New Project for 137 Cottage Street

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

During the Gove Street Citizens Association’s (GSCA) monthly meeting on Monday, Apr. 24, those in attendance heard the first presentation on a proposed project at 137 Cottage Street.

The project, as presented by Chris Drew from 686 Architects, proposes to renovate the existing three-family building at the site in what Drew described as a “gut rehab – life safety upgrade.”

In addition to those renovations, there are plans to legalize living space in the basement and add a roof deck. It should be noted that Drew also explained that there would be no change to occupancy in that the building would remain three units.

“The project would be intended for homeownership, you know, condo development,” said Drew.

Regarding the zoning relief, this project would only need two variances for the rear yard and floor area ratio (FAR). In terms of the rear yard variance, that is due to existing non-conformities.

As for the FAR, Drew said, “It’s pretty much pre-existing as it is. The way that the City of Boston looks at it – it’s a zoning of 1.79, but then with the pre-finished area in the basement that was previously done – not sure when – but a while ago – including that space would bring the FAR up to about 2.38.”

“Everything else is within the zoning – it doesn’t require any variances,” he added.

Overall, there did not seem to be much concern with the project, but there were a few questions from GSCA Board Member Carlos J. Muñoz.

One of his questions concerned the roof deck and if the whole building would have access to it; however, Drew mentioned that the roof deck would only be accessible to the top-floor unit to limit the number of people on it. 

Muñoz also asked if the property being in a flood zone would affect the project’s plans to legalize the basement as living space.

In response, Drew said, “It shouldn’t, but if for some reason it’s a building code violation – it would not be allowed, and the space would have to be taken out so that it was just storage and mechanical.”

Finally, another GSCA Board Member, Chen Cao, asked if there were other roof decks on adjacent buildings and only had some concerns about the roof deck sticking out and being viewable from the street.

While Drew indicated that other adjacent buildings in the area did not have roof decks, he said, “We don’t feel like it’s out of context by any means,” and also said it is pushed back so it would not be viewable from the street.

As for the next steps for the project, this project will have to be presented once again to the GSCA before it goes up for a vote, and there is a planned virtual meeting with abutters tonight – Wednesday, May 3, at 6:00 p.m.

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