Hood Park Rolls Out New Configuration of Buildings, Open Space in Filing

Hood Park filed its amended Master Plan last Friday with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA),

A view of the northern side of the Hood Park new Master Plan submission, highlighting the new 50,000 sq. ft. village green open space and the tallest buildings proposed in the plan. The area is now vacant buildings and large parking lots. Hood filed is new Master Plan on Friday and will begin a robust community process this fall.

and there are several changes to what was previously discussed – including a larger village green, larger buildings moved to the back of the site and a unique retail feature fronting Rutherford Avenue with a park on top of it.

“Today we filed our plans for the future of Hood Park,” said Chris Kaneb, owner of Hood Park. “We have been working extensively with the community as we have updated this plan, and look forward to continuing to engage with Charlestown throughout the formal process that starts today. Investment in Hood Park is good for everyone: it will create jobs, improve infrastructure, promote links to transit, expand community and green space as well as increase much-needed affordable housing in Charlestown.”

While the changes were officially filed Friday, a meeting on Wednesday night, Sept. 12, at Mishawum Community Center served to unveil the plans to members of the community.

Mark Rosenshein, of Trademark Partners, explained the majority of the changes to those in the audience, as well as the Article 80 City process that has now been triggered with Friday’s filing. That meeting, however, came after several charrettes were planned throughout the spring and summer to find out what the community wanted. Hood has been looking to amend their Master Plan, which was approved in 2000, to reflect less of a sprawling suburban office park, and incorporate more open spaces and taller buildings.

One of the key issues has been height of the buildings, and that likely will not change.

The tallest building is now in the rear of the site on the north end, and it will be a 295-foot tower containing office/lab space and residential space. In front of it will be a 171-foot hotel and residential building and that will all be fronted by 50,000 sq. ft. of open space, which is 25 percent larger than City Square Park. All of those spaces now are vacant buildings or parking lots. One new thing about the open space is that there will be several one-story retail buildings (12,000 sq. ft.) fronting Rutherford Avenue, and the open space green area will go on top of them, actually creating a roof that is also a park.

“Everything we are going to propose between Rutherford Avenue and the buildings will all be 75-feet or under,” he said. “The conversation we want to have about height is the spaces closer to the highway…We are suggesting a trade of height for more open space.”

Behind the existing Hood Park building that houses Cambridge College, Indigo and other tenants would be a 232-foot office/lab space that is 12-stories tall and 365,000 sq. ft. That building, which has been discussed before, will be the new world headquarters of Indigo, which is an agricultural technology company.

Rosenshein said with the Indigo headquarters, they have moved it over to create an amphitheatre area next to the already-approved 900-car parking garage.

This, he said, would create open space earlier in the phases of the project, and would also create better sight lines from Baldwin Street through the project.

That building would be part of phase 2A of development, and that’s because Indigo really wants to stay at Hood. Phase 1 is already underway with the residential building that is now under construction and the 900-car parking garage behind it on the south side of the site.

“Ten Stack Street will be Indigo’s corporate headquarters,” he said. “That’s all about them coming to us and saying how fast can we get the space up. They have expanded their operations in Memphis because they have space in Memphis. We would rather they expand in Charlestown.”

He said that building would be the first part of the new development, if approved, and would start the day after they finish the parking garage – likely next July or August.

One thing that would accomplish is getting open space to the community earlier in the project. Due to the phasing, the taller buildings and the open space on the north side of the site wouldn’t emerge for another 10 years. Rosenshein said they plan to develop the Indigo building, and then another eight-story office/lab building next to it in Phase 2a and 2b. That would happen relatively quickly. Then, he said, they would wait for several years until the City finishes its reconfiguration of Rutherford Avenue. Once that is done, that would unlock Phase 3, which is the taller buildings and open space.

The new plan, however, would bring an amphitheatre open space to the project as part of the Indigo headquarters.

“One thing we heard was that all of the development would come fast and all of the amenities like the open space wouldn’t show up for a decade or so,” he said. “We heard that feedback and have now included new open space in each phase. With each phase, the open space gets bigger and better.”

Another notable change is the rotating of the buildings so that the community doesn’t feel walled off.

“One thing I heard from the community this summer was they don’t want to feel walled off by the development,” he said. “If you look at the Partners building, that’s a wall. What we’ve done is rotated the buildings so the community in Charlestown is looking at the side, which allows for better sight lines and makes for a narrower edge from the community’s perspective.”

The parking spaces, with more than 1,700 proposed and already on site, will be retained but will be moved and dispersed throughout the new buildings.

The project is expected to have official City meetings through October and November, and Rosenshein said they hope to have their approvals done by March.

In addition to those meetings, Hood is sponsoring five special, topic oriented meetings throughout the next several months. Those will be on:

  • Zoning/height/phasing
  • Traffic/Parking/Transportation
  • Open Space/Public realm
  • Neighborhood connectivity/retail
  • Architecture/sustainability

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