The fate of the proposed project at 40 Warren Street now rests with the Boston Board of Zoning Appeals on January 24 after a special meeting of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) Development Committee last week. Following a two hour hearing that attracted more than 120 residents, the CNC Executive Board in a 6-6 vote failed to affirm a motion of support for the project. This new vote reversed an earlier vote of support for the project that they had unanimously approved at their November meeting.
The meeting ran the gamut of emotions as abutters to the project as well the developer became heated in their opinions.
The meeting and the subsequent vote by CNC Executive Board had been prompted since Nova Realty Partners had made changes to the project since November in an attempt to win neighborhood support. While the number of condo units had decreased from 14 to 11, the sticking points of the height of the building increasing from 35 feet to 58 feet and the request for two deeded parking spaces per unit instead of one were obstacles that could not be overcome. Many abutters claimed that their homes would lose value and their quality of life with sunlight and open space would be severely impacted if the height was raised.
Presently, the building known as The Old English Garage consists of parking as well as about 40 small office units.
“We have further modified the project,” Vahid NickPour from Nova Realty said. “We are willing to work with you,” he stressed. He also assured the crowd that anyone who presently has a parking space will not lose the space.
Many local union tradesmen showed up to support the project. The developer has agreed to hire 20% of the workforce from Charlestown union members.
“This whole area of Austin Street has changed into a great area,” Sean Sullivan of Green Street said. “These developers are not carpet baggers and I support the project,” he added.
Brian Graves of Winthrop Street said the developer should stay within the current zoning height of 35 feet, so he remained opposed.
“This project would deprive me of the reason that I choose Charlestown,” Sue Falahee of Main Street said.
This is a gateway building,” Stephanie Goldberg of Soley Street said in opposition to the project. “Zoning is there for a reason.”
“This has been my home for 13 years and now I will only see a brick wall,” Jane Williamson of Main Street said.
A local elevator contractor pointed out that he is able to donate to Charlestown charities because of work like this project.
Several residents at 42 Park Street voiced their support for the project noting that it would improve the area.
“I am frustrated trying to come up with a compromise from both sides. The developer has made the effort but your actions are really disappointing,” Mark Rosenshein, Chair of the Development Committee said to the group of abutters.
Several members of the CNC spoke about their concerns about the scope of the project while other members still supported the developer.