HVNA Votes Down Saratoga Street Project

After nearly a dozen community and abutters’ meetings and making several changes to the project to address community concerns the Harbor View Neighborhood Association (HVNA) still voted 38-1 against MG2’s large development project on Saratoga Street Monday night.

Developer MG2 plans to develop the 16,500 sq. ft. vacant lot at 656 Saratoga St. into market-rate rental housing with five affordable units.

The plan is to combine the six parcels on the lot into one developable parcel and erect a four story, 45-foot-tall building. The building would include 40 units plus 30 parking spaces within the structure.

Since the last time MG2 presented the proposal, the developer has made several changes to the project. The original project called for 62 units of residential housing and would have been a mix of studio, one and two-bedroom units. The scaled down version then called for 43 units of market-rate rentals that would be a mix of studio, one and two-bedroom units and 39 parking spaces.

The community still felt at five stories and over 50 ft. tall the building was uncharacteristic of the surrounding neighborhood and sent MG2 back to the drawing board.

At Monday night’s HVNA meeting MG2’s attorney, Richard Lynds, said his client has reduced the number of units to 40 and knocked an entire floor off the building, bringing the height down to just under 45 feet.

The developer also eliminated a cafe concept from the ground floor of the project after residents and abutters expressed their opposition to adding a commercial space to the development. Residents in the area feared it would lead to more traffic and parking headaches on the congested street.

Also, the entrance to the building’s parking has been moved around the block to Chaucer Street after resident objected to a curb cut and vehicles entering and exiting a garage on Saratoga Street. MG2 also added more landscaped buffers between the proposed building and abutting homes.

However, longtime residents like Michael McCormick pleaded with HVNA members to oppose the project. McCormick, who lives across the street from the proposal said a project of this size would ruin the ‘quality of life’ in the neighborhood.

McCormick, who has been very vocal about his opposition to the plan, also accused Lynds of not listening to abutters when coming up with a final design.

Lynds shot back that many of the concessions his client made were a direct result of listening to McCormick’s concerns.

“We eliminated the retail on the first floor per your request,” said Lynds. “We also lowered the height of the building, reduced the number of units, moved the entrance to the garage to Chaucer Street because you (McCormick) asked us to. Give and take is very important, and we need to come up with a proposal that works for both the developer and the community.”

Another resident said while he wasn’t against development, he thought the proposal was far too big for the street and said a development on this lot should ‘enhance’ the neighborhood and asked the architect to come up with a design that speaks to the community.

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