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Proposed eco-friendly apartment complex would ban car ownership

Posted by Your Town  February 15, 2013 05:30 PM

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The Boston Redevelopment Authority held a public meeting in Allston recently for a proposed new $10.6 million apartment complex at 37 N. Beacon Street that would ban its tenants from owning cars in an effort to promote a more “green” Boston.

Sebastian Mariscal said at the Jan. 31 meeting that it plans to replace a used car parking lot and a house on the busy corner of N. Beacon Street and Everett Street with a five-story, 44-unit rental complex with ambitious goals of promoting sustainability. The proposed building features an open 60ft. x 70ft. greenway in the middle of the square structure and 47 private gardens within the complex.

Each unit will be accompanied by a private 4ft. x 4ft. garden, storage space, and two bicycle parking spaces. Mariscal’s sustainable structure will also feature community rooftop gardens, solar panels, and recycled rainwater.

According to Mariscal’s proposal, tenants will have to sign an addendum to their lease that requires them to be car-less. Rents will range from $1,500 to $2,500 a month for a studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom or three-bedroom apartment.

“I will keep pushing for this ideal through my projects,” Mariscal, owner of Sebastian Mariscal Studio, said at the meeting held at Jackson-Mann Community Center on Cambridge St. “Sustainability is a great thing to strive for. I hope that this is only a little seed that grows into something great.”

Mariscal said that according to his research, 45% of renter households in Allston do not have a car owner and 52 percent of Allston residents do not drive to work. He said he hopes to attract this market of local residents who do not own cars. In an attempt to attract young professionals in the area, these units can be live-work spaces for any tenant looking to escape the overhead of a business, he added.

“I definitely think the eco-friendliness of the complex could be a good thing. The option of such a living situation is valuable,” said Daniel Bernays, a local resident. “It would be especially good if it ended up doing well and influenced other such complexes to be built.”

“I think the demographic change will drive this development,” said Jessica Robertson, another local resident. “Young professionals, like myself, are interested in living in a more densely populated area and not driving to work.”

The architect said he wishes to promote the use of public transit and the use of more eco-friendly transportation options. In the meeting, he stressed the use of local bus routes, such as the 51, 57, 64, and 66, and the Green Line of MBTA’s T service. Additionally, the proposal encouraged the use of bicycles, mopeds, and car sharing as an alternative to owning a car.

Despite the eco-friendly push from the architect, some locals have doubts about the project, mainly the car-less policy the architect plans to enforce with his residents.

“As a young professional, I would probably not live in this building. I do own a car in order to work and go to school and would be unwilling to part with it to live in a specific building,” stated Evelyn Liberman, a local resident. “But I think that this could be a good option for young professionals who do not need cars and want to live a greener lifestyle.”

The architect said his team carefully took suggestions from local residents into account throughout the meeting and as the formal voting process nears, but he remains steadfast on his car-less policy. The BRA did not return calls seeking a timeline for the project’s approval.

“It just takes one building to change things. A great city is made of ‘test’ buildings that change the environment. The city is too boring without changes,” Mariscal concluded.

The architectural firm said it already received bank approval, and Mariscal confirmed that his firm hopes to break ground in February 2014.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Boston University News Service.

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