By Michael Coughlin Jr.
The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) gathered together on Monday, May 8, for its bi-monthly meeting and, in doing so, voted to not oppose a project at 3390 Washington Street – the site of the BMS Paper Company.
The BMS Paper Company, a supplier for all sorts of entities like restaurants, bars, offices, schools, and more, is owned by Robert Harrington, and since at least 2020, he has been looking to develop at the site.
Over the years, the project has gone through different iterations. However, as of now, according to the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) website, “The development will include approximately 82 residential units, an improvement, and expansion of the existing business on-site, a moderately priced neighborhood-style restaurant with off-street parking for 87 vehicles, and all associated amenities.”
Of the 82 residential units, 19 (23%) are slated to be affordable units – 17 of which are at 70% Area Median Income (AMI), and two of the units will be at 50% AMI. As for the sizes of the affordable units, there will be two studios, nine one-bedrooms, five two-bedrooms, and three three-bedrooms.
“We’re happy to achieve the 23% – that’s sort of what we came in at – and even though the market rate units have decreased, we’ve kept that 23%, so we’re pretty happy with that – BPDA staff is as well,” said Christopher Tracy of O’Neill and Associates.
Moving toward other development features, Harrington spoke about the restaurant aspect and shared his excitement.
“I’m really excited about the restaurant part of it … it’s going to be a three different concept restaurant that I think the neighborhood would like,” said Harrington. However – he stopped short of going into more detail to create more of a surprise.
Several public benefits were also discussed as part of the meeting, including creating a semi-public courtyard and even a new pedestrian pathway that connects Washington Street through the courtyard to the Forest Hills Apartments.
“We are also proposing a new pedestrian crosswalk just south of our driveway between Pine Street and us that connects across,” said David O’Sullivan from O’Sullivan Architects.
Other public benefits include the institution of a Blue Bike program and free community meeting space.
Overall, there did not seem to be much concern with the project; there was some talk about wanting more affordable three-bedroom units included; however, several residents seemingly spoke in favor of the project moving forward.
“I know it’s been a long, tough road, but thanks for sticking with it. I appreciate your commitment to the neighborhood, your community, customers – I appreciate you just wanting to make things better for the people you serve with your business,” said Susan Cibulsky.
Another resident complimented Harrington’s willingness to work with the community and, regarding the project itself, said, “It still needs some tweaking probably, but all in all, it seems like a wonderful proposition.”
Jennifer Uhrhane, who ran a sub-committee concerning the project, acknowledged that the project had made improvements over time to things like livability, the property’s flow, the building layouts, the amenities, and more.
She also read a statement from another sub-committee member, which she identified pretty much summed up the feelings of the sub-committee.
The statement in part read, “While the SNA and the sub-committee can continue to advocate for additional improvements, I believe we should vote to not oppose the project.”
As aforementioned, voting to not oppose is just what the SNA did, with a final vote of 14 to not oppose and one abstaining.
Upon learning the result of the vote, Harrington gave his thanks to the SNA, saying, “Thank you for all the time your steering committee put in and the whole organization. I appreciate the time, and I appreciate your patronage.”
It should be noted that this project was slated to go before the BPDA Board on Thursday, May. 11, after this story had been filed – to learn about the BPDA’s decision, you can visit https://www.boston.gov/departments/broadband-and-cable/watch-boston-city-tv, which provides a link to a youtube channel and a video library, both of which should have a recording of the meeting.