The meeting was not quite as boisterous as past sessions. But at the one hearing the BRA was required to hold, residents of Lagrange Street and nearby side streets told landlord Michael Argiros they still can't stomach his proposal for apartments on Lagrange just off Centre because it's too big.
Argiros's current proposal calls for replacing the burned out and water-damaged asthma-inhaler plant with 48 apartments in a three-story building and 81 parking spaces - a proposal his team developed after residents screamed bloody murder about his original plans for 62 apartments in a four-story building and 52 parking spaces.
Argiros is also aiming the apartments at the sort of young professionals who want "very high-end" apartments with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances - with one-bedroom, 800-square-foot units starting at about $2,400 a month. Six of the units will be rented to people making no more than 70% of the area median income, as required by the BRA.
Residents said the project was still too large for what they said was a Lagrange Street already overburdened by traffic, with on-street parking spaces scooped up by people from other parts of West Roxbury who get neighborhood parking permits just so they can park near the Needham Line train station for free rather than paying to park in the station's lot.
One resident said Argiros should simply replace the current hulking ruin with a parking lot.
"If I had known this was going in, I would have moved someplace else," one resident said. A man who'd moved to the area from Charlestown, who expressed similar sentiments, said Argiros's tenants would make it even harder for other residents to get their kids into the local elementary schools and would further burden police and firefighters. Another resident told Argiros: "You wouldn't want this in your neighborhood in Westwood; no one wants this here." And one said the proposed building looked like it belonged in the Back Bay, not West Roxbury.
One resident questioned why Argiros insisted on building apartments rather than condos, whose residents would have more of a stake in the neighborhood. Argiros declined to answer, although in the past he has said he wants to put up the building to provide a long-term source of income for his sons.
Not everybody opposed the project. A tenant of Belgrade Place - an apartment building near Roche Bros. - objected to the denigration of apartment dwellers. "I'm not bringing down West Roxbury" - and neither are the doctors, nurses and retired people who live also live there - she said.
Argiros's traffic engineer said the building would have minimal impact on traffic. Still, Argiros said he has talked to BTD about adding left-turn signals for people seeking to turn from Lagrange onto Centre - and that he could ask BTD to limit parking to two hours in front of his building and the cemetery on Centre to try to limit non-locals from parking there to use the train station. When residents said that would just push these boors further up the street, Argiros said there's a limit to how much he can do; "I can't be the parking police for all of the neighborhood."
Residents have until the end of the month to file comments with the BRA. Ultimately, the BRA will decide whether to approve the project, after which Argiros will have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals.
425 Lagrange small-project-review application (4M PDF).