By Stephen Quigley
Members of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) heard from representatives of the Related Beal Co. about their plans for a new, three-story, 101,500 square-foot Life Science Building at 420 Rutherford Ave. at the council’s monthly meeting on Tuesday night.
The building will also have a mechanical area on top of the “green roof” that will be enclosed in a 20-foot high penthouse that will be set back from the edge of the building.
The public meeting was the latest by the developer in its effort to gain community comments for the proposed building. The public meetings have been ongoing since July and have been attended by many residents.
Stephen Faber, Executive Vice President of Related Beal, noted that many good ideas about the look of the building have come out of these public hearings. He noted that a laundromat could be included as part of the company’s community mitigation package.
He said that the proposed design of the building will be more in keeping with the Charlestown skyline. The adjoining building, known as The Harvey, which is located in Hood Park development, will look down on the roof that will be “a green roof.”
The Related Beal representatives noted that there will be trees planted along Rutherford Ave. in front of the building and they will be providing a pedestrian walkway and benches to be used by residents.
The new building will be at 1.8 for the Floor Area Ratio (FAR), less than the 2.0 FAR that the company has been granted. However, during the meeting it was acknowledged that while the FAR is less, the height of the building at 52 feet and the penthouse at 20 feet are higher than allowed under the present zoning and will require a variance.
Faber also noted that parts of the existing foundation will be used, and there are no plans to increase the height for the building in the future since the new building is being constructed with no foundational support for additional height.
Two other facts that were brought out was that the Life Science industry typically has about one-third fewer employees in a building, as opposed to a building that was designated as a traditional office space. The fewer number of employees should help lessen vehicular traffic. In addition, the proximity to the development of two rapid transit stations — Bunker Hill Community College and Sullivan, both of which are about 12-minute walk from the building — likely will contribute to lessening the impact of vehicular traffic.
It was estimated that the building could house as many as nine Life Science companies or as few as one. Presently, Boston is the capital of the Life Science industry.
Tom Cunha, the chairman of the CNC, asked about the time frame for the construction of the building. It was estimated that the permitting process will take about another year and that construction could start in late spring or early summer of 2023.
Cunha pointed out that now is the time to get street breaks designed for Rutherford Ave. that will allow for easier access to and from the Life Science buildings both by employees who might want to access the stores in Charlestown and by residents who may wish to utilize the open spaces at the development.
Cunha also mentioned that as part of a community mitigation, perhaps students at Charlestown High and Bunker Hill Community College can be given internships in some of the Life Science companies. It was estimated that there will be 250 jobs in the research and development sections of these companies and as many as 225 construction jobs that will be created in the construction phase of the project.
At the end of the meeting, the general consensus among the CNC members was that this project could be “fantastic” for Charlestown.
In other news, the newly-elected precinct representatives who will be sworn-in in January were announced and are:
Precinct 1 – Sean Boyle
Precinct 2 – Rosemary Macera
Precinct 3 – Johanne Hynes
Precinct 4 – open
Precinct 5 – Richard McCarthy (re-elected)
Precinct 6 – Jean Wilson (re-elected)
Precinct 7 – Philip Cappadona