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Quincy apartment approval comes with traffic improvements

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 11, 2013 06:25 PM

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Quincy City Councilors have grown from skeptical to supportive of a 180-unit apartment complex planned for the vacant lot next to Lowe's, which received full council backing Monday night.

The council, sitting as a Special Permit Granting Authority, had initially delayed a vote on the Zero Penn Street proposal after a meeting in June, calling the application as it was presented incomplete.

Yet with a summer of work behind them, the applicants presented an updated report to the council on Monday, complete with revised traffic figures, traffic mitigation measures, and pedestrian safety upgrades.

“They spent the summer doing their homework and presenting us with a far more complete plan that the council was able to support unanimously,” said Quincy City Councilor Brian Palmucci. “It was a solid plan and addressed some traffic and safety concerns in the area and gave us some funding to make improvements in that area.”

The 235,000 square-foot, six-story building is estimated to generate increase vehicle traffic only by one percent, project manager Caleb Manchester with developer Cabot, Cabot & Forbes said in an email.

For example, at the Centre/Albertina/Brooks intersection, the project is projected to add 6 cars (trips) per peak morning hour over the existing and projected 841 cars.

Traffic signals in the area also wouldn’t be adversely impacted, and additional cue lengths, or line lengths at traffic signals, will remain mostly unchanged. Traffic data showed apartment traffic would be going in the opposite direction during peak times, Manchester said.

“The site was originally permitted for a retail use, which is more traffic intensive. We anticipate that a large percentage of residents will be commuting via the adjacent MBTA Red Line, with access to all major employment centers in Quincy, Boston, and Cambridge,” Manchester said. “We have seen steady increases in the demand for housing with direct rapid transit access, and our presence here is representative of our strategy to serve that demand.”

Additionally, traffic data from the Lowes development was significantly lower than anticipated – a realized 350 car trips on a Saturday verses a predicted 850.

To ease any traffic concerns, the developer agreed to pay $100,000 to the city to make the Burgin Parkway, Lowe's/Apartment Complex intersection more pedestrian friendly.

Pedestrian safety experts Toole Design Group, hired by the developer, suggested a slew of fixes including planters and shrubbery to put around the intersection “which would have a calming effect on traffic,” Palmucci said.

The money will also be used to rearrange pedestrian crosswalks.

Developers will also spend $30,000 on a gate to be installed along Penn Street at the Lowe's site, and will contribute $8,000 per unit to the Affordable Housing Trust under the guidelines of the special permit.

Construction is slated to begin in early 2014.

“The project will provide significant hardscape and landscape improvements, creating a first-class, pedestrian friendly environment and streetscape for both current and future residents,” Manchester said. “This parcel bridges the gap between the neighborhood and the MBTA station, so it’s important that we improve upon what is there.”

For more information about the project or renting an apartment, visit the Cabot, Cabot & Forbes website at www.ccfne.com, or call 617-603-4000.

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