The proposed Linx project has an address on Arsenal Street, but the redevelopment of the Verizon Building could impact residents and others in Coolidge Square, including the St. Stephen’s Armenian School.
Last week, developers of the building, Boylston Properties, discussed the plans to turn the warehouse that serves as home to a fleet of Verizon trucks, into a 185,000 square foot space for companies that may in the past looked to be in Kendall Square in Cambridge. Details were first revealed during a meeting at the site in February (see details here).
The 8.5-acre site will have a 37,000 square foot green space for employees to take breaks or work outside. It will also have more than 560 parking spaces. Vehicles will be able to come through the main entrance from Arsenal Street, and through a secondary entrance on the backside from Nichols Avenue and use Bigelow Avenue or Arlington Street to get to Mt. Auburn Street.
The rear entrance is just a few hundred feet from the St. Stephen’s School, where 150 students show up between 7:30-8:30 a.m. each morning and must cross Nichols Street from the school’s parking lot, said James Bell, president of the St. Stephen’s School Committee.
Eastside Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis said the gate has not been opened to regular traffic in the past, except for very unusual situations and when it was there were controls.
“When Verizon had strikes, they made it a right turn only (out of the driveway) and no left into the neighborhood,” Kounelis said.
Giles Ham a traffic engineer with Vanesse & Associates, said the Nichols Street entrance is anticipated to prevent cars coming from Mt. Auburn Street going through neighborhood streets to get to the entrance on Arsenal Street. They still hope that
“We don’t want people traveling through or going into the neighborhood,” Ham said. “We’ve proposed not right turn in and no left turn out.”
Traffic studies anticipate 60 additional cars will be coming down Bigelow Avenue in the busiest morning hour. This would be on top of the current traffic.
With vehicles going to Linx coming down Bigelow Avenue and crossing Nichols Avenue to get in the rear entrance, a St. Stephen’s School parent suggested having a right turn lane on Bigelow Avenue for parents dropping off their children at the school.
Wells Avenue resident David Peckar said he worries if the Nichols Avenue entrance is not used people will start to drive back behind Target at the Watertown Mall to get to Mt. Auburn Street, and would have to go through the Grove Street/Arlington Street intersection to get to Mt. Auburn Street.
“The entrance on Nichols Avenue is probably the best option,” Peckar said.
The proposal also includes keeping the street parking along Nichols Avenue, and to put in a sidewalk on that side. There would be “bump outs” of the sidewalk at the crosswalks to slow traffic and give pedestrians a shorter distance to cross the roadway.
The current berm along Nichols Avenue would be removed and replaced by trees and bushes to provide a vegetative screen for the site.
Kounelis said she is worried that driver will learn alternative routes through the area.
“If there is gridlock on Bigelow, human nature will prevail and people will meander through the neighborhood and will learn their way through,” Kounelis said.
Developers also hope that employees will take advantage of the bicycle path running right by the site to community to school by bike. This would reduce the number of cars coming to the site.
The project is expected to go to the Planning Board in May and eventually to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The soonest construction would begin would be September.