BPDA Host Meeting on 9 Chelsea St. Updates

Last Thursday night at the Boston Planning and Development Agency hosted a meeting to discuss a few changes and some updates to the commercial development project at 9 Chelsea St.

Linear Retail plans to take the 18,795 square-foot lot that once housed the former Rapino Funeral Home in Maverick Square and construct a three story commercial retail structure with on site parking for five vehicles and a loading area.

Linear’s attorney, Richard Lynds, said his client’s proposal hopes to revitalize the site with approximately 39,000 square feet of gross floor area, with approximately 13,000 square feet being on the lower and upper two levels.

“In what will be an important project for the Maverick Square neighborhood, the building has been re-designed and modified with input from neighbors, residents and businesses of the Maverick Square community through community outreach, which has spanned three years,” said Lynds.

This process included numerous meetings held by East Boston Main Streets, the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association (JPNA) and abutters.  In addition, the proponent has engaged in discussions with the local elected delegation and has had numerous discussions with the Urban Design staff of the BPDA.

After hearing from abutters and members of the community and based on that feedback the project has been increased in size from two to three stories adding approximately 13,000 square feet of commercial space from what was originally proposed.

Lynds said that in all his years practicing zoning law he was shocked by the numerous community comments asking the developer to make the building bigger and more dense.

Also materials and architectural features have been modified to reflect an exterior that is more complimentary to the surrounding neighborhood.

The developer also agreed to pay $75,000 for the restoration of a historic Howard Clock that once stood inside the Rapino Funeral Home parking lot. The clock was destroyed several years ago during a storm. Lynds said his client will not only restore the clock but site it appropriately outside 9 Chelsea St. or somewhere else in the neighborhood if that’s what resident want.

The BPDA Project Manager Raul Duverge said the sore subject among some in the community regarding the demolition of two bow-fronts as part of the project was not the focus of last week’s meeting. 

“That process played out, the buildings were demolished and they can  not be brought back.” said Duverge.

However, that didn’t stop some of accusing the developer of ‘bulldozing’ through the process to get the two buildings down.

However, Lynds pointed that in July, only that after a lengthy public process, Linear got the greenlight from the city to demolish the two buildings.

The demolition ended a year long battle between the developer and residents. In September the Landmarks Commission placed a 90 day demolition delay on the project. The Landmarks Commission regularly grants 90 day demolition delays under Article 85 unless the commission determines there is good reason for the buildings to come down sooner. The purpose of Article 85, according to the Landmark Commission, ‘is to establish a predictable process for reviewing requests to demolish certain buildings in order to establish an appropriate waiting period during which the city and the applicant can propose and consider alternatives to the demolition of a building of historical, architectural, cultural or urban design value to the city’ as well as to ‘provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the issues regarding the demolition of a particular building.’

Then, with the demolition delay set to expire on November 20, 2017 Linear was told by the Landmarks Commission that they were in violation of Article 85. At a subsequent hearing in front of the Landmarks Commission Linear was told that the same community members trying to save the two homes had provided the commission with pictures depicting demolition work occurring at 144-146 Maverick St.

While no Landmarks Commission members went out to inspect the two Maverick Street properties they ruled Linear was in violation of Article 85 and slapped the two-year moratorium on the project. This meant that Linear could not move forward with zoning or permitting for the project until 2019.

However, in April the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted unanimously to reverse a previous Boston Landmarks Commission ruling that placed the two-year moratorium on a Maverick Street development project. The ZBA ruled that Landmarks Commission erred in its determination to impose the two-year moratorium on the project under Article 85 of the Boston Zoning Codes.

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