Despite meeting with residents and several community groups who expressed concern over the scale and scope of a proposed project on Bremen Street, the Davis Companies filed a Letter of Intent with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) last week calling for the construction of 471 units of housing on a series of parking lots owned by the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC).
The Davis Company and EBNHC recently announced a partnership to redevelop four parcels along Breman and Orleans Streets used for Health Center employee parking into a mixed-use development. The four parcels of land are located at 75-115 Bremen Street, 135B Bremen Street, 147-163 Orleans Street, and 164 Orleans Street, respectively.
According to the Letter of Intent submitted to the BPDA the project consists of 471 residential units, of which approximately 451 are expected to be rental units and approximately 20 are expected to be condominium townhomes at the 75-115 Bremen Street parcel. The project will also include the creation of a total of approximately 172 parking spaces at the ground level or belowground at each building. The proposal also calls for approximately 4,400 of ground floor retail space in two of the buildings at 135 Bremen Street and 164 Orleans Street intended to “attract independent entrepreneurs”.
At several East Boston virtual community group meetings over the summer, residents and community leaders expressed their opposition to the Davis Companies first architectural drawings for the large-scale development, which abuts the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway.
The size, scope and scale of the development worried Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway members and residents that 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.”
Over the summer 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.
In their filing with the BPDA, the Davis Companies said three of the four proposed buildings located closest to the Mary Ellen Welsh Greenway are designed to step back away from the Greenway. These buildings will range in height from three to four stories to seven stories.
However, in his letter to the BPDA the Davis Companies Managing Director and Chief Development Officer Michael Cantalupa said an important element of the project will be the redesign and reconstruction of the Gove Street plaza between the 75-115 Bremen Street and 135B Bremen Street buildings to include enhanced landscaped improvements, more seating opportunities for the public, and a more enjoyable public space. This element aims to enhance the adjacent Mary Ellen Welch Greenway.
“The plaza currently comprises about 16,500 square feet of paved and landscaped area, and the project will include approximately 2,560 square feet of additional plaza area, including benched seating for the public to enjoy,” wrote Cantalupa. “An additional element of the project is the creation of a “tabletop” at the intersection of Gove and Bremen Streets adjacent to the newly improved Gove Street plaza, to enhance pedestrian safety and connectivity in the area.”