By Dan Murphy
The public got another look at the updated plans for what is slated to be the largest residential redevelopment project in Beacon Hill’s history on Thursday at a public meeting sponsored by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Dedham-based JDMD Owner, LLC intends to 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 beneath the Donahue building would be accessed via an elevator on the side of the building from the alley off Temple Street and operated by a professional valet service. Two penthouse units made of glass, brick and other historically appropriate materials, along with mechanicals, would sit atop the existing buildings, bringing the height to 115 feet from its current 98 feet, said the developer’s attorney, Leo Corcoran.
Neighbors expressed concern with the increased height, believing it would set a bad precedent for the neighborhood, obstruct views from the State House garden and library, and likely leave some nearby homes cast in shadow.
“Patio sunlight is so precious,” Temple Street resident Rob Corbin said. “You’re going to be taking that away from my family.”
Susan McWhinney-Morse said the project would have an adverse effect on Temple Street’s pedestrian character.
“Temple Street was designed to be a pedestrian walkway, and that’s what it’s been all these years,” McWhinney-Morse said.
McWhinney-Morse was also apprehensive of the project’s impact on density on Temple Street.
“What does adding 75 units do to the quality of life on the street?” she asked.
Temple Street resident Becky Mulzer suggested plans for a staging-area for as many as four cars in the alley off Temple Street could be moved inside the buildings to reduce noise.
Others in attendance recommended moving the garage’s entrance from the alley off Temple Street to Derne Street.
In response to inquiries about the project’s provisions for affordable housing, Christopher Tracy, senior project manager for the BRA, said the city’s Article 80 zoning code for large-scale projects requires that the developer make such accommodations, and that JDMD Owner is currently working with the BRA to fulfill its obligation.
Tracy said the BRA is accepting public comments on the project until Monday, May 2, although he added that the comment period would likely be extended.
Comments can be submitted to Christopher Tracy, senior project manager, via email at [email protected], by phone at 617-918-4259 or by fax at 617-742-4464. They can also be mailed to Tracy at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, One City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA 02201.