The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) heard three petitions Monday night for projects in the downtown and one in Ward 6 – approving all three, including two historic preservation residential projects in Everett Square.
First, the ZBA voted 4-1 (with Member Paul Colameta voting against) to approve the historic renovation of the vacant Masonic Temple on Broadway into 11 luxury apartments – two of which will be affordable units on site. There will, however, be no parking – which was a hitch for some on the ZBA and the Planning Board.
Originally, the owner had asked for the use of residential parking stickers as the property is historic and landlocked. However, they have now agreed to go forward without the ability to have residents there participate in the sticker program.
“I’ve spoken to my client and he has no objections with not allowing any residential stickers on the site,” said Attorney Anthony Rossi. “The structure is landlocked. You can’t take the building down because it is historic and you have the old high school on one side, a structure on the other side and there is no parking in the back.”
The idea for developer Mani Farahani is to historically renovate the structure into luxury apartments, with some of them being multi-floor duplexes. Rossi said his client could have made it a much bigger development, but without parking he wanted to limit the units and he wanted to develop a higher-quality product.
“That’s a huge building there and he could have put in 30 small micro-units, but he didn’t because he wanted to build a higher-quality product,” said Rossi. “A lot of these are duplex units. He keeps the buildings and likes to keep them very nice.”
Already, he has pursued state and federal historic tax credits for the redevelopment, which limits what can be done to the façade and the historic exterior of the building – which most recently was used occasionally as an Islamic House of Worship during holidays. Farahani plans to update the masonry and build a handicap access ramp, as well as landscape and beautify the property. It was a key property identified in the Everett Square Revitalization Plan as it is vacant, and there are substantial barriers to redeveloping it.
Councilor Michael McLaughlin said he supported the development due to the affordable housing.
“I’ve been a huge advocate of bringing in in as much affordable housing to the city as possible,” he said. “This is two units, but it is two units we don’t have now on the books.”
• Historic Property on Corey Street Ok’d
City Clerk Sergio Cornelio received a 5-0 approval by the ZBA for a revised plan that completely preserves the historic (c. 1822) Stratus homestead and property on Corey Street Monday night.
Cornelio said he purchased the home from the Stratus family a year ago with the idea to preserve it. While he considered selling it to a developer at one point, he has now reconsidered and put forth a plan to not alter the exterior and to build six units in the old home – which is now a two-family.
“The records say it was built in 1822 and it would really be a shame to tr it down or substantially change the property,” said Attorney Dave O’Neil. “The hardship of having a large property with a large single-family or two-family is you have a very large and underutilized property. The thoughtful redevelopment proposes not to alter the historic nature of the property, utilize the space and provide six new units of housing.”
There is also about 10,000 sq. ft. with a carriage house in the back of the property that is not part of this project. However, Cornelio said for now that is just going to be used as storage.
“I don’t have plans for the barn yet,” he said. “There are some options and down the road I may come to you with something. I love that barn and would like to utilize it at some time, but for now it’s just going to stay a storage space for me.”
• Approval on Wyllis
Property owners Sujan Kharel received a 5-0 vote in approval for his project at 94 Wyllis Ave. that would convert a single-family home to a three-family home on an 8,128 sq. ft. lot.