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Boston OKs plan for 280 apartments, retail near Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  October 18, 2013 04:13 PM

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The Boston Redevelopment Authority board voted unanimously Thursday to approve a developer’s plans to build 283 apartments, ground-floor retail, outdoor open space and 170 parking spaces near the Forest Hills MBTA Station in Jamaica Plain.

Commons-at-Forest-Hills.jpg
(Boston Redevelopment Authority)
The $95-million, 300,000 square foot project has been named the Commons at Forest Hills. It will be led by Forest Hills Arborway LLC, a partnership between The Brennan Group, a Beacon Hill-based lobbying firm, and John M. Corcoran and Company, a Braintree-based real estate, development and investment firm.

The 140-page plan for 3593-3615 Washington St., which was filed with city officials in July, calls for constructing four buildings on the 2.8-acre site ranging in height from three to five stories. Across the property, about one acre would be used for open space, including courtyards, private decks, a common roof deck and green space.

There would be about 9,000 square feet of space for ground-floor retail and commercial use, redevelopment officials said. The proposal includes 170 vehicle parking spots and 250 bike parking spots.

Housing would consist of a mix of studios and units with one bedroom, two bedrooms, two bedrooms plus a den and three bedrooms, according to the redevelopment authority. Forty of the units would be designated as affordable housing.

The project would also include some streetscape improvements.

The developer will aim for the project to receive LEED Silver certification for environmental sustainability. It would be a smoke-free property, development officials have said.

Work on the project would start in the spring or summer of 2014 and take about two years to build, the developers have said. It would create an estimated 280 construction jobs.

The site is next door to the Casey Overpass, which is scheduled to be torn down next year and replaced with a network of surface roads by the fall of 2016.

The proposed development site is also less than 800 feet from the Forest Hills MBTA station, which is due for improvements as part of the state's overpass replacement project.

The redevelopment authority in a press release Thursday said the project “reflects the principles of the 2008 BRA Forest Hills Improvement Initiative, which called for dense commercial and residential development on the publicly owned parcels around the Forest Hill T stop.”

And, the site is nearby other private developments have been recently been proposed or built.

About a half-mile south, another developer has proposed building a 130,000 square-foot mixed-use development. Across the street from that property is a new 44,000 square-foot mixed-use development.

Two summers ago, a developer filed with the city a proposal to build a five-building, 208,000-square-foot, mixed-use development on a 3.4-acre plot that would abut the Commons at Forest Hills project. The Jamaica Plain Gazette reported in May that that proposal, for 3521-3529 Washington St., is moving forward again after it had stalled for about a year when hazardous chemicals were discovered on the former car lot site.

The site at 3593-3615, where the Commons at Forest Hills would be built, was used for about 100 years by the former Hughes Oil Company for bulk storage and distribution of petroleum products.

"The giant above-ground oil tanks have been removed and an extensive environmental cleanup is nearing completion, including the removal of 30,000 tons of contaminated soil,” the development team said in a recent press release.

“The Commons at Forest Hills Station will be a beautiful and vibrant place to live with shops and amenities," said a statement from project spokeswoman Connie Kastelnik.

"It will be truly transformative, giving the neighborhood a more human feel, with increased pedestrian activity that will create its own sense of place and serve as a catalyst for future investment in this section of Forest Hills,” she added.

The property, which abuts New Washington and Burnett streets and Orange Line and commuter rail tracks, is occupied by several partially-vacant, low-level industrial buildings and parking lots and is currently used for office space and to store and sell electrical equipment and building materials.

The property is owned by Cambridge-based Arborway Corporation, which bought the site in 1980 for $350,000. It is now worth about $1.6 million, according to city records.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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