3200 Washington Street as proposed. Looking south. Credit: 3190 Washington St. LLC
A three-man development team plans to build the largest housing development in the history of Egleston Square; a community it describes as "a vibrant [one] that owes its vibrant identity to its diversity to ethnic, racial, age and economic patterns."
3190 Washington Street LLC, managed by Justin Iantosca with partners Paul Iantosca and Dan Mangiacotti, has acquired the 3/4 acre that includes Economy Plumbing and E+J Auto at Washington Street, Montebello and Iffley Roads. A three building, $20 million, 76 unit development is proposed, to include two 5-to-6 story buildings facing Washington Street. The project goes by the name "3200 Washington St."
The development was discussed Wednesday evening at the first Boston Redevelopment Authority- sponsored public hearing. This was the first Large Project Review public meeting as mandated by Article 80 of the zoning code.
Despite what the team described that evening as an opportunity to showcase its modified plans based on ten community meetings starting in July 2014, there were mixed reactions at the crowded public meeting.
"I would hate to think," said longtime resident Alvin Shiggs, "that we were exchanging one ghetto for another...that we will build a white middle class ghetto [on the backs of] people who have lived here a very long time and [now] cannot afford to live here."
Carolyn Royce welcomed the packed house of over 80 people on behalf of the sponsors Egleston Square Neighborhood Association (ESNA), Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp. and Egleston Square Main Streets. She explained it was a combined Impact Advisory Group and public meeting. The BRA had formed the IAG based on recommendations from elected officials to advise the agency on this proposal. The IAG members - about half of whom were present - are Luis Cotto of Egleston Square Main Streets, Chilcott Place resident Sue Pranger, Michael Iceland, Germa Belay, Ron Hafer, Liz Matos, Jose de la Rosa, Stephen Lussier (a broker with Arborview Realty), Kate Peppard, Pablo Calderon, Galen Nelson and Greg Mumford.
Attorney Joseph Hanley introduced developers Justin Iantosca and Dan Mangiacotti. Hanley, who spoke on behalf of the development team the entire meeting, said that there had been ten community meetings beginning with a "big presentation" on July 13, 2014 to ESNA. He said the Project Notification Form (PNF) filed with the BRA on Monday was a modification of the first plans based on these community meetings. The "extensive preliminary community outreach" included meetings with ESNA, Egleston Square Main Streets, Parkside-Montebello Neighborhood Association, Chilcott Place- Grenada Park Association, the JP Neighborhood Council Housing Committee and the Washington Street Business Group.
'A very special vibe'
Kevin Deabler, principle of the architectural firm RODE, described 3200 Washington Street as a "rare opportunity to work in such a vibrant neighborhood... [ there is ] a very special vibe off this area...this project will announce Egleston Square as a great place to live work and play." (The PNF states that "3200 Washington Street is conceived as a catalyst for the revitalization of Egleston Square. [It will be] among the first developments in Egleston Square that will influence its future growth.) He introduced the project architect, Andres Bernal.
Deabler described the site as "challenging," with a dramatic drop of thirty feet from the back of the site to Washington Street and that half the site is rocky ledge. He described the city-owned open space at 52 Montebello Road - which the developers have submitted a bid to buy - as a "critical part of the development" because it can be part of the planned open courtyard behind the two tall buildings.
The site is three parcels assessed at $934,300.
Deabler described the site as on the edge of a residential neighborhood between residential and mixed use commercial . He described Egleston Square as starting at the "four fingers" of Columbus and Washington Street and extending to the "unique intersection" he called "Montebello Crossing" as it meets the nose of Forest Hills Street.
The Montebello-Washington corner is significant to 3200 Washington Street. The architects plan a ground floor, walk-to restaurant that will "enliven the corner" with outdoor seating. A restaurant would be built out at that corner front but no one has signed a lease.
Up to six stories high
Deabler said that the development would have three buildings, with the two facing Washington Street at five to six stories.
Building A, at Montebello Road, would be five stories with a set-back of six stories and have 34 units. Building B, at Iffley Road, would be 6 stories and have 39 units. This building would have to step down to line up with three story town houses on Iffley Road that will replace the garages. The Washington Street buildings will not be a solid mass but instead have a broken facade of alternating masses with differing materials and a low building to connect the two.
