The owner of the building that now houses the Garage nightclub, day-care facilities and offices on Linden Street in Allston wants to tear the whole thing down and replace it with a complex of three buildings - one 14 stories tall - housing 300 apartments, 53 condos and a neighborhood cafe or shop.
Skeptical members of the Brighton Allston Improvement Association told Partners Properties, which has owned 20 Linden St. for 20 years: Whoa, not so fast. Especially with City Realty planning its own large project, including a new condo building to replace the Jack Young building at Cambridge and Linden - the neighborhood of single- and two-family homes along Pratt Street risks being overwhelmed, they said.
Johanna Schneider, attorney for the building owners, started the meeting by trying to head off the frowns. She said the area along Linden and Pratt isn't really all that great now - it's full of students and, frankly, parts are "quite unsafe." The new project represents "an exciting opportunity" to begin to reshape the area and make it as desirable as all the other parts of Allston that real-estate investors are pouring money into. She added that the plans are not cast in stone, that Partners Properties has not yet even filed a formal application with the BPDA and that the company hopes to have an extensive dialog with neighbors about what to do with the property.
David Chilinski, the architect on the project, said that among its benefits would be making Linden Street less claustrophobic: The buildings along Linden would have two large courtyards in front - with an area for Uber and Lyft drivers to pull into - which would ease what now seems like an incredibly narrow canyon. The company would also bury all of the utility cables now strung along poles on the street, providing more room for pedestrians, he said.
In addition to the 2 1/2-story office building along Linden, Partners would also tear down five houses along Pratt Street, to make way for the condo building
One resident called Schneider disingenuous for suggesting the neighborhood is in poor shape, because those five houses are part of the problem and Partners had 20 years to do something about them, but didn't. Others said the project is just too overwhelming for the existing Pratt Street, even with the company's proposal to "step down" the building heights, from 14 stories along the train tracks on the Cambridge Street side to 4 stories on Pratt.
"It really violates the character of the street," Eva Webster said.
Other residents worried about the influx of all those pedestrians pouring onto the narrow Linden Street before and after work.
And, as always, traffic was a key concern.
Partners proposed 203 garage parking spaces - one for each condo and 150 for the 300 apartments far less than what city zoning for the lot would call for. BAIA Vice President Anabela Gomes agreed the trend is towards providing less parking than required in zoning - especially in areas with a lot of public transit - but said the 0.5 ratio for apartments is just too low.
Other residents said Linden Street is already one of the most congested streets at rush hour in all of Allston and said all the cars coming out of the project's garage on Linden Street, a one-way street that ends at Cambridge Street, would only make things worse.
If Partners goes ahead with the proposal, it would file detailed plans with the BPDA, which would trigger public meetings. The project as proposed would also require approval by the zoning board.
Possible view along Pratt Street: