February 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 2:00pm

MINUTES • 1868 Mass Ave • Left Turn Letter • News


Architect David Barsky presented revised plans for the project at 1868 Mass Ave and updated us on the anticipated schedule. He was joined by Curtis Butcher, General Manager of the Porter Square Hotel, and Kevin Sheehan, Director of Operations for both hotels. Operational questions should be addressed to Kevin Sheehan, 617-495-0125, kmsboston@gmail.com. After much study and deliberation, Young Construction and their investors have decided to change this project from the originally planned 27 unit residential use to a 50 room hotel, tentatively called the "Lofts Hotel". Unlike the Porter Square Hotel, which is designed for international visitors and families, this new hotel is more for business travelers. (The third hotel in the area, at the top of Oxford Street, will emphasize extended stays with cooking facilities in its 30 units.) This change of use results in a smaller building, eliminating the 5th story and thus some shadowing of abutters. Guest pickup and drop-off will be in front of the hotel along Massachusetts Avenue. The developers believe this will reduce left turns on Upland Road. However, the previously planned and already constructed underground parking facilities will remain at the rear. The building will be energy efficient but they're not going for LEED certification. The planned schedule is to get additional steel up within two weeks, with a total construction time of 12-16 months. We expressed the hope that the ground floor retail, which is unchanged, will include 24-hour food available for pickup similar to what the Gourmet Express provided; Kevin promised to look into it.


At last year's June meeting, the traffic department presented a preliminary proposal to eliminate the left turn lane through the Shapiro Plaza, instead routing cars out White Street onto Somerville Avenue and allowing a left turn from Somerville Avenue onto Massachusetts Avenue. Although other events have intervened, this plan is still on the table. We discussed a draft letter listing our concerns and asking for a comprehensive view of the area including a strong community process. The meeting agreed to delegate further editing to Susan Hunziker, with input from interested parties. The completed draft will be submitted to the voting membership of PSNA for final approval.


Elsewhere in Porter Square:

  • The condos in The Rand (old Slate Building) at 1971 Massachusetts Avenue are almost completely sold, with residents moving in in March. The ground floor retail is still looking for tenants, and the single family on Allen Street is still under construction.
  • The restaurant in the Porter Square hotel is still looking for an executive chef; it's been hard to find help at all levels. Although they are still hoping, the restaurant probably won't open until May, if then.
  • The big Saint James's / carwash project is coming back to life. All of the substantive lawsuits have apparently been dismissed and/or settled, and we have been informed that a building permit is in process. However, we have not yet heard anything directly from the church nor from Oaktree. Stay tuned.
  • The bulk (5000 square feet) of the vacant City Sports store in University Hall has been leased to Partners Health Care for a new walk-in urgent health care facility. Perhaps not ideal from our standpoint, but better than empty space. The remaining 2000 square feet are close to an agreement.