As Construction of Arsenal Yards Rolls Ahead, Developers Switch Direction on Tallest Building

A view of Arsenal Street from inside Building E, one of the historic structures being redeveloped as part of the Arsenal Yards Project. Boylston Properties seeks a tenant for this “prime spot.” As the new Arsenal Yards begins to take shape, developers have changed plans for the last building in the project, shifting the 130-foot Building G from condos to a lab and office building. In December, Boylston Properties withdrew a request to the Town to allow them to make Building G a 197 foot apartment tower, 67 feet higher than allowed by Watertown’s zoning rules. They will soon submit plans for a new building that they hope to lease to biotech companies.

Arsenal Yards Developer Pulls Request for Taller Building

A rendering of what a 197-foot-tall residential tower could look like at Arsenal Yards. Developers would have needed a zoning change to allow it to be more than 130 feet tall. The requested zoning amendment, however, has been withdrawn. Boylston Properties, the developer of Arsenal Yards, has withdrawn its request to build a tower taller than is currently allowed by Watertown’s zoning rules. Developers had submitted a request to the Town to increase allowable height in the Regional Mixed Use District (RMUD) — where the mall is located — from 130 feet to 197 feet.

LETTER: Resident Urges Others to Speak Out Against Increasing Height of Tower at Arsenal Yards

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

Boylston Properties (BP) is seeking a zoning change at Arsenal Yards. What the published agenda IV. 485 Arsenal Street (click here) amendment fails to disclose is that while BP is again pushing for a height increase to 197 feet at Building G, they are also asking for 80 percent of that height for any additional buildings on their site on the south side of Arsenal Street. They want to create their own separate zone within the RMUD. If approved, those buildings could go to 157.6 feet.

Take a Look Around the Arsenal Yards Construction Site

With approvals for all but one building in the new Arsenal Mall, construction is moving full speed ahead at Arsenal Yards. The public can only access a small portion of the site right now, but Andrew Copelotti, principal with Boylston Properties, led a tour of the site. The walk started over a large expanse of dirt, which includes the former under pass beneath the mall. The entire building that used to sit on top of it is now gone. Where the dirt is located will become Building F, which will include Roche Bros.

Planning Board Approves Having Biotech Companies at Arsenal Yards

The Planning Board gave its approval to allow biotech labs to be located on the second floor of the historic building in the former Arsenal Mall where Marshall’s is located. 

The proposal by Boylston Properties, the developer of Arsenal Yards, had been delayed a month because there were questions about whether labs where biotech research should be located in the same building where retail and restaurants will be located. There was concern that the Town of Watertown did not have the same local safeguards as other area communities. Wednesday night the Planning Board heard from the developers, who also brought in consultants who work with biotech companies and outfit buildings for such lab use. Mark Deschenes from Boylston Properties said his firm did a study of biotech companies in the area and that there are already at least 23 biotech companies in Watertown, with most in East Watertown, and a few on the Westside. He added that there are several examples of biotech companies sharing buildings with retail and other businesses, and that are located near residential buildings.

Arsenal Yards Developers Proposing Limiting Area Where Increased Height Would be Allowed

The developers of Arsenal Yards have submitted an alternative amendment for increased height for the planned residential tower on the former Arsenal Mall property. 

The original proposal called for increasing the allowable height from 130 feet to 197 feet (an increase of 67 feet) for Building G in the Arsenal Yards development. The additional height would allow the condominium building to be 18 stories tall, instead of 12, but would have the same number of units. Also, the footprint of the building would be reduced. The original proposed change to Watertown’s zoning ordinance would apply to properties at least 10 acres in size located anywhere in the Regional Mixed Use District (RMUD), which includes the properties where both malls are located, along with some property along parts of Arsenal Street, Coolidge Avenue, Elm Street and Arlington Street. The alterations proposed by Boylston Properties would ask for the same height increase, but limit it to the areas south of Arsenal Street.

Proposed Self Storage, R&D Building on Elm St. Pleases Planning Board

The latest proposal for the property at 30 Elm Street — which would create a self-storage facility with space for biotech and a community space —  pleased members of the Planning Board, who recommended that the Zoning Board give it final approval. Developers seek to put up the four-story, 49-foot tall building on the property behind Target which used to be the Atlantic Battery Co. Previously there was a proposal to build a five-story hotel, but it was rejected by the Zoning Board in 2015. While the majority of the building would be devoted to self storage, the front of the building would feature space for a research and development company and space for a community use, such as the Hatch maker space, said attorney Bill York, who represented 30 Elm Street Partners LLC. Architect Hans Strauch from HDS Architecture said designers wanted to make the building attractive.

Arsenal Yards Developers Seek Biotech Tenants, Planning Board Wants More Details

The latest plans by developers of Arsenal Yards to add biotech research and development space to the multi-use development have been put on hold by the Planning Board. Until now, the focus of the development has been creating new retail and residential space on the former Arsenal Mall property. Developers also have plans to renovate the historic brick buildings on the site, including Building A (where Marshall’s is located). Wednesday night Boylston Properties presented a request to change the approved plans for Building A to allow biotech tenants on the second floor. Mark Deschenes of Boylston Properties said that plans changed since Phase 1 was approved by the Planning Board in May 2017.