After an enormous nine-alarm fire in March 2019, the family that owned the New England Casket Company at 1141 Bennington Street for generations made the painful decision not to rebuild.
Now, Louis Tobia Jr., whose Italian grandfather founded the casket company 75 years ago, and his family are proposing to construct a transit-oriented residential development with 221 new rental housing units and 1,144 square feet of retail space on the 50,664 square foot site.
Tobia has already filed a Letter of Intent and Project Notification Form with the Boston Planning and Development Agency. The BPDA has put together an Impact Advisory Group and will host the first of many public meetings next week.
On Wednesday, Sept. 22 residents will get the first glimpse of Tobia’s plans as the project moves through both the community and BPDA Article 80 process.
Residents can register for the virtual meeting at https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_6GqgYW8aRRqnqWS6SRDuuA. The meeting’s Webinar ID is 160 883 4793 or residents can call into the meeting over the phone at 833-568-8864.
According to the family’s filing with the BPDA, aside from constructing 221 units and retail space the proponent also proposes 121 parking spaces and improvements to the public realm–including Belle Isle Marsh.
“The Project has been carefully designed to relate to the urban transit corridor and streetscape along Bennington Street, as well as the natural beauty of the Belle Isle Marsh,” the family wrote in their PNF. “The proposed design thoughtfully enhances the Bennington Street streetscape while connecting it to the Belle Isle Marsh through an accessible pathway and reimagined public realm at the intersection of Bennington Street and Palermo Street. Main floor uses include a mix of residential units, lobby space, amenities, and retail. Approximately 121 parking spaces will be provided in a structured parking garage level, which is accessed from Austin Avenue.”
Tobia said approximately 38 percent of the site will consist of public open space, creating more than 31,000 square feet of improved area around Belle Isle Marsh for the public and residents to enjoy/
“The Project will also improve more than 33,000 sf of off-site area along Bennington Street, Austin Avenue, and Palermo Street, as well as the upland edge of the Belle Isle Marsh,” the filing reads. “Austin Avenue will also be transformed to create a meaningful pedestrian and bicycle connection from Bennington Street to the Project and the adjacent Belle Isle Marsh.”
Before the fire destroyed the company’s manufacturing plant just past Orient Heights MBTA station the Tobia Family’s major clients were Jewish Orthodox families as well as many celebrities and won numerous awards in the industry for its innovation and casket designs.
The company catered to high profile clients and designed caskets for Muhammed Ali, John McCain, Heath Ledger, Walter Cronkite, Joan Rivers and Tip O’Neill to name a few.
The Tobia Family will team up with Redgate, a downtown developer, to build a residential complex in two seperate, six-story buildings at 1141 Bennington St.