By Michael Coughlin Jr.
During its meeting on October 12, the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) Board of Directors approved a project at 2 Shawsheen Road that will supply the neighborhood with affordable units and open space.
Specifically, the project will bring a total of 57 units, all of which are affordable through the construction of two buildings. One building will comprise 35 rental units, while the other will feature 22 homeownership units.
Further, the rental building will feature 14 parking spaces, while the homeownership building will contain 22 parking spaces.
In terms of height, Sharon Gentges of Joy Street Design explained during the board meeting that an approach has been taken to keep massing lower next to the neighborhood.
“When you’re viewing the buildings from the street, Barnes Avenue, you really are not going to see the taller portions unless you get further away,” said Gentges.
Concerning the unit makeup for the project, of the 22 homeownership units, nine will be two-bedrooms, 11 will be three-bedrooms, and two will be four-bedrooms, targeted at 70% to 100% of area median income (AMI).
As for the 35 rental units, the plan is for 10 one-bedrooms, 13 two-bedrooms, 10 three-bedrooms, and two four-bedrooms, targeted at 0% to 60% of AMI.
Other aspects of the project to note include its open space commitments. According to a BPDA press release, the space between the two buildings is being preserved for the Winthrop Greenway.
The press release described the greenway as a “shared-use path that will connect the Orient Heights Station, the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway, and the town of Winthrop.”
However, it should be noted that before the future Winthrop Greenway, the press release acknowledges that the space will contain a pedestrian path, benches, and lawn for residents.
The project also has a resiliency plan that includes lifting each building’s first floor two feet above the design flood elevation.
Also, the homeownership building, which is in the flood plain, will contain a two-and-a-half-foot floodable space under the building.
“When there is a flooding event, the water can come in and then go back out, and water is not going to be displaced onto the neighboring properties,” said Gentges.
Following the presentation, some board members, such as Brian Miller, were complimentary of the project.
“It’s certainly a nice transformation from the existing condition, so nice job there,” said Miller.
The board’s Chair, Priscilla Rojas, also complimented the project, citing the affordability income levels, specifically the 0% to 60% range proposed.
“It’s not often that we get to see kind of that 0 to like 30, 40 area of AMI, getting to really just see a lot of housing coming in at that area; we do have a need, so I just want to commend the developer,” said Rojas.
While the board was complimentary of the project, it should be noted that according to the Orient Heights Neighborhood Council’s (OHNC) Facebook page, the group opposed this project in a vote of 37 to 4, with six abstaining.
In the end, despite opposition from those in the OHNC, the BPDA Board unanimously voted to approve the project.