Developers for 30 Polk St. Appear at CPS Committee

July 18, 2013
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Developer Doug MacDonald (left) and Architect John French presented plans for the 30 Polk Street building to the Design Review Committee of the Charlestown Preservation Society on July 15.

Developer Doug MacDonald (left) and Architect John French presented plans for the 30 Polk Street building to the Design Review Committee of the Charlestown Preservation Society on July 15.

Neshamkin French Architects, Inc. presented a site plan for a proposed multi-family dwelling to the Design Review Committee of the Charlestown Preservation Society. During the July 15 hearing, members of the committee were particularly focused on maintaining the architectural character of the area and building a more unified, safe community.

Architect John French and Developer Doug MacDonald believe that this new building beside Charlestown High School will help restore a significant street in Charlestown and link the town together by providing housing for 30 families.

“Put people on the street and it becomes safe; it becomes lively,” says French.

There are 30 units in the four story building: three one-bedroom apartments (750 sq. ft.); five one-bedroom and one den apartments; and 22 two bedroom units. Rent will be $1800-$2200. Three of the apartments are affordable housing units.

“We’re trying to make a balance between the number of units, the economics, and the rents,” describes French.

The parking garage has one entrance and will include 29 on-site parking spaces. It is a transit-oriented building that is passed by the #93 bus, connecting residents to Sullivan Square Station, Haymarket, and the Charlestown Navy Yard.

There are 20 ft. between the building and the Bunker Hill Burial Ground. It is a green recreational area for residents with trees and flowers, planting beds, a locked bicycle shed, and patio with a barbeque. Tenants can also lounge on the roof deck.

The designers aspired for a quiet background building that would emulate the traditional structures in Charlestown. The first floor, which is elevated off the ground for privacy from sidewalk traffic, has a brick façade, and the above stories have lap siding. The committee agrees that it fits well with the various architectural elements of the town.

“I think it complements the area and is an opening for a lot of things,” says MacDonald, who will retain and manage the building. “I see that area changing. It needs to change.”

French and MacDonald are asking the community to allow the apartments to be built with a higher density to help make it more financially viable.  30 Polk Street has gotten much support from residents thus far, but there has been a general consensus from them that the area may be too densely concentrated, especially with school traffic.

The building does not currently comply with Boston zoning regulations and there will be further examinations into the subject to determine if it should be approved and whether the community will be in favor of it.

During the next meeting, French and MacDonald will present construction drawings. More details will be discussed with the committee including color schemes, types of windows, and an outdoor lighting plan.

“There is an opportunity to make a change here and I truly believe that,” says MacDonald, a Charlestown High graduate, emphatically.