BPDA Holds Building 108 IAG Meeting

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

On Monday, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) hosted an Impact Advisory Group (IAG) meeting regarding the filing of a Project Notification Form (PNF) for the proposed Building 108 project at 108 3rd Avenue in the Navy Yard.

The project proponents – Power House CNY, LLC – propose building an approximately 99,600 gross square foot research and development office building containing 78,370 square feet of research and development space and 1,800 square feet of restaurant or café space with 39 below-grade parking spaces.

“This is a really interesting project for us because it has a lot of things that are new and different,” said Jason Forney from Bruner/Cott Architects.

The site of the proposal was previously the home of a power plant which has since been demolished.

“It’s nice to be able to – as we move forward – think about what was good about it and how it kind of occupied and kept its presence on the street, but maybe we can let go of some of the parts that didn’t work so well,” said Forney.

As part of this project, pedestrian access is proposed through the creation of two new plazas. The first plaza is located between Building 107 and the proposed development, which will provide connections to places like the Ropewalk.

While the other plaza is located at the corner of 9th Street and 3rd Avenue, providing a ramp to the main entrance and an area for people to sit outside.

As for other aspects of the proposal, such as resilient development, the building will be all-electric and is currently just short of LEED Gold.

“I think we have every bit of confidence where we should well get into gold. We’re still undecided whether we’ll pursue actual LEED certification,” said Geoffrey Lewis of  Power House CNY, LLC.

Regarding transportation, Jeffrey Dirk of Vanasse & Associates, Inc. indicated that the project complies with the city’s electrical vehicle (EV) readiness guidelines and bike accommodation guidelines.

25% of the proposed parking will be EV spaces, and in terms of bikes, there will be parking spots inside and outside – 86 total, and there will be an opportunity for a Blue Bike station at the site.

These aspects of the project are only the beginning, and the full details are available in the PNF located on the BPDA’s website at https://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/building-108.

It should be noted that Lewis indicated that, as of now, there are not any tenants lined up for the research and development part of the project or the café.

Monday’s meeting differed from regular public meetings in that following the project presentation, the dialogue was mainly centered on the project’s impacts and active dialogue between the proponents and the IAG, followed by comments from members of the public.

One of the main concerns brought up dealt with the potential biosafety level (BSL) of the proposed development and research space. However, Lewis indicated that this building is not being built for the highest risk level, BSL-4.

“To build a level four bio lab – you got to start designing that from the get-go. We are not doing that – this is not that at all,” said Lewis.

“This will not be the needle or the infectious disease buildings that you have that are heavily controlled, heavily secured – this is not that. This is not being designed to be that, and we have no intention of seeking tenants that will force us to design this building to be that.”

On this subject, Sarah Black of the BPDA said, “Anything above a BSL-2 is certainly getting some significant scrutiny from the city side. It’s something that we know that there’s serious concerns about broadly in a lot of communities.”

Some other aspects of the project broached in the meeting included parking which seemed split in that some of those who commented wanted more parking while others thought there was enough or there should be less.

Moreover, other topics were introduced, like adding handrails to ramps to ensure the development is accessible for the elderly and handicapped. There were also discussions about the narrow sidewalk on 3rd Avenue and what to do about it.

While there were many suggestions and comments about the project, it seemed like there was a strong contingent of those who liked the proposal.

One IAG Member said, “I think the building looks great. I am very excited about the project – I think that you guys have done a ton of work.”

While another said, “The building is beautiful … it’s just so attractive, and I’m sure Ropewalk will be ecstatic not to see that mess out in the other side of the building … good job, fellas.”

As for the next steps, a public comment period regarding the PNF will be open until Wednesday, May 31. Residents are encouraged to comment at the previously mentioned link or directly to [email protected].

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