The Zoning Board of Appeal today approved City Realty's plans to put up four new buildings and renovate two others on either side of Cambridge Street at Harvard Avenue to add 344 apartments and condos and more than 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.
The $121-million Allston Square development which would include some buildings seven stories tall, would extend what has become a series of large developments and development proposals, from the New Balance complex along Guest Street to the massive Stop & Shop residential project on Everett Street.
Aerial view of proposed buildings, by Embarc; Harvard Avenue comes in from the left:
The two buildings City Realty will keep are the old Jack Young Building on Cambridge Street and Allston Hall at Braintree and Franklin streets, now home to a mural that incorporates the building's windows, including one that pays tribute to the late Mr. Butch. City Realty says it would work with local groups to move the window paintings.
The buildings will have a total of 12 artist work/live studios, including on the ground floor of the Jack Young Building - which the company agreed to keep, rather than replace, after protests from the community. The buildings will have a total of 158 parking spaces.
A remodled Jack Young building:
The mayor's office, city councilors Liz Breadon and Annissa Essaibi George and the Allston Civic Association supported the proposal, although ACA President Tony D'Isidoro said he would have preferred City Realty require that at least 70% of the condos be owner occupied, rather than the 51% it agreed to and that it made more of the units "affordable" than the 13% required by the city.
D'Isidoro also cautioned that City Realty will have to do a really good job communicating with the community over such issues as road blockages during construction, because there are so many other projects now underway in the area that Allston is facing a "perfect storm" of potential gridlock with all the construction going on at once.
The only person to speak against the proposal was Paul Creighton, who castigated the zoning board and the BPDA for allowing so much new construction in the neighborhood and who warned that if the board approves seven-story buildings, the next thing that would happen would be developers would try to put up nine-story and then taller buildings.
The board voted 5-2 for the buildings on the north side of Cambridge Street.
Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo voted against after expressing concern that the project would eliminate some of the last industrially zoned buildings in Allston, leaving residents without college degrees even fewer places to look for a decent job in the area.
She asked Lance Campbell, who oversaw the Allston Square proposal for the BPDA, what happened to the city's Back Streets program, which was supposed to help "light industrial and commercial companies grow throughout Boston's neighborhoods." Campbell replied that was really a Menino idea and that the Walsh administration has abandoned it because the city so desperately needs more housing.
Board member Nadine Fallon joined Araujo in voting against the three buildings north of Cambridge Street, but did not say why.
The board voted unanimously to approve the buildings on the south side of Cambridge.
The BPDA board voted to approved the proposal in November.
City Realty presentation on the proposal (110M PDF).
Other Allston Square documents.