The latest plans for the residential project proposed for behind Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in the Fenway were discussed a city-sponsored joint-Impact Advisory Group (IAG) and public meeting held virtually on Wednesday, July 26.
Transom Real Estate intends to construct a pair of seven-story residential buildings in the rear of the parking lot for the cathedral at 165 Park Drive, across from the Back Bay Fens. Together, the buildings will include a total of 115 dwelling units, including 48 units, which are 100 percent-affordable home-ownership opportunities, in the first building and an additional 67 market-rate units in the second building. Provisions for 46 parking spaces are also included as part of the project, which is being subsidized by a significant contribution from developer Samuels & Associates. A bike storage room, with a rack for each resident, would also be located in one of the buildings.
“The buildings themselves haven’t changed in any material ways in terms of their footprint,” said Peter Spellios, a principal with Transom, of the most-recent iteration of the proposal.
One of the buildings now has a “kind-of-a-sawtooth design” that allows it to run parallel to Kilmarnock Street, however, he said, and it’s pulled back to make it “more in line with the cathedral.”
Also, the entryway off Kilmarnock Street has been reconfigured as the exact location of a curb-cut has been reduced in size and moved closer to Park Drive to “allow the pedestrian experience” on the residential side of the site. This will then bring pedestrians off Kilmarnock Street and take them away from the church side of the property, he added.
“We’ll continue these dialogues with [Boston Civic Design Commission] and with urban design staff,” said Spellios. “This conversation continues all the way to building permit and even post-building permit.” (The project team was scheduled to go before BCDC at the commission’s virtual meeting on Aug. 1.)
The grade change for the ramp between Kilmarnock Street and the drop-off area between two buildings would exceed 5 percent, said Spellios, so handrails would be required on both sides of the ramp by the city. This will also open up a “tree-planting zone” that would allow opportunities to “plant some really significant trees,” he added.
Existing parking spaces in front of the two buildings that were kept in the first iteration of the plan have been eliminated, although 30 parking spaces on the first floor of one of the buildings would be available to not only residents but also for the church’s use. The drop-off area patterns in front of the building have also been reconfigured, said Spellios.
Two short-term parking spaces in front of the buildings would be created to facilitate drop-offs, he said, while a plaza has been maintained in front of the buildings. Greenspace has also been increased on the project site.
Both buildings would have roofdecks, said Spellios, although the details for this amenity have yet to be finalized.
IAG member Pam Beale said the refined project “looks great,” and commended the project team on “all the work you’ve done helps it fit” the site, as well as on the lighting options shown in the renderings.
“It’s a brilliant collaboration,” said Beale. “It’s the right group of people – well intended, and all trying to do the right thing, and rowing in the same direction. It’s really an example that I hope other people will follow.”
Likewise, IAG member Freddie Veikley called the project “fantastic,” particularly in regard to the home-ownership opportunities it will provide, along with the partnership with the church on the project.
“The church has driven this from Day One in terms of what they want programmatically,” replied Spellios.
Meanwhile, the project, meanwhile, isn’t expected to break ground until the third quarter of 2024 at best, said Spellios, but called even that timeline “generous.”
The Boston Planning & Development Agency’s public-comment period for the project closed Aug. 2.