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James Collins Mansion project progresses

Posted by Patrick Rosso  January 28, 2014 12:50 PM

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Plans to renovate and add additions to the East Broadway property known as the James Collins Mansion were approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday morning.

The project, proposed by Rocco Skippa, calls for the renovation of the existing 8,690-square-foot structure at 928 East Broadway and the construction of two four-story wings, which will be attached to the main structure.

Once completed, the approximately 15,625-square-foot parcel will contain nine three-bedroom condo units and 18 parking spaces. Twelve of the parking spaces will be located underneath the structure with access from P Street. The six other spaces are proposed to be located at the front of the property.

The site has been a source of contention. Residents have advocated for preserving the building, constructed in the 1860s, because they believe it has historical value and played a role in defining the neighborhood as it transitioned from an industrial area to a residential district.

Neighbors have also said the project is too dense and too tall for the immediate neighborhood.

Appearing before the board for relief from a number of zoning variances, including excessive height and insufficient setbacks, developers of the project received some support from elected officials at Tuesday’s hearing.

The Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services, the office of City Councilor Bill Linehan, and the office of Senator Linda Dorcena Forry all said they support the project, as long as plans go through the Boston Landmarks Commission's design-review process.

State Representative Nick Collins, who also attended Tuesday’s hearing, called for a delay on the decision.

Although the project already went through a lengthy review by the Landmarks Commission, the developer has agreed to work with the commission to ensure any alterations are consist with the existing building and do not detract from it.

At least six residents and a representative from the office of at-Large City Councilor Michael Flaherty, turned out to oppose the project.

“I object to the increase in height,” explained Jim Johnston, an area resident. “All the other houses are three stories; the density is also excessive.”

“The parcel has great historical value and the current design does not reflect that,” said James Diperri, an area resident. “This particular plan is a regression from what was already proposed.”

Prior to the project coming before the board, a number of community meetings were held and the project was altered. Skippa had first proposed to demolish the home, but after working with the neighborhood, proposed a project that would save the existing structure.

The project, pending review by the Boston Landmarks Commission and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, could get underway in as little as six months, according to Skippa.

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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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