BHAC Approves Crush Boutique’s Proposed Blade Sign While Denying Request for New Blade Sign

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission voted unanimously to approve a proposed hanging blade-sign for Crush Boutique’s new home at 138 Charles St. while denying the applicant’s request for a new pan sign at the same location during its July 15 hearing, which took place via Zoom.

Bryn Robinson of Boston Sign Co. said the blade sign would be made of wood while the proposed pan sign would’ve been crafted from aluminum and primed and painted to resemble the existing pan signs at the adjacent post office at 136 Charles St., as well as the pan sign at the storefront on the other side of Crush.

Commission members indicated the building’s owner was in violation of the commission’s guidelines when they painted over the original black-and-gold leaf details, and would be cited for that infraction. The commission subsequently opted to make this s separate issue so the application could move forward, while Martha McNamara, who served as the commission’s chair pro tempore at the meeting in the absence of a current chair or vice chair, suggested asking the building owner for a signage master plan at the time they are cited for the violation. 

In regard to the applicant’s other request for a decal on the boutique’s front door that would list its hours of operation, details will be remanded to staff.

The commission also unanimously approved an application for a new business, East Coast Ivy Boutique, to install a wooden blade sign in black with white lettering at 88 Charles St., with the proviso that the applicant work with staff to possibly find a better means of attaching the sign than the existing hardware.

Nick Armata, senior preservation planner for the Boston Landmarks Commission, added that the owner of the building at 88 Charles St. would also be issued a violation for a light fixture, which, he said, is “very poorly installed” and “rather unsightly.”

On an application to replace 12 canopy-mounted fixtures with new LED fixtures, as well as to install one new wall-mounted LED fixture in the front of the building, at the Bank of America ATM vestibule at 45 Charles St., the commission voted unanimously to continue its determination.

Josh Waggoner of GMR, a Texas engineering firm, said the proposed lighting upgrade is intended to satisfy a new state law regarding lighting requirements for banks.

Dr. Charles Andrew Czeisler, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, urged the applicant to use lower-temperature light fixtures than were proposed because of the potential adverse health effects of exposure to blue lights at night, while, he lower temperature incandescent lighting now on the market, he said, would clash less with the neighborhood’s existing gas-lamps.

In response, Waggoner said that lower-temperature lights could “easily” be used instead for the project.

McNamara asked the applicant to provide more information regarding the potential location of the new LED fixture and also said she would like to know more about exceptions for adding more ambient light in a historic district.

In another matter, the commission unanimously denied without prejudice an application that was continued from its May 20 hearing to paint the existing bays at 57 Myrtle St., after Terri Sacco, a member of the building’s condo association and president of its board of trustees, indicated they would prefer that the bays not be painted and instead returned tom its original color.

According to Sacco, a contractor had erroneously begun painting the metal bays with brown primer, as well as glossy black paint, but the condo association put a stop to the work as soon as they became aware of the issue. The contactor now wants to repaint them, Sacco added, even though the condo association doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

“Clearly, the contractor made a mistake,” said Sacco, “and we don’t know how we’re going to resolve it.”

On an application for the Union Club at 8 Park St. to install a new, approximately 90-foot chimney at the rear of the property to provide exhaust for its new heating system, the commission unanimously approved the proposed work, with the proviso that the applicant work with staff to select the chimney’s color, which might be a brick shade.

The commission also unanimously approved an application for 87 Pinckney St. to replace the existing deck, as well as to replace the existing wood rail with a metal one, with proviso that the proposed metal rail is used; that the existing HVAC units be moved as close as possible to the building; and that the deck’s size be reduced by 12 inches in an effort to minimize its visibility.

Likewise, the commission unanimously approved an application for 35 South Russel St. to replace in kind and laminate an existing service door to make it a means of egress for a basement space being converted into a new bedroom. This came with provisos that the paint color for the new door be submitted to staff for approval; that the proposed change in door hardware be remanded to staff; and that the applicant work with staff to eliminate or reduce the visibility of a hose bib.

On an extensive application for 1 Otis Place, which included installing a new roofdeck with glass guardrails, as well as a new pyramidal skylight; removing the brick infill on the second floor and replacing it with a window; replacing all 64 windows on the property with wood, true divided-light, double-hung windows in the historic profile and pane configuration; configuration; painting the window trim and cornice trim with flat, which are now all gray, black; replacing the door and installing new door hardware on Mount Vernon Street; and installing a new front door and door on Otis Street, the commission approved the proposed work, with provisos that the proposed deck be denied; that details for the skylight be remanded to a new subcommittee that includes at least two commission members; that windows be restored, rather than replaced; and that the new proposed second-floor window be denied, among other stipulations.

McNamara, along with Commissioners Wen Wen and Annette Given, volunteered to serve on the subcommittee.

The commission also voted to deny without prejudice an application for 73 Charles St. to enlarge the gate on the rear garden wall to provide access to a new, proposed garage.

McNamara described the existing wall with its garden door as a “defining feature of that building” and one that shouldn’t be altered to allow for the storage of vehicles.

The commission also remanded an extensive application Charles Street Garage at 144 Charles St. to subcommittee including no less than two commissioners.

McNamara, along with commissioners Wen and Alice Richmond, volunteered to serve on the subcommittee, and their meetings, like other commission subcommittee meetings, will be open to the public.

The applicant, who intends to transform the four-story garage, with retail currently on the ground floor and three levels of parking on the floors above, into a building with office space on the top two floors, parking on the second level and expanded retail opportunities at the street level, previously appeared before the commission for an advisory hearing at the June 17 meeting.

 Two other applications, for 88 Pinckney St. and for 39-41 Mount Vernon St., respectively, were both removed from the agenda at the request of both of their applicants.

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