In an informational meeting sponsored by the Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) Zoning and Licensing Committee last Tuesday, an applicant outlined preliminary plans to demolish the two-story building at 156 Cambridge St. that houses the Beacon Hill Athletic Club and Seoul restaurant and replace it with an eight-story building that would accommodate an extended-stay hotel.
Building owners Jason Klein and David Weis intend to replace the existing structure with a mixed-use building, which would contain a restaurant and other retail space on the street level and 70 extended-stay hotel suites on the floors above, as well as two levels of underground parking for 24 vehicles, accessible from Joy Street.
Maggie Moran, chair of the Beacon Hill Nursery School board of directors, expressed concern that the front entrance and the proposed garage entrance would be located directly across from the school at 74 Joy St., and that construction could have other detrimental impacts on students.
Keeta Gilmore, chair of the BHCA board of directors, said the proposed development presents an opportunity at the location, but that the addition of 24 more vehicles to one of the busiest blocks in the neighborhood would undeniably have an adverse effect on traffic conditions in the area.
Hancock Street resident Susan Weiler said the proposed height of eight stories, or 79 feet, is completely “out of scope” with the neighborhood. She also suggested that patrons of an extended-stay hotel would likely be less committed to the community than longer-term residents.
“Would you rather bring in 70 transient people when you could being in people who could join the Beacon Hill Civic Association and make the neighborhood a better place to live?” she asked.
Committee co-chair Tom Clemens said while erecting a larger building at the proposed location “wasn’t necessarily a bad idea,” the consensus is that five stories should be its maximum height.
Attorney Dennis Quilty said the applicant would take comments from the meeting into consideration and return to the community with a revised proposal before moving forward with the project.