Hood Park Wrapping up Community Meetings

As the Hood Park community review comes to a close in the next few weeks, developers for the project are focusing on the new office building at Stack Street and the signature piece of proposed mitigation, the Kid Lab science center.

The Hood Park has had several public meetings over the last several months on a variety of topics – including transportation, design, environmental aspects and mitigation. The Hood Park project has been put on the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) agenda for a March 14 vote before its Board.

In the time since January, the proposal has taken a decidedly focused view on the 10 Stack St. building – a 230-foot office building being built mostly for the Indigo company that already leases space at Hood and wants to expand.

Mark Rosenshein, of Trademark Partners, said that’s because that building is the one that is most imminent, and while there are buildings proposed for the future that are bigger, Stack Street could break ground this year.

“We did start to focus on that building more,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that though we have a Master Plan, the point of it all is to build 10 Stack St. no later than the summer of this year. That’s the present change at Hood Park…Part of the PDA meeting on Jan. 31 was to show folks exactly what is in the development plan at 10 Stack St. That’s what is really going to be built soon, we hope. We have certainly focused on that building. We need that space. We are 100 percent leased up at Hood Park. We have no more space.”

Rosenshein said they have been meeting with the Impact Advisory Group (IAG) now, and will have several meetings in the near future about mitigation. Right now, in the process, the focus is on mitigation, and Rosenshein said the signature item on the table is the STEM-based Kid Lab.

That is proposed to be in the Harvey apartment building – which would come online in June and would give an amenity to the community long before the Master Plan is carried out.

“That’s our signature piece of mitigation,” he said. “We want to use our existing resources like Bunker Hill Community College, Indigo and Cambridge College to create this intellectual space that we can offer to the youth of Charlestown. We don’t want to compete or overlap  with any existing programs. We hope to bring additional physical science opportunities into the community for Charlestown youth, so they can get science education and STEM opportunities that don’t exist in the public schools or the programs already at work here.”

He estimated that the Kid Lab could be up and running by September or October if the Hood Master Plan project change is approved.

Another piece that has changed is the City has asked them to move a retail portion to the area between the Stack Street building. That would likely be a small building there to accommodate what Rosenshein hopes would be a bicycle shop to serve the community and commuters.

“There are no bike repair shops in Charlestown, but many people in the Town ride bikes,” he said. “With the bike and proposed pedestrian path on Rutherford Avenue, it’s a great site to have a bike service and sales shop.”

He also said he would hope the vendor would be able to offer ice skates and snow skis, too.

That’s where he said they are also very open to what the community would like to see as mitigation and in the open spaces. He said the Hood Green open space proposal could be used as a temporary outdoor skating-rink in the winter if the community desired that – just one of many ideas he said they are open to entertaining.

“Chris Kaneb is a hockey guy,” he said. “Flooding over the Hood Green in the winter for skating is an option. Hood Green is where that would happen. If the community want that, it would be great…All of these things are certainly part of the discussion and we’re open to them.”

Rosenshein said they would also have a general general meeting to wrap up the process in the near future, but that hasn’t been scheduled yet.

The public comment period for the project proposal ends on March 1, so those interested need to submit comments before the end of February.

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