parking system that will have three levels of parking. It would be located under the second floor of housing and away from the the public parking.

Many residents spoke out in favor of the project, saying that they were excited to have a revamped version of the beloved Doyle’s restaurant, as well as more housing in the neighborhood and a grocery market that is so desperately needed in the area.

Resident Jan Wampler said that there is an “onslaught of housing on Washington Street,” but “the scale of this one is much more appropriate than the other ones we have seen.”

 He also said that he was “concerned about the starkness of glass” on the residential housing portion.

 Goodman said that he believes the stepback “was intended to help alleviate that,” but “your point is taken and we can look at that.”

  Resident Sue CIlbulsky, who is also a member of the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA), said that she thinks this project has a “beautiful design,” and praised Scales’ other work in the neighborhood. She also said that Goodman “has a really good reputation” in the community, and also spoke favorably of Brassica.

  “A grocery market has been on the list for our neighborhood,” she said, adding “I’m strongly in favor of the whole package.”

 Resident Jenny Nathans wondered why the inside of the existing Doyle’s building is not being restored.

 When it comes to zoning violations, Goodman said that it’s “a little misleading the amount of variances we have,” and though he said he did not have the zoning refusal letter readily available at the meeting, he said that there are “tons of violations” because the area is zoned for local industrial but the proposal includes housing, which is not an allowed use in the area.

BPDA Project Manager Lance Campbell said that diving into the zoning requirements is “ISD’s job,” and that he is “not at liberty” to do so.

  Another question was raised from resident Alcurtis Clark was about the second proposed grocery market as part of the BMS Paper project down the street.

  Goodman said that this one would be “more of a corner store,” adding that “I hope it doesn’t compete with him and they could both coexist quite well.”

For more information on the Doyle’s project as well as to view the full meeting video with all comments and questions raised, visit the BPDA project site at bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/doyle-s-cafe-restoration.

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