There will be 36 on-site parking spaces including a structured ground floor parking facility.
Buildings A and B would be rental. The row houses would be for sale. Sixty three percent of the apartments would be two- and three-bedrooms. There would be 17 studio and 11 single bedroom apartments.
Sale prices of the row houses were not discussed. Arborview Realty is currently marketing eight new condominiums on Ophir Street opposite Brookside Health Center. These two- and three-bedroom homes are being offered for $529,000 to $629,000, which may suggest the Iffley Road rowhouse prices.
'In a panic about the scale'
Rents and density were on everyone's mind as Royce opened the floor to IAG members for the first half of the meeting. Belay implored the development team to work out the "contradiction" between the number of units and rental costs. He asked that ways be "somehow" found to keep the rents affordable and keep the neighborhood scale.
"I am in a panic about the scale," said another IAG member. "It's intimidating. We live in small woodframe houses."
Hanley said the development team "exceeded" the city's requirement that units be offered at 80 percent area median income. "We're offering 11 units at 65 percent AMI; a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars."
That'd be $63,000 a year for a family of four, according to Tim Reardon of ESNA.
"That's very very expensive." said the IAG member. "That means displacement...Up to now this neighborhood has been very diverse."
Hanley said that the development team is seeking to buy 52 Montebello and "work with non profits' to add six additional affordable units. He said the team put in a letter of interest to the city's Department of Neighborhood Development in December.
"So we will have 17 affordable units," said Hanley. "That would boost the affordability percentage to 20.6 percent."
Royce said that 52 Montebello was not part of the present Article 80 review.
Hanley said that in addition, 3200 Washington LLC is negotiating to buy 1891 Columbus Ave to relocate E+J Auto. E+ J Auto rents its space and will presumably rent the new location at the corner of Columbus and Bancroft Street. (Whether E +J Auto will rent its new space has not been confirmed by Joseph Hanley who did not return the News email by deadline).
A nearby resident wasn't impressed.
"Affordability is kind of a joke," said Riva Levine of 14 Forest Hills St. "I'm offended at the scale of this project. It's way too big for this community. Make it the scale of a triple decker. This is nothing but a project for wealthy white people."
One person added "Affordablity? This requirement (80 percent AMI) is more than anyone can afford. Can't the city requirement be changed to fit local standards?"
Marie Turley said that "abuttors on the small streets will be disproportionately affected by this development. It's too big for this spot. There's is nowhere to build on Moss Hill, nothing on Pondside...so ( developers) are moving here. She urged the team to "keep the unique quality of Washington Street."
Reardon wanted to keep the density. He said that "adding [housing] supply is fundamental to mitigating the lack of housing stock" in Boston.
"The mayor reports that the city will need 53,000 new housing units," Reardon said.
He said that a family of four earning $63,000 "cannot afford to buy a home in Boston" without that affordability requirement.
'The face of Washington Street is changing'
Not everyone was opposed. One resident read a letter from her Iffley Road neighbor who was enthusiastic about the development and what it will bring to the area. Amy Tyson of Boylston Street said it will "make Washington Street better and more wonderful."
Brookline resident Monty Gold, said he owned property "diagonally across from this development and I think it will be a positive improvement. (Gold owns the 3203-3213 Washington Street storefronts anchored by Video Underground).
Concluded one IAG member, "Make no mistake about it, the face of Washington Street is changing; it's a major boulevard."
Ed McGuire, BRA project manager, said that another community meeting has been scheduled for March 19 to work out some of the "questions and concerns raised here tonight. This is the beginning of the final process not the end."
For more information please visit the BRA's page for 3200 Wasington St. You can download details about the project including the letter of intent and the 285-page "project notification form."
[Editor's note: The original post has been updated to reflect that Arborview Realty, which was founded by Paul Iantosca, is not the developer on 3200 Washington St. Also, we have clarified that Arborview is only marketing the condos on Ophir Street. The development cost has also been updated with new information from the developers.]