By Michael Coughlin Jr.
On Monday, April 10, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held a meeting to discuss a Supplemental Information Document that was filed in February regarding the development of an over 480,000 square-foot mixed-use development at One Mystic Avenue.
The proposed development would span 25 stories at the height of 279 feet, include retail and commercial space, and 636 residential units, all while providing 171 off-street parking spaces.
Over the past several years that this development has been in the works, the team working on the project has been listening to feedback, according to Donald Wiest, a Founding Partner of Dain|Torpy, the permitting counsel for the developer – Fulcrum Global Investors, LLC.
“In the course of almost three years working on this project and approximately 70 meetings – small and large – talking with members of the community – we have been listening and taking notes to see what ways the project could respond to the community’s needs,” said Wiest.
Monday’s presentation revealed how this project’s proponents plan to address residents’ concerns regarding housing, traffic, job opportunities, and open space.
Regarding housing, concerns outlined in the presentation pertained to high costs, a minimal amount of housing options available, and a lack of housing for veterans. To quell these concerns, the proponents are proposing 20% affordable housing, “significant” workforce housing, and even veterans housing.
“We are proposing an enormous number of affordable units at our building. They’re expensive to build – they’re especially expensive to build in highrise vertical construction as opposed to more standard low-scale construction – but we’re committed to doing it,” said Wiest.
Wiest went on to explain that around 70% of the total units would either be affordable or workforce housing. Moreover, this proposal commits to 127 total IDP units. Furthermore, 13% of units are at 70% AMI (area median income), 4% at 100% AMI, and 3% as “veteran’s vouchers” as part of the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program (VASH).
As for the size of the units in this development, around 40% of the affordable units are standard-sized, while 60% of market-rate units are compact.
In terms of veteran housing, there is a proposal for a wing on the fourth level to contain 20 VASH units, including over 2,000 square feet for amenities such as counseling rooms, a fitness area, and more.
Moving toward the mitigation strategies concerning traffic, Wiest indicated that the most fundamental mitigation strategy of them all is that the site is close to Sullivan Square Station.
“Simply being across the street from Sullivan station makes it very easy for people in the morning to fall out of bed, walk across the street, get on the T, or get on one of 12 bus lines and go to work that way,” said Wiest.
He also showed a slide that indicated that within a 30-minute transit trip from the Sullivan Square Station area, riders would have access to 858,794 jobs around areas like Boston, Medford, Everett, and more.
“So, for the roughly 900 or so people who will live ultimately in our 636 units – it’s an extraordinary access to the rich job pool of our area without having to have a car – or at least without having to rely on your car,” said Wiest.
Other traffic mitigation tactics include the commitment to join a Transit Management Association, help with the launch of the Charlestown Link shuttle service, subsidies for both the MBTA and Blue Bikes, an electric vehicle car share program, and much more.
As for job creation, this project would create around 1,500 construction jobs, including internships and apprentice opportunities. “These will be union construction jobs; they’ll be extremely well-paid,” said Wiest.
60 permanent jobs will also be created for work within the building. Around three or four opportunities for local small businesses will be provided, which entails rent subsidies to get them into the proposed building.
Finally, in terms of open space, the proponents are committing to 35% of on-site open space, which includes a dog park and public plaza, in addition to other improvements in walkability, connections, and more.
Overall, there seemed to be a healthy amount of attendees who supported the project, but others did have some concerns.
Many of the attendees who voiced their support for the project were part of local unions like Patrick O’Toole and Jerry Williams.
“I represent workers from Local 6 out of Dorchester, and I just wanted to thank the BPDA for the meeting tonight, and I do want to say that we definitely support this project,” said O’Toole.
Williams, a member of Local 33, echoed O’Toole saying, “I am fully in support of this project. I am looking forward to the opportunity that it provides to the people, and the union, and the city.”
While there was support from those in unions around the city and even some support from residents in Charlestown, other neighborhood residents were not as gungho about the proposal.
One of the main concerns raised by some residents during the question and answer portion of the meeting was about keeping Charlestown residents in the neighborhood. For example, Johanna Hynes asked if some of the units were being held for residents of Charlestown so they could stay in the area.
However, Wiest explained that holding specific units for Charlestown residents could not happen due to federal housing non-discrimination law.
Another resident seemed outright opposed to the project, saying, “It doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s too big, too tight, too dense, and a very dangerous location.”
While there are differing opinions on the proposal, there is still time to provide feedback. The public comment period is open for the supplemental filing – the topic of Monday’s meeting, and it will close on Apr. 28. Written comments can be sent in at https://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/one-mystic-avenue.