By Seth Daniel
Neighbors gave tacit approval to one development on Medford Street and a firm thumb’s down to another seven-unit building on Medford and Belmont Streets Monday night at two abutter meetings the Charlestown Community Center.
The backside of the Town has long been budding with promise for residential development, but in the ultra-hot Charlestown housing market, developers lately have been keying on the area and proposing properties that are likely to fetch more than $1 million if approved and built.
That was the case in the first abutters meeting on Monday when a group of neighbors and Neighborhood Council Chair Tom Cunha met with Developer Gray Macletchie of GrayMac Construction in a follow up to a previous proposal roll out.
Macletchie has owned a construction garage on Kelley Court since about 2000 and is now proposing to build three single-family homes that he said tentatively could fetch more than $1 million if built.
The plan calls for a single family home in the back utilizing an existing construction garage, building a new single-family in the middle of the block and another single family at the corner or Kelly Court and Medford. A new four-foot alleyway would separate the corner structure from an existing condo building right next door.
Neighbors on the ledge above the project have been disturbed by the addition on such a small piece of land, and it was noted the developers needs several pieces of relief from the Zoning Board in Boston to be able to build.
“I was really surprised that a lot of the neighbors, especially those that had been so vocal at the first meeting, did not show up,” said Maryann Bartolo, whose family has lived above the project on the ledge for generations. “Many do have the option to just move and are considering such as I hear it. This is still something my family doesn’t want at our backyard. And it speaks to what is happening at many other sites throughout Charlestown. I am not sure people understand the emotional impact, the distress, this project is causing individuals. That is the human element of it. My mom of 85 sits at our kitchen window in the only home she’s ever known. Looking toward Medford Street, she sees those passing by, the ocean, once Dewy Beach to her, and the place where the old Revere Sugar Refinery stood. The ‘sugar house’ was where she met Dad and he worked for over 40 years. When the Macletchie project is done there won’t be much of a view left for her. She’ll be looking at house tops and there are no memories in them.”
Other neighbors seemed to be at peace with the revised project, particularly since the heights were brought down to about 25 feet and the backyards were reserved for landscaping rather than parking.
Cunha said his concerns lied around a retaining wall, which Macletchie said he was taking responsibility for, and a shadow study. Cunha said shadow is really important now in Charlestown as little lots begin to fill up and homes and gardens can be blocked from sunlight they’ve had for years.
“Shadow is a very big concern in the community now because more and more people are building to the max height,” Cunha said. “We’re requiring more parking and so they take the basement and put cars in there and then build to the max…The shadow study may end up meaning nothing, but I’d be concerned about that.”
He said overall, though he isn’t a big proponent of building, he felt the Macletchie project was a good project.
In another meeting afterward, Ryan Connolly got negative feedback from many neighbors regarding his project at the corner of Belmont and Medford Street.
His project originally including building nine units where an existing two-family home sits. On Monday night, he unrolled a plan for seven units. He said he scaled it down and took out the Lift parking system.
He said he isn’t sure what they would do now.
“At this point, I don’t know if the abutters would even support a single family home there,” he said. “Overall, we feel the design we prepared for Monday night was better than the last one…They’re not happy with it and overall they’re not happy with really anything there.”
He said they could likely come back with another proposal.
“We might put together another design,” he said