By Dan Murphy
The public got a look at the latest plans for what would be the largest redevelopment project in the neighborhood’s history during a special meeting sponsored by the Beacon Hill Civic Association on Monday, March 28.
The proposed project would transform the interconnected, six-story Hiriam J. Archer and Frank J. Donahue buildings at Temple and Derne streets, which were previously owned and occupied by Suffolk University, into a 75-unit condominium development with 60 on-site parking spaces.
Under the latest proposal, the basement garage below the Donahue building would be accessed via an elevator on the side of the building from “Donahue Alley” off Temple Street. The developers had previously intended to provide access to the garage in front of the lobby on Temple Street, but reconfigured the plan in response to concerns from abutters. In an effort to facilitate pedestrian access from Temple Street to Ridgeway Lane, the elevator also replaces an elevated ramp that was previously proposed to provide access to the garage, project consultant Leo Corcoran said.
Peter Thompson of Bellingham Place said the proposed garage would be “cataclysmic and catastrophic” to the neighborhood.
“Eventually, they’ll just be a thorough-way of cars,” Thompson said. “This is a terrible precedent to start, and if you let it happen, it’s goodbye, Beacon Hill.”
Temple Street resident Becky Mulzer expressed apprehension that the latest proposal includes a “staging area” in the alley to queue up residents’ cars for imminent use.
“My concern is the impact on the quality of life on Temple Street after the project is completed,” Mulzer said. “An outdoor staging area will create a lot of noise…so I’d recommend fewer spaces in the garage to crate a staging area inside.”
UPS and other deliveries would be made on Derne Street, and the concierge would then hold packages at the front desk for residents to retrieve.
As part of the latest plan, the footprint of the penthouse will be pulled back to reduce visibility, and the unit will be constructed from glare-proof glass and metal. A full-length screen will also be used to shield the building’s mechanicals from view on Ridgeway Lane. The project would also increase the height of the penthouse to 115 feet from the building’s current height of 98 feet.
Several in attendance objected to the increase in height because they believe it would set a bad precedent in the neighborhood.
The developer submitted the project plans and a revised Environmental Notification Form (ENF) to the city on March 31, which triggerred the start of a 30-day public comment period five days later. Visit www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org for more information.