Uncommon Schools today filed formal plans with the BPDA to build a high school on Belgrade Avenue at West Roxbury Parkway that is smaller both physically and in terms of the number of students and teachers than in initial proposals.
The proposed Roxbury Prep Charter High School got a number of the neighbors riled up enough to create a neighborhood association focused mainly on blocking the school; their signs and banners have since been met by yard signs supporting the school.
The application says the new school, which would be built by razing the old Clay Automotive complex, would have room for up to 562 students - compared to as many as 860 in initial proposals - and 67 teachers and other staff members, down from the initial 80. Also, Uncommon Schools is now proposing 76 on-site parking spaces, up from the original 66.
The size of the building would be reduced from the initial 92,000 square feet to 49,950 square feet over three floors.
The filing kicks off a period of review by the BPDA - including a required public hearing, after which the BPDA board will then decide whether to approve the proposal. Because of the size reduction, Uncommon Schools will no longer have to file a detailed traffic study for the area surrounding the site, and the BPDA will not create a citizen advisory group to independently review the proposal's potential impacts on the neighborhood.
In addition to the BPDA, the project will also require the approval of the city zoning board, because the building would be about 4 1/2 feet higher than allowed under the site's zoning.
The proposed school would replace temporary high-school quarters Roxbury Prep is now leasing in Hyde Park and Roxbury.
Uncommon Schools says the reduction of the building's size means it will be able to add exterior enhancements to the site, including better entrances to the Bellevue commuter-rail stop for both students right into the school and for nearby residents who want to take the train.
The plans still rely on most students continuing to take public transit to and from the school; in addition to commuter rail, several bus lines run down Belgrade Avenue. Even before the reduction in the proposed student population, Uncommon Schools said the high school would not prove any burden on public transit because students - and teachers - would be making reverse commutes.
Among the benefits touted in the filing:
The existing commercial/ light industrial building will be replaced with a new and vibrant use that will contribute to the active streetscape of Belgrade Avenue and the surrounding neighborhood;
The cafeteria will be designed with large storefront windows to create an active and exciting building frontage, helping to create dialogue between the school and the community;
The end of Anawan Avenue will be reconfigured to improve automobile access, helping to create an active pick-up and drop-off for users of the MBTA Bellevue Commuter Rail Station;
The building will have a staff and student entrance on the northeast corner nearest to the commuter rail stop, improving oversight of the rail station and limiting the impact of arriving students and staff on the adjacent residential neighbors; and
The existing surface parking along West Roxbury Parkway will be improved with landscaping to help minimize the impact of the existing use on the Parkway.
Proposed view from West Roxbury Parkway: