By John Lynds
The developers of the building being proposed at 171-172 Tremont St. said they have dramatically reduced the height of the building by 100 feet since first pitching the development close to two years ago.
In December 2014, TD Street LLC and Center Court Partners LLC teamed up with Maurice Dabbah of Switzerland to buy a 17,752-square-foot office building at 171-172 Tremont St. and convert that building into condos according to BRA filings. The plan called for the development team to build a 355-foot, 31-unit boutique luxury condo building.
However, after listening to community concerns, the concerns of neighbors and community groups from Chinatown and Beacon Hill, the development team spearheaded by architects from O’Neill and Associates first reduced the height of the building to 255 ft. and then to 235 ft.
Currently the plan before the Boston Redevelopment Authority is to construct a 235 ft. building that will house 18 condo units with 21 underground parking spaces.
Mike Sherry of O’Neill and Associates said the plan also calls fort the construction of a public ‘pocket park’ on an easement between their proposal and a building next door.
“This project has undergone a lot of changes since it was first proposed,” said Sherry. “We did a lot of talking with the community and the biggest concern, understandably, was over the height of the building.”
There is an city zoning ordinance for tall building to be built along the Boston Common and Public Garden and anything being proposed over 155 feet needs a variance from the city.
Sherry argues that while the building is over the 155 foot threshold, if built it would not be the tallest building on Tremont Street.
“If we get approval this would no longer be the tallest building on Tremont Street and Tremont on the Commons is taller than what we are proposing,” he said.
Since 2014, Sherry said the development team has tried hard to address the concerns of the community and neighbors and balance those concerns with the project.
“We have been listening and having conversations with folks since day one,” said Sherry. “When the project was first proposed we had 5,000 sq. ft. of shadow that would be cast on the Commons with the height at 355 ft. We have reduced that footprint by 41 percent by lowering the building to 235 ft and are now at 2,900 sq. ft. of shadow.”
Last week the Friends of the Public Garden said it was still opposing the project even at 235 ft. As the project is currently proposed, the Friends of the Public Garden argued the project will exceed current protective zoning and set a harmful precedent by opening the door for more development exceeding the height limit in the mid-town area bordering Boston Common and the Public Garden. Since the 1970’s, the Friends of the Public Garden has continuously advocated for protecting the Common from excessive shadow and wind resulting from development projects that would have a damaging impact on this vital and heavily used historic urban park. On most every project around the Commons, the group has advocated for compliance with both the 1990 Shadow Law and Boston’s zoning code’s provisions protecting the Common as well as the Public Garden.
“We are still listening to those concerns from groups like the Friends of the Public Garden and work those concerns in with the design of the building,” said Sherry.