Residents Express Concerns Over Building Project Height

At several East Boston virtual community group meetings, residents and community leaders have expressed their opposition to the Davis Companies first architectural drawings and proposal for a large scale development along the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway.

The Davis Company and East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) recently announced a partnership to redevelop a series of parcels along Breman and Orleans Streets being used for EBNHC employee parking.

On Saturday, July 11, more than 30 Eastie residents gathered on the Greenway at the Gove Street entrance to discuss the recent EBNHC/Davis Companies construction project to redevelop the four parking lots. Their concept is to build over 400 units in the parking lots once used for staff and patient parking.

However, the size, scope and scale of the development has worried Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway members and residents that some of the proposed seven-story buildings would cast a portion of the bright and sunny greenway into darkness.

“With a promised wall of seven-story high buildings, this puts the Greenway into total darkness for a very long stretch,” said Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway member Gail Miller “This is a non starter for me. Proposing 70 ft. high buildings along the Mary Ellen Greenway creating shadows and putting the greenway in shade is absolutely unacceptable.”

Eagle Hill Civic Association President and Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway member Debra Cave said when the proposal was pitched to the greenway council the board was aghast at the size of the buildings.

“We thought it was totally unacceptable at that height and scale,” said Cave.

Longtime community activist Nina Coletta said this type of her proposal was her fear once the Zoning Board of Appeals allowed 4, 5 and 6 story buildings to be approved along the greenway years ago. 

“This was my fear,” said Coletta. “Once those proposals for 4, 5 and 6 story developments along the greenway were approved by the ZBA, it opened up all of the Bremen Street Corridor to high-rise development. That creates a psychological and physical barrier to the greenway as true public open space.”

However, the Davis Companies reminded residents they have not filed any plans with the city and are basically on a listening tour and getting feedback from the community at this point.

“We are excited to be working with the Health Center in what is truly a unique partnership,” said the Davis Companies President Stephen Davis. “Together we can support those in the community who rely on the Health Center for their wellbeing while also providing much needed housing. While we have yet to file anything with the city of Boston, we look forward to working with the community to address concerns and build a project that contributes to The fabric of East Boston.”

City Councilor Lydia Edwards added that the proposal is still in the early stages of the process and she looks forward to working with residents and the development team as it moves forward to ensure that whatever is built there is accessible to Eastie residents and makes the neighborhood better.

“Because of where this proposal is located, part of making the neighborhood better will be ensuring that the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway continues to be open and welcoming to everyone and potentially improving it somehow,” she said.

Eastie resident Nat Taylor said the diverse group of neighbors who met for the first time Saturday plan to work together to build priorities for the residential development the EBNHC/Davis Companies propose. The priorities will include a focus on the project’s density, height, setbacks, design, materials, open space, parking, light, open air, and affordability. 

“We are encouraging all East Boston residents to get informed and have discussions in preparation for the Large Project Review process,” said Taylor. If you are interested, please visit the website, https://www.yourneighborhoodmatterseb.com.  Also, send your email address to [email protected]

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