New Geneva Street Project Proposed at GSCA Meeting

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

At its monthly meeting on Monday, the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) reviewed plans for a proposal that would bring multiple units to 12 Geneva Street.

The project, presented by Attorney Richard Lynds, proposes constructing a new four-story building comprised of four units intended for homeownership.

Regarding the makeup of the units, there would be one two-bedroom, which is an accessible unit, along with three three-bedroom units. Additionally, the square footage of these units ranges from a little over 1,050 square feet to 1,231 square feet.

In speaking about the bedrooms, Lynds said, “We’re trying to gear those toward — as we do more regularly here in this community — the larger-sized bedroom counts so that we’re not essentially developing something that really caters to a more transient population.”

“This is something that at least allows for a good-sized unit, could be used for starting families or larger households,” he added.

In terms of the zoning relief sought in conjunction with this project, several variances are needed under current zoning. These variances relate to minimum lot width, the side and rear yard, floor area ratio, height, open space, and parking.

However, Lynds noted during the presentation that the neighborhood could get new zoning through the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) neighborhood planning initiative PLAN: East Boston.

This means that some of the aspects of the project that require a variance under current zoning could actually end up complying with the proposed zoning through PLAN: East Boston.

Other aspects of the project include the proposal containing zero parking spaces and plans for a roof deck exclusive to the fourth unit.

When a discussion about the proposal opened up, the first concern brought up by an attendee was the parking.

“There’s proposed on this 11 bedrooms. Historically, what we’ve seen, there’s about one car per bedroom for people who are buying at these price levels, and I don’t necessarily think the neighborhood can really accommodate those 11 extra cars.” said the attendee.

Lynds responded, explaining that parking options on the lower level were explored and, at best, two or three parking spaces could be included.

“While I understand the comment about the parking, we do feel that we explored both options, and the use of the space for an accessible unit we feel makes a lot more sense overall and aligns pretty much where the city is going with new developments,” said Lynds

“We’re going to take a chance in asking for the relief for the parking on this one,” he added.

Another attendee asked about the state of zoning. In part, Lynds described the state of zoning as being in limbo.

“The way it works right now is, I need to appeal the determination of inspectional services based upon the current zoning because we filed for this permit before any zoning change is going to happen. However, it’s important that we overlay where the zoning is going because that is the guidance that the Boston Planning and Development Agency will give to the zoning board,” he said.

“We technically still require relief, but it is consistent with or largely consistent with the direction for new zoning for the area.”

As the discussion continued, an attendee complimented the proposal, and there was a conversation about the rear setback as it relates to the neighborhood context.

Concerning the next steps, since this was the first presentation of the project to the GSCA, it would need to be presented again for a vote to be held. The GSCA is not scheduled to meet in December but will reconvene on January 22.

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