Residents living near the intersection of Weld and Centre streets on the Roslindale/West Roxbury line this evening applauded the developer who's bought the old Weld American gas station with the idea of replacing it with condos.
But at a meeting with new owner John Sullivan and project manager Gary Martell, residents worried whether the building, which might have either 18 or 21 one- and two-bedroom residential units and one commercial unit, would mean still more people battling for the limited parking spaces along Centre Street. And the building seemed too high for a neighborhood of single-family homes and one- and two-story commercial buildings, they said.
Martell, Sullivan and architect Rick Schmidt will come back with new proposals at a meeting at 6:15 p.m. on April 22 at the District E-5 police station.
Martell said that under current zoning, Sullivan could build a 19-unit, four-story building - with 30 parking spaces, 19 on the first floor of the building - without requiring any variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. He's already secured the financing for the $5.5-million project.
But at a couple of preliminary meetings with the BRA, city designers said the proposed exterior parking lot and driveway, which would sit between the building and a commercial building on Centre didn't really fit in with "Boston Complete Streets" design goals of ensuring commercial streets with plenty of possibilities for pedestrian traffic.
Architect Rick Schmidt then came back with a proposal to put the building almost flush with the existing commercial building, push it further back from Centre to allow for trees and other potential amenities, such as bike racks and lengthen the building to allow for a 22 internal parking spaces - but none outside.
In turn, however, this would require variances from the zoning board - which would, in turn, trigger a requirement to add three affordable residential units - Schmidt said.
Residents said they doubted 22 spaces would be enough, especially in a neighborhood already short on parking. Where will guests park, they wondered.
And they objected to the 35-to-38-foot height of the proposal. Martell said 35 feet is allowed by the "neighborhood shopping district" zone in which the lot sits - and said the owners of the other commercial buildings along Centre could just as easily tear down their buildings and put up higher ones. He said that when the city rezoned the area in the 1990s, it intended to let it become denser - density can be a good thing in a city.
One issue that shouldn't come up, Martell said, is cleaning up anything left over from the gas station. He and Sullivan said the previous owner had 106 tons of potentially contaminated dirt removed from the site and that the state certified it as clean in 2007. Even still, Sullivan said he had monitoring wells installed last year just to be sure - the water tested clean, he said.
Martell added the service-station building has no asbestos or other chemicals in it.
He added he will market the building at 50-and-over empty nesters who either want to move out of larger houses or who cannot afford one. He estimated the two-bedroom units would go for $479,000.