BVHDC Discusses Proposals on Charles St. and Shawmut St.

The Bay Village Historic District Commission (BVHDC) met virtually on August 9, where it discussed two proposals: one at 121 Charles St., and one at 18 Shawmut St.

121 Charles St.

At 121 Charles St. Daniel Kim is proposing to open Charles St. Dental, and has recently come before the Commission to get the signage approved. He was back on Tuesday to have a variety of other work approved, including the installation of a new air intake grille in the soffit above the entry door, replace the existing ventilation grille in the rear, install a new fire alarm beacon, and replace the existing egress door.

The project’s business development manager said that the building is unsprinklered, and the alarm system is required by the city to be updated.

He said that the HVAC system is also old and needs upgrading, and to do so, fresh air needs to be brought into the building via a new intake grille in the soffit in the front of the building. It will be located by the existing recessed lights, he said.

The proposed fire alarm signaling device will only flash if the alarm goes off, and will allow the fire department to know where the fire is, he said.

“Lastly, we are in order to maintain means of egress” through the existing side door, but it must swing out. The current door swings in and has a cage over it. The business development manager said that the cage would be removed, and the door would be replaced with one that swings open. The door has to be steel, but could be painted any color, and the team is open to suggestions from the Commission, he said.

“Everything looks great,” said Commissioner Steve Dunwell. He said that the location for the air intake grille is a “good solution.”

He did, however, have a couple of questions about the egress door, which was proposed to have a handle to open it. Dunwell suggested that a push bar on the inside would work best, as a handle “might be tempting” for people from the outside.

The current door is white, but the Commission suggested a darker color, such as a gray, that would help it blend in better. Commissioners seemed to agree that gray was the best choice, and voted to approve the project. The team will consult with staff on final color selection.

18 Shawmut St.

At 18 Shawmut St., Gerry DiPierro of DiPierro Construction proposed to install a blade sign on an existing bracket for his client, who owns a family psychological center called Katalyst.

The owner is moving her business from New Hampshire to Boston, and will run it out of the building at 18 Shawmut St.

DiPierro pointed out an existing bracket on the building next door at 20 Shawmut St., and proposed to install a similar one with the sign at this building.

Commissioner Anne Kilguss wanted to know what the zoning was for Shawmut Ave.

“I know on Fayette St., you can have a professional office there but no employees,” she said.

“There have been businesses on Shawmut St. before,” said Commissioner Steve Dunwell. “There is a precedent for having businesses there.”

After a bit of research, Dunwell reported that 18 Shawmut is a commercial building per the City of Boston.

The Commission then had some questions about sign rules, and Joe Cornish, Director of Desig Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission, said that right now, they are “”a little vague.”

Signs in Bay Village are not to be illuminated, and “materials and design need to complement the district and the architecture of the building,” he said. “It’s sort of open for interpretation.”

The proposed sign included a white background with the Katalyst logo on it in a darker color, but Cornish said that “I think this sign would look better if it had a dark background and lighter features.”

DiPierro said that he could change the color of the background, and would be willing to work with Cornish on those kinds of details.

“This looks more like a business card and less like a sign,” Dunwell said. “The white is too bright.” He also said that he would like to see the sign photoshopped onto the building.

Commissioner Tom Hotaling also reiterated that per Commission guidelines, the sign bracket must be installed into mortar joints, which DiPierro was aware of. The Commission voted to continue this application with the recommendation that a rendering be created of the sign and different options with other colors be presented at the next hearing. Additionally, the bracket must be installed at a height similar to the one at 20 Shawmut St.

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