BHAC Hears Applications for New Coffee Shop Proposed for Charles Street

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission reviewed a pair of applications for a new Charles Street location of a Brooklyn-based chain of coffee shops during its monthly public hearing, which took place virtually on Thursday, Sept. 15.

Blank Street Coffee, which intends to take over the space formerly occupied by Starbucks at 97 Charles St., was before the commission to remediate the existing metal trim around the wood front door, as well as for the replacement of a light fixture above the door. The commission unanimously approved the application as submitted, with provisos that the façade and metal trim both be painted using a Cedar Path green shade, which is Blank Street’s corporate branding color, and that details of the light fixture be remanded to staff.

The commission also unanimously approved as submitted another application from Blank Street Coffee for new signage comprising a double-faced wood blade sign with painted aluminum lettering, measuring 28-by-25 inches and 1 inch thick. The blade sign was described by the applicant as a “simple black square with white lettering,” which would hang above the main entry door using existing an existing 42-inch bracket.

The approved application also includes plans for a main wall sign for the front of the store, which would also be made of wood and have aluminum lettering and use the same color scheme as the proposed blade sign.

Following an advisory review, the commission gave the green light for Old West Church to file a new application at the next public hearing on Thursday, Oct. 20, for the construction of a Food Forest Tool Storage Shed at 131 Cambridge St. (The commission had unanimously denied without prejudice an application for the proposed storage shed at its June 16 public hearing.)

Michael Moehring, a church trustee, said the proposed shed, which be used to store shovels, long-handle cultivators, and a wheelbarrow, among other tools, would measure 8-by-12 feet and be painted a shade of grey to match the church’s granite. The shed would be located on the west side of the church’s belltower and utilize 5-by-5 foot cedar timbres, along with white rock and crushed stone, for the foundation, added Moehring.

Nick Armata, senior preservation planner for the Boston Landmarks Commission, said, “Mike has been in touch with me every step of the way. This is the only location that’s going to minimize the impact on the viewshed to the church. Staff 100 percent supports this project.”

Commissioners Arian Allen and Annette Given said they supported the application, while other commissioners not on hand for this matter, including Mark Kiefer, Alice Richmond, were also “open to it,” according to Armata.

Commissioners Ed Fleck and Ralph Jackson still had some concerns with the application, but both said they would view a mock-up of the shed the next day and individually email Armata afterwards to share their thoughts on it.

“It seems like most of the commission is okay with the project,” said Armata. “It’s just the fine details we need to flesh out.”

Gene Butterfield, a Verizon engineer who came before the commission for the Aug. 18 hearing, made a return visit regarding proposed the installation of terminal covers as part of the utility provider’s replacement of its old copper-wire system with fiber optics. (At its Aug. 18 public hearing, the commission unanimously approved as submitted an application from Verizon for the installation of a black, sheet-metal box, measuring 16-by-20 inches and 8 inches deep, at 44 Chestnut St.)

This time, the commission unanimously approved as submitted the installation for new terminal covers at 135 Myrtle St., 53 Beacon St., 96 Mt. Vernon St., 56 Chestnut St., and 58 Chestnut St. respectively, with the provisos that staff (Armata) work with Verizon and effected homeowners to ensure that the placement of the covers is appropriate; that written approval is secured from the individual effected homeowners; and that Verizon subsequently remedy any mortar damage or other issues that arise during installation.

The commission unanimously approved as submitted an application for 86 Chestnut St. to replace two separate non-original doors with a single, custom-made panel door.

Tom Egan, the architect for the project, said a storefront had been added to the first floor of the 1845 townhouse in the early 20th century, but a developer who purchased the building around 2018 and 2019 had then converted it back to a single-family home. At this time, the developer installed a pair of “low-quality doors,” one of which is a “dummy door” that doesn’t work, said Egan.

This determination came with provisos that a rectangular transom, rather than a fanlight, be used in the installation of the new door; that a second option presented for the door hardware be used; and that a light fixture for the new door be approved by staff.

In another matter, the commission unanimously approved the installation of new flagpole supports at 34 Beacon St., with provisos that the supports be installed above the lintels, and that details be remanded to staff.

The commission also unanimously approved the ratification of a violation for the installation of an unapproved intercom system comprising a security screen atop a podium for a multi-story office building at 14 Beacon St., which is also home to the collection of the Congregational Library & Archives. This determination came with the provisos that the applicant work with staff to find a solution, and that the possibility of using a narrower podium base is also explored.

Likewise, the commission also unanimously voted to ratify a violation for 114 Mt. Vernon St. to replace unapproved sconces, which have already been removed, with a pendant light.

The commission voted 3-1 to deny without prejudice an application for 19 Charles River Square to remove and replace 28 original wood windows and 28 single-hung, true-divided-lite wood windows. Armata said he had determined that most of the windows were original to the building or historic and could likely be restored.

For 19 Brimmer St., the commission unanimously approved as submitted an application to replace windows at both the front and rear of the sixth-floor penthouse; to replace vinyl sliding door with wood sliding door; and to replace vinyl siding with copper or standing-seem siding at both the front and rear facades. This determination came with the provisos that  window details and shop drawings, along with details of the light fixtures on the rear elevation, be remanded to staff, among other stipulations.

The commission voted unanimously to continue an application for River House at 145 Pinckney St. to replace the balcony railings with code compliant railings to match the existing color scheme.

Additionally, the commission unanimously approved as submitted an application for 61 Mt. Vernon St. to replace the French doors in kind after staff determined that the existing doors couldn’t be preserved.

An application for 68 Pinckney St. to paint the existing front door using Benjamin Moore Louisburg Green HC-113 was also listed on the agenda, but that matter wasn’t heard by the commission due to the applicant’s failure to appear at the hearing.

Commissioners Allen, Fleck, Given, and Jackson were in attendance for the entire hearing while Commissioner Richmond was also on hand for a portion of it.

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