BRA Keeps Border St. Units at Market Rate

July 3, 2013
By
An architectural drawing of the proposed 200-unit waterfront development project at the Boston East parcel on Border Street.

An architectural drawing of the proposed 200-unit waterfront
development project at the Boston East parcel on Border Street.

There was growing concerns among East Boston residents that the East Boston Community Development Corporation (CDC) and Trinity Financial was looking to change its original plan of a majority market rate development on the Boston East waterfront parcel to a majority affordable housing development.

However, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) quelled those rumors at Wednesday night’s community meeting and the project along Border Street will remain a majority market rate development.

The CDC recently filed a Project Development Plan (PDA) with the BRA. The CDC is requesting the approval of the DPA pursuant to Article 80 large project review by the BRA. This approval would authorize the BRA Director to petition the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to approve the plan without a further ZBA hearing.

At the meeting BRA Project Manager Casey Hines said the Public Comment period on the PDA approval request will be Monday July 15. Those comments should be submitted in writing to Casey Hines, BRA, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA 02201, or by email to casey.hines.bra@cityofboston.gov.

“The Boston East proposal basically remains the same with regard to the architecture of the building,” said CDC Executive Director Al Caldarelli. “The looks of the building, the landscaping, community access, show no real change.

Caldarelli said the concept is to build 200 units of housing with 173 at market rate rents and 27 units to meet the City of Boston’s ordinance that requires 15 percent of the units to be affordable.

“The City defines affordable as 120% of median income renters in that category would have to earn at least $90,000 to afford the rent,” he said.

ICON Architecture Inc.’s Nancy Ludwig laid out the CDC’s plan at Wednesday’s meeting and said the building will be split into two wings, placed as long, wharf-like fingers towards Boston Harbor. The architectural style of the proposed residential building has been designed to reflect a traditional East Boston waterfront massing of “fingers” that reach out and step down in height and materials to the water.

The stepped building will be up to seven stories in height. At the ground and upper floors, many units will have balconies and decks with waterfront views. The majority of the Border Street façade of the residential building will be six feet back from the sidewalk and the sidewalk area will have attractive plantings.

An archway entrance centered on the Border Street facade will have interpretive exhibits to invite pedestrians to enter and will create access to the courtyard terrace and to the waterfront from Border Street.

The Site will have up to 50,000 square feet of open space, which includes the Harborwalk and landscaped areas along the waterfront and between the wings of the building.

Aside from providing 200 units of housing the project include a community art gallery located on a portion of the ground floor.

There will also be designated space for community artist lofts to compliment the neighboring artist lofts at 80 Border Street inside the Atlantic Works building.

East Boston Chamber of Commerce President Diane Modica voiced her disappointment that there was no designated commercial space. She also commented that she would have liked to see a dock added to accommodate the future ferry system that will travel between Eastie, South Boston and Charlestown.

However, Joe Mario of Mario Real Estate said he didn’t see the need for more commercial space or ferry service given the projects proximity to Central Square and Maverick MBTA station. Mario added that the adjoining parcel set aside for water dependent use could have potential for a ‘bar/restaurant’ development to serve the influx of young professionals moving into Eastie.

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