The Bay Village Historic District Commission held its first virtual meeting via Zoom on May 12, where an advisory review for the construction of nine rowhouses on the existing parking lot at 132 Arlington St. was heard. The Commission was in favor of the proposal, but they did not take an official vote.
David Goldman of New Boston Ventures said that the project team’s “goal from the very beginning” was to create a project on this site that was “not controversial,” “complies with existing zoning,” and “fits into the neighborhood.”
The project consist of nine three story adjacent townhouses with garage parking that, according to Goldman, comply with Floor Area Ratio and “all other applicable law” except for Groundwater Conservation Overlay District requirements. He added that the team has met twice before with Joe Cornish, Director of Design Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission, to get input and feedback on the direction of the proposal, and this was the first time the full Commission had seen it.
Goldman added that there is an 1890 Sanborn map of Edgerly Place that was lined with townhouses in this location. “In some ways, it’s a nod to the historic nature of the street and what once stood there,” he said.
Architect Jonathan Garland explained that the project fronts on Edgerly Place, and he went through some of the design features that the team has chosen so far.
“We want to be very compatible with the scale of the neighborhood,” he said. “The use of materiality is important.” The townhomes will be red brick, with a warm colored metal used on the rear facade and the window bays on the front.
He discussed other buildings in the neighborhood where inspiration was drawn from, including the building across the street with the “green datum line above the entry,” which Garland said “strikes a balance of the base of the building and the upper levels.” He said they are looking at a similar datum height for the townhouses, as it “feels connected and compatible between the proposed and the existing.”
He also referenced the Boston Center for Adult Education building, which is adjacent to this proposed development. That building is around three stories high, so Garland said the townhouses would appropriately fit in with the scale of existing buildings.
“There are a lot of three and four story buildings in the area,” he said.
Additionally, there will be a single garage door for each of the townhomes, and brick and possibly cobblestone paving will be used to “make this feel pedestrian,” Garland said.
There will be a backyard garden patio that works with the cornice lines, with a six foot high fence between each of the townhomes.
Garland said that a plate metal with a certain gauge would be used on the building to provide rigidity, and it would have a finish on it that prevents discoloration.
“At this moment, our thinking is that the yard space is the primary outdoor space, said
Dennis Kanin of New Boston Ventures. He said that they are currently leaning against the idea of installing roof decks, but that could change at a later date. However, there will be mechanical space on the roof that is “very low profile” and the parapet on the building would not allow the equipment to be visible from the street, Goldman said.
“I like what I see,” Commissioner Stephen Dunwell said, adding that the fact that it is zoning compliant is a plus, especially for the neighborhood residents. “There’s a lot to like here.”
Dunwell also said that a lot of housing in Bay Village is industrial turned residential, and Commissioner Thomas Hotaling said that these townhomes are a chance for housing to be differentiated even more.
“I think it’s a lovely design,” said Commissioner Ruth Knopf. “A lot of thought went into it,” she added, and said it “fits into the space” and is “not exceeding boundaries like we’re used to seeing.”
Dennis Kanin said he has talked to someone who represents the new buyers of the abutting Boston Center for Adult Education building, and said that they are planning to keep the same height as the current building.
Goldman said that they are looking to build this “as quickly as possible,” as all the financing is in place. This hearing was purely advisory and was a chance for Commissioners to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposal. The project proponents must come back before the Commission with their final presentation for an official vote before they can proceed.