BPDA Hosts Community Meeting on Saratoga Street Project

November 2, 2018
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After nearly a dozen community meetings, abutters’ meetings and making several changes to the project to address community concerns the community voted against MG2’s large development project on Saratoga Street a few months back.

This sent the developer back to drawing board to make further tweaks to the size and scope of the project at 656 Saratoga St.

On Monday night during a Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) meeting at the Salesian Boys & Girls Club MG2 announced further changes to the project.

Developer MG2 plans to develop the 16,500 sq. ft. vacant lot at 656 Saratoga St. into market rate rental housing by combing six parcels on the lot into one developable parcel.

The original plan would have MG2 erect a five story, 50 ft.tall building. The building would have included 62 units with a mix of studio, one and two-bedroom units and retail opportunity on the ground floor. A later 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 and eliminated the retail component.

However, 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. MG2 then lowered the building to four stories and 40 units with 30 parking spaces. This plan was rejected by members of the Harbor View Neighborhood Association (HVNA) at a meeting a few months back.

At Monday night’s HVNA meeting MG2’s attorney, Richard Lynds, said his client has reduced the number of units to 30 and knocked an entire floor off the building, bringing the height down to just under 32 ft.  at three stories.

“This is more in line with the triple deckers that one may see along Saratoga Street,” said Lynds. “This addresses many of the comments and concerns over the height. At 31.8 ft in height the building would be below 35 ft. zoning code.”

The entrance to the building’s parking has been moved around the block to Chaucer Street after residents 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.

Variances MG2 would be seeking from the Zoning Board of Appeals will include Use, Floor Area Ratio or FAR, Open Space and Parking. The developer would also need a variance for Height. While up to 35 ft. is allowed in the area and the building is under this threshold, zoning does not allow for buildings to be over two and half stories.

While most residents seemed to be pleased with the changes some still expressed concerns over the building’s massing and asked the development team if there was anyway to break up the building or incorporate architectural details to make it look less ‘boxy’.

The public comment period for the project will end on Friday, Nov. 2. Comments can be sent to www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/656-saratoga-street#comment_Form.