BPDA Hosts Community Meeting on Coleridge Street Project

The developer of a large project on Coleridge Street was back before the community since taking a deferral at the Zoning Board of Appeals back in September of last year.

At a meeting last Wednesday at the Edward Brooke Charter School sponsored by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), developer Ryan Acone’s team was on hand to update residents on the project.

The project is currently under the BPDA’s Article 80 Small Project Review with a comment period that ends Friday, May 10. Commets on the project can be made to www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/the-residences-at-coleridge-coast#comment_Form.

At last week’s meeting residents in the Harbor View neighborhood of Eastie were still skeptical over the project’s size and scope.

Acone started the process in 2018. Before filing a letter of intent with the city he met with neighbors, talked with abutters, had a few brainstorming session at the Harbor View Neighborhood Association before even coming up with a proposal.

After listening for months to the community, Acone first proposed building a 26 unit condo development on a 19,000 sq. ft. vacant lot at 181 Coleridge St.

Reaction from HVNA members wasn’t good. While they liked some aspects of the project like the open space–they thought the design was too ‘boxy,’ the unit count was too high and the overall proposal didn’t fit well with the neighborhood because it blocked water views. 

So Acone and his team went back to the drawing board and worked with the community and abutters on a better design.

They reduced the number of units to 22 and completely redesigned the look of the project and after further meetings he dropped the unit count to 20 and again to 19.

Of the buildings’ design Acone removed the box building everyone complained about and implement an architectural design that was respectful of the other homes that line Coleridge Street. Because Coleridge Street is made up of a mix of A-frame and flat-roof homes, Acone and his team came up with a design that cherry-picked some of the street’s architectural elements.

The design included one larger flat-roof building and a smaller A-frame townhouse. Acone also broke up the project into two buildings to keep sight lines down to the water for neighbors across the street.

All these elements and changes were the result of months working with abutters and the HVNA.

However, HVNA voted 31 to 12 against the development with many HVNA members citing parking as the main issue. The project includes 22 proposed parking spaces.

Longtime residents of the area like Phil Brangiforte think large projects in his neighborhood threaten to destroy the fabric of the once-quiet enclave of Eastie near Constitution Beach. Already on Coleridge an eight-unit project has been erected and another 24 units is being pitched at the other end of Coleridge where it meets Short Street. Brangiforte said at last week’s meeting it is just ‘too much.’

Other’s at the meeting agreed with Brangiforte and worried the charm and family atmosphere of the neighborhood is under attack by many of these larger developments–many of which include only one or two-bedroom units.

Aside from parking what makes the project tricky is the parcel is subjected to the state’s Chapter 91 regulations, which means half the land needs to be public open space and the larger building must include space within one of the buildings for public use.

“The public accommodation space can be anything from a meeting room, to a yoga studio, to public art space,” said Acone.

The parcel is the last lot on the right before Constitution Beach and abuts Rice Street, which leads down to the East Boston Yacht Club.

Acone’s proposal would include long-term planning as it relates to sea-level rise. The project would be built above the projected sea-level rise totals and would use other climate ready and resiliency techniques to ensure the project stays dry for future generations.

The Chapter 91 public access would consist of a harbor walk in the rear of the development that would be accessible from Rice Street and the project would include a community room or some other public use space inside the larger of the two buildings.

The developer has enhanced landscaping in the back since the last meeting and after hearing from abutters, the harborwalk that will be mandated by the state under Chapter 91 will have a fence at the end to protect the adjoining properties from potential trespassers.

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