Presentation on St. James Place
Following nearly a decade of controversy, St. James’s Place project is moving forward with the construction of a four-story, 46 unit mixed-use condominium project, and they were at our May 17th meeting. We welcomed the general contractor, architect, and their environmental engineering firm.
The site is at Mass Ave and Beech Street and includes the abandoned Lechmere car wash site (next to the 1896 Firehouse), and continues behind the landmarked Richardsonian Romanesque santurary, and includes the historic (and much argued about) church garden.
The presentation started with a refresher on the design of this long-delayed project, and proceeded to an overview of the construction logistics and mitigation measures, including a summary of the environmental work.
Regardless of the past controversy, most of us agree it would be good to have this section of the Avenue transformed from the eyesore it has become.
St. James Place will look like this when completed:
Or looking at the planned project from above:
The following link, from St. James Church website, gives a lengthy history of the garden and the proposed development:
The meeting was pleasant except for the discussion about the number of affordable units to be part of the project. Because the project was approved before the required affordable percentage was raised to 20% of the units, they are grandfathered at the 10% level required prior. Of course there was a good deal of discussion around the legal requirement, but perhaps more around the belief that St. James Church should do more.
Such a view is understandable except that the financials upon which the banks and other financiers approved backing are based on the grandfathered requirement. There then followed a discussion about the fact that the units are now proposed to be rentals, not condominiums as approved prior. That apparently is something not uncommonly determined by the market (and the financiers) at the time the units are expected to come up for rental/purchase, and the city is used to that situation.
Finally, when someone insinuated that there might be more legal action, the meeting became contentious. This project has already been delayed enough (for years) by legal action. Most of us want to see the car wash and the other derelict buildings demolished and new housing units in place at that site, along with more green (and kept) space for all of us.
PSNA/Ears to the Ground
Following the St. James Place presentation we resumed our discussion of PSNA and our natural catchment area radiating out from the Shopping Center.
At the end of our meetings, time permitting, we try to have members bring “Ears to the Ground”, news or issues they have heard about or want to find out about.
Alice Wolf raised the issue of the particularly large trucks on Upland Rd. That, and an increase in traffic is a problem on many of the streets leading off of Mass Ave, Upland, Linnaean, etc. As it becomes more difficult to navigate the Avenue, and as Google Maps and Waze make it clearer where to go, we find heavier traffic on our side streets.
Very often they travel too fast and honk, madly, if someone dares to slow down or stop in front of them in order to turn into their street, slowing down there path to where?