Open House Scheduled for 40 Warren St. Project

December 15, 2011
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Rendering of 40 Warren Street building.

Developer and 40 Warren St. owner Vahid Nickpour will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday at the property to discuss residents’ concerns and brainstorm potential solutions with community members who are affected by the project.

Following concerns from several residents that they had not been aware of meetings for the project, Nickpour asked Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeals for a deferral on a decision earlier this month.

Brian Graves, whose lives near the Warren Street property, said he first heard about the project back in April. He attended a meeting during which Nickpour detailed the size and scope of the project. Graves said he voiced significant concern at the time and that the developer said there would be subsequent meetings and more opportunities for community input.

Graves heard nothing else about the project until last month. Getting information has been difficult, he said.

“While some have tried to minimize the impact of the notification process challenges, it is actually at the core of our current state,” Graves said in an email.

“Since the developer had provided fliers for the April meeting and his group said that they would be soliciting more community feedback, I expected to see more fliers from them,” Graves said. “In retrospect, I now understand (the developer) is not legally obligated to provide notice and (it) may not be in the developer’s best interest to invite those that are opposed to the project to community meetings.”

Nickpour said he hopes to talk to as many people as he can “to see if there is any way to address some of the issues and move forward.” The project’s architect will also be present at the open house Saturday.

“A lot of residents are concerned about their views getting blocked, and the privacy issue,” Nickpour said. “That’s the whole purpose of doing this meeting – to get input from neighbors.”

Nickpour’s project would add two floors to the top of the existing building at 40 Warren St. and create 14 residential units. It would also change the façade of the building and turn part of the street level space into retail and commercial shops. Nickpour said the space would not be used for a restaurant, bar or pizza parlor but more likely for a small dress shop or offices for real estate, attorneys or accountants.

The developer is also seeking a variance for the height of the building, which zoning bylaws cap at 35 feet. The project will bring the total height of the property up to about 60 feet.

The CNC will hold a special Development Committee meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Knights of Columbus to discuss the developer’s and residents’ ideas and suggested resolutions. The ZBA hearing has been rescheduled to Jan. 24.

“What we have proposed is that the fifth of January should not be the next time (the developer and residents) have a conversation about this,” said CNC member and real estate project development committee chair Mark Rosenshein. “The best outcome is that the developer and abutters come to the meeting on the fifth with a compromise and plan.”

The next step will be for the CNC to vote and make its recommendation to the ZBA, Boston Redevelopment Authority and other agencies involved. The ZBA will make its decision as early as its Jan. 24 meeting.

“I really don’t think there’s a consensus from residents yet,” said Danielle Fitzgerald, Charlestown liaison for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services. “I’ve heard from some in support and some opposed to it. As for now, we’re interested in getting as much information as possible and getting as many people as possible to attend that meeting.”