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Developers eye West 3rd Street parcel for 160 residential units

Posted by Patrick Rosso  December 5, 2013 12:18 PM

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(Image courtesy Boston Assessing Department)


The location of the property.


Although the details are vague, by early next year Spaulding and Slye Investments could file plans for a residential project that would bring up to 160 residences to A Street and West 3rd Street in South Boston.

At a community meeting Wednesday night sponsored by the St. Vincent’s Lower End Neighborhood Association, Daniel St. Clair, managing director of Spaulding and Slye Investments, laid out the general development concept the company devised for the large parcel at 45 West 3rd St., which is currently the home of Cliflex Bellows, a manufacturing firm.

Spaulding and Slye Investments has the approximately 42,800-square-foot property under agreement to purchase, but has not filed any development plans with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, one of the first steps to bring any project to fruition.

According to St. Clair, his company is deliberately taking the process slow so that developers can better understand the neighbor’ priorities.

“We’re very early in the process; nothing has been filed,” said St. Clair. “We want to work with people to find an appropriate fit.”

While Wednesday’s meeting at the South Boston Lithuanian Club was largely populated by members of the St. Vincent’s Lower End Neighborhood Association, which represents a more residential section of the neighborhood, the project actually sits in the West Broadway Neighborhood Association’s section of South Boston, which is a denser community with a residential and commercial mix. That neighborhood association is expected to host the community meeting mandated by the BRA’s Article 80 process, once the project has been filed with the agency.

Plans unveiled Wednesday called for a building that boasts six-stories on A Street and steps down to five-stories at the South Boston Bypass Road, which divides the property from the St. Vincent’s section of the neighborhood. The project is expected to include retail space along A Street as well as make improvements to the streetscape along West 3rd Street with the addition of trees, a widened sidewalk, and plantings.

“We’re interested in making sure the pedestrian experience from A Street to the St. Vincent’s area is positive,” explained David Hacin, the lead architect for the project. “We want to make it [the development] feel like a block of individual buildings.”

The proposed building, which will be bound by A Street, West 3rd Street, and Athens Street, will to be interconnected, but split up into four sections to give it a less intrusive feel and to help it better fit within the context of the community, according to designers.

Parking for the project would be located in a semi-recessed garage, with the entrance on the corner of West 3rd Street and the South Boston Bypass Road bridge. Plans called for .8 parking spaces per unit. Developers also highlighted the project’s close proximity to the Broadway MBTA stop as well as space set aside for bike parking.

Plans presented Wednesday were general and did not include the make-up of the units and if they would be condos or rentals.

Reactions from residents were mixed, with most saying they commend efforts by developers to make the project fit, but said it was still too big and too intrusive.

“I appreciate the notion of the scale back, but as a pedestrian I’m still going to see a big building; it has to be shorter on the [West 3rd Street] pedestrian side,” said Britta Hiester, an area resident.

“We’re concerned about the density of the project,” said Donald Keenan, a South Boston resident. “Everybody has a car, you need parking.”

Others said the project didn’t step down enough when it approached the South Boston Bypass Road.

“It’s just too big,” explained Randy Foster, an area resident. “This transition from 35-feet [height limit in the St. Vincent’s neighborhood] to 55-feet [proposed height of the stepped down section of the building] doesn’t make sense.”

Many echoed Foster’s comments, saying the project will be overwhelming when compared to the buildings on the St. Vincent’s side of the neighborhood and the amount of new residents it could bring.

“From a density perspective we’re getting hammered,” explained Gary Murad, vice president of the St. Vincent’s Lower End Neighborhood Association. “When you talk about Transit Oriented Development it sounds good, but with all the new residents, transit in the neighborhood is already overwhelmed.”

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s meeting, residents left with a better understanding of the project and developers left with plenty of notes. Although another community meeting has not been scheduled, St. Clair said his organization would be open to coming back to the community before it files with the BRA.

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(Image courtesy Boston Assessing Department)


The location of the property.


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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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