NEWRA Votes Not to Support 173 Endicott Street Proposal

By Phil Orlandella

The Nazzaro Community Center was completely full for NEWRA's monthly meeting.

The Nazzaro Community Center was completely full for NEWRA’s monthly meeting.

Despite making significant change to the proposed development at 173 Endicott Street based on abutters suggestions, Urban Core Development did not receive support from members of the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWRA) at the March 9 monthly public meeting that was well attended by residents.

The developer told NEWRA that they change the height of the building from 55 to 51 feet, reduced parking from seven to four vehicles, and reduced the size of most of the bay windows that protrude out over the sidewalk.

The plan calls for nine condominium units and two roof deck areas for private use only.

“The floor area ratio of the project would be 4.6 feet, 56% over the limit,” according to John Fumara a lifelong resident of the North End who also feels additional changes especially to the bay windows need to be madeas well.

“The structure that was on this parcel, many years ago, was no higher than three stories,” he said. “The project is to massive for this location or any similar size parcel anywhere in the neighborhood.”

He claimed that the “Rooftop overlay zoning law would restrict a new structure to the height limit.”

Many other residents expressed similar issues resulting in the Association voting not to support the project.

NEWRA voted to support a request by Boston Beverage Serves, Inc. d/b/a Battery Wharf Hotel Boston Waterfront for a live entertainment license for building two multifunction rooms only.

Abutters have been advised and conditionally have no problems, siting no outdoor live entertainment, traffic control and unnecessary noise.

Joe Larkin of Millennium Partners, the developer of the Winthrop Square project, presented information on the agency’s plan to build a 775-foot mixed-use tower on the city-owned parking garage which is decrepit and the city wants to get rid of it.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and his Boston Planning and Development agency apparently looked at five plans before settling on Millennium Partners.

Many residents and community groups are opposing the project based on the Massachusetts Shadow Law which would affect the Boston Common and Public Garden, according to whose study is correct.

The City and the BPDA need to obtain a one-time exemption to the law in order to proceed with the development of the massive project that will reportedly pay upwards of $150 million for the site.

Opponents claim the proposed building will cast a morning shadow that at its greatest extent would stretch almost a mile from the Financial District down the middle of Boston Common, through the heart of the Public Garden, and onto the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Many neighborhood groups have expressed their opposition based on the one-time exemption of the law by the State and the Governor. Some believe the action would set a precedent for other projects in the future.

The Globe reported that “Under existing law, there’s a shadow bank that would allow a limited number of new developments in specific parts of downtown to cast shadows over the Common during the day.”

Walsh has apparently promised to devote tens of millions of dollars to the Common, Franklin Park and the Emerald Necklace and tens of millions for maintenance, more to affordable housing and other neighborhood investments in South Boston, East Boston, Chinatown but no financial gain for the North End/Waterfront.

NEWRA’s By-Laws Committee chaired by Jason Aluia advise the group is working to revise its somewhat dated policies and change some of the bylaws including offices serving only two-year terms with the president’s position remaining at a two-year limit.

Zoning, Licensing and Construction Chair Victor Brogna reported that the Boston Board of Appeals denied Verizon’s request to place new equipment on the roof at 62 Commercial Street.

Public Safety Chair David Marx reported the Part One Crime in the neighborhood is up 12 percent, the highest jump in many years.

The Council also advise residents that their annual election of officers will take place in May from 10 AM to 2 PM in the Nazzaro Community Center.

Six seats on the Council’s board are up for 2-year terms this May. Deadline for securing signatures from North End residents is May 1, 6 PM.

Senior Advisor Kaira Fox of the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engineering updated NEWRA on “Love Your Block (formerly Boston Shines) a spring program in April for residents and the business community to participate in.

The program engages the neighborhood to improve area by picking up debris off of the streets, sidewalks, gardens, parks and playgrounds.

The major cleanup program will help keep the community beautiful as well as trash free.