The Board of Appeal today unanimously approved variances needed for construction of a three-to-four-story apartment building off Walk Hill and Canterbury streets that will include a neighborhood shuttle bus to the Forest Hills T stop and money to help middle-income people buy homes in Roslindale and Mattapan.
The $32-million Walk Hill Residences, which would replace an existing floral shop, restaurant space and single-family home, will include 106 apartments - 12 affordable - and 147 parking spaces, most in an underground garage.
Developers Nabil Boghos, Charles Gill and Michael Biszko will put $410,000 in a Department of Neighborhood Development fund specifically for helping middle-income people buy homes in Roslindale and Mattapan and $50,000 into a city fund aimed at installing street measures to slow traffic. They will also work with the city to change the light sequences at the intersection of Walk Hill and American Legion and clean up and preserve the brook that runs along American Legion.
The mayor's office and City Councilor Michael Flaherty supported the project, which is roughly 30% smaller than the one originally proposed for the site.
The BPDA approved the proposal earlier this month.
Richard Heath, a Jamaica Plain resident who participated in a BPDA review of the project, praised the developers for both shrinking the overall size and working to increase the number of rental units in a part of the city that needs them.
But city councilors Andrea Campbell (Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale) and Anissa Essaibi-George (at large) joined with nearby residents who opposed the project.
Rick Yoder, co-chair of the Mt. Hope/Canterbury Neighborhood Association, said the number of parking spaces is simply too low in a neighborhood where people are forced to own cars because the public transportation is so poor, and predicted many of the building's residents will try to park on nearby streets.
He said he was also concerned that the developers would continue to maintain the green space along American Legion Highway, which he said is officially a parkway, not a highway.
Other residents said building remains too massive for a neighborhood of single-family, duplex and triple-decker buildings.
Faith Girdler said that the building would tower over nearby trees. She paraphrased Joyce Kilmer: "I'm sure I will never see, a condo park, as lovely as a tree."
Eugenie Williams said a large apartment building violates BPDA planning guidelines that call for new structures to be "compatible" with their surrounding neighborhood.