BCDC seeks another meeting with BMS Paper about development

By Adam Swift

     The Boston Civic Design Commission (BCDC) had its third go-round at the BMS Paper mixed-use development at 3390 Washington St. at its Dec. 13 meeting.

     There was positive feedback about issues that were addressed by the architect regarding the site plan and the project’s relationship to the neighboring Pine Street Inn project.

     However, the commissioners said they would like to see the project come back before them for at least one more review to provide more information about access at the main driveway as well as the design of the restaurant planned for the development.

     The 3390 Washington St. project includes approximately 160 residential units, an improvement and expansion of the existing business on-site, a moderately priced neighborhood-style restaurant with off-street parking for 195 vehicles, and all associated amenities.

     At the Dec. 13 meeting, project architect David O’Sullivan of Sullivan Architects pointed out many of the improvements that have been made to the outdoor space, the landscaping, and the traffic circulation.

     “We want to create a real clear path through Washington Street to get to the back residential building,” said O’Sullivan. “We’ve also worked on the courtyard area, we’ve reduced some parking, and we’ve added some greenspace.”

     Some of the changes were made to make the property safer for pedestrians, creating a buffer between the sidewalk and the start of the parking on the site.

     “We are doing some traffic calming where we are doing asphalt partway up the driveway, and then having an area of pavers to break up the driveway,” O’Sullivan said.

     A green roof was considered for one of the two buildings, but it was decided that the building could not support it. O’Sullivan said there will be solar panels on the roofs of both buildings.

     Jennifer Uhrhane, who heads the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association, said her group appreciates many of the recent changes that were made to the plans for the project.

     “I’m happy to see some things incorporated that we’ve been asking for for quite some time,” she said. “It looks like there are a lot of improvements that address some of our concerns about the courtyard and pedestrian safety.”

     She said she also appreciated the addition of different materials and pavers in the courtyard area.

     However, Uhrhane said she still had some concerns about bicycle access and the overall look of the buildings.

     “The pedestrians now have a protected colonnade walkway on the Pine Street Inn end of the driveway, but I don’t see how this is accommodating for bike safety, it still seems very car-centric in terms of the driveway entry off of the street,” Uhrhane said.

     As with much other new development in that area of Jamaica Plain, Uhrhance said she was concerned about the color scheme of the proposed buildings.

     “It is still a very neutral gray building,” she said. “I appreciate that there is a bit more articulation in the facade, so it’s not quite as flat, but there is still a lot of gray and a lot of neutrals.”

     She said she would like to see some more creativity with the colors and materials used in the project.

     Several of the design commissioners also reiterated that they would like to see a stronger design on the entrance for the proposed restaurant.

     In other BPDA news affecting Jamaica Plain, on Dec. 15, the BPDA board approved a project that will adaptively reuse the landmarked Blessed Sacrament Church building, converting it into a mixed-use development while preserving the historic building.

     The project will include 55 income-restricted housing units and a community room operated by the Hyde Square Task Force. There will also be 55 bicycle parking spaces on site, as well as a Blue Bikes station.

     The housing component will include a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, and as part of the project, there will be a new, accessible plaza space along the front of the building.

              According to the BPDA board, the project is consistent with the city’s goal to increase housing opportunities, including affordable housing and a wide range of housing options for the neighborhood. In addition, the board stated the project will increase the safety and appearance of the area with new lighting and landscaping.

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