First Phase of Arsenal Renovation Approved, Including Large Parking Garage

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A drawing showing what the new garage on the wet end of Athenahealth's Arsenal on the Charles campus.

A drawing showing what the new garage on the wet end of Athenahealth's Arsenal on the Charles campus.

A drawing showing what the new garage on the wet end of Athenahealth’s Arsenal on the Charles campus.

The first phase of the renovation of the Arsenal on the Charles, including a garage with more than 1,300 spaces, was unanimously approved by the Planning Board last week.  

The first phase of athenahealth’s master plan to expand and upgrade the Arsenal Complex consists of the new west parking garage, along with a new building on Arsenal Street and a pocket park along North Beacon Street.

The new garage will have it has 1,390 spaces and is expandable to 1522 if stackers are put on the bottom floor of the garage, said Bob Corning, principal with Stantec. Using the stackers, one car will be put on a lift, raised up leaving space for a second car to park underneath.

Some of the goals of athenahealth’s master plan is to make the campus more permeable for pedestrians, and accessible and inviting to the public, said Mark Blair, director of athenaenvironment. 

One way they are doing this is by widening the sidewalk in front of the new commercial building on Arsenal Street, near School Street. Landscaping and places to gather will be installed in that area.

On the other side a park with a boardwalk path through it will be built between the garage and North Beacon Street. Sitting areas off the path were added after residents requested such features, Corning said.

The garage will link to Building 311 (the long building along Arsenal Street) via a third floor walkway. The bridge connects into existing walkways on the upper level of Building 311.

Neighbors Concerned

Kathy Santoian lives across North Beacon Street from where the garage will sit, and she said that she and her neighbors still have concerns, foremost the size.

“Most of the conversation has been about how to hide the garage, but basically that is putting lipstick on a pig,” Santoin said. “The thing is massive. We are already dealing with the traffic. I can’t sit on my front porch because of the fumes.”

Santoian said more neighbors would be at the Planning Board meeting, but most have given up and feel like “it is a done deal.” Light pollution and noise pollution are also some of the concerns of nearby residents, she said.

Some of residents have contacted East End Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis to complain about people working at the Arsenal on the Charles parking on neighborhood streets.

Planning Board member Gary Shaw wanted to make sure that athenahealth would make an effort to make sure people aren’t parking on surrounding streets, and not require residents to take action.

Parking During Construction

During construction on the garage, athenahealth and other tenants will be able to park in off site lots with shuttles taking them to campus, Blair said.

The company already has two small lots – 45 spaces on School Street and 38 spaces on Nichols Avenue – Blair said, and they have secure more: 70 spaces on Watertown