The city's Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a proposed 40-unit housing development at the corner of Washington Street and Montebello Road.
The breakdown of the units in the five-story building is:
- Three studios at 540 to 610 sq. ft.
- 12 one-bedroom units at 515 to 680 sq. ft.
- 18 two-bedroom units at 680 to 985 sq. ft.
- Three two-bedroom-plus-study units at 930 sq. ft.
- Four three-bedroom units at 1,015 to 1,110 sq. ft.
The developer of the project, City Realty, is designating seven residential units as affordable housing, and has agreed to provide one of the commercial units as affordable to a local small business owner.
The project will also include 20 parking spaces through the use of an automated parking system on the ground floor.
If development proceeds as planned, construction would begin late this year or early next year.
According to Carolyn Royce, a member of the Egleston Square Neighborhood Association's Housing Committee, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Housing Committee raised issues with City Realty’s proposal because its affordability did not meet the JPNC guideline of 25 percent of units affordable to a household at 65 percent of the annual median income. They also fielded complaints about disputes, some still unresolved, from other City Realty tenants and community organizations.
Other concerns about the proposed development arose as well.
"Although people had different reasons for opposing that development (including that City Realty was the developer), to me, one important issue that may not have had anything to do with the ZBA’s decision [January 10] is simply the way that zoning variances and projects along the Washington Street corridor are going to be handled in the wake of the PLAN: JP/ROX process," said Dave Baron, an at-large Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council member.
Echoed Royce, "a major issue for the neighborhood associations in the PLAN: JP/ROX area is to have projects honor design guidelines and zoning regulations that buffer the new, higher, denser buildings when they are located next to existing one- to three-family homes." Setbacks and stepbacks of certain dimensions provide this buffer, and 3193 Washington St. did not initially meet these design guidelines, nor did it meet the existing zoning, she said.
However, in the weeks leading up to the ZBA hearing, "City Realty worked with the abutting neighbors to mitigate the impact of their project by increasing the rear set back and creating a rear step back. For this reason, the ESNA Housing Committee did not oppose the ZBA variances," Royce said.
Cliff Kensington, manager of acquisitions at City Realty, said the developer was "obviously thrilled" with the ZBA's decision.
"We have worked hard to engage with the community and incorporate their feedback throughout this approval process, from holding dozens of neighborhood meetings over the last year and a half to making design changes in response to neighbor's concerns, even after our Boston Planning and Development Agency approval all the way up until the night before our zoning board hearing," he said.
Lisa Timberlake, Director of Publicity at the city's Inspectional Services Department, told Jamaica Plain News that, once the city's plans examiner determines that the developer's submitted plans match up with those approved by the ZBA, a building permit for the project will be issued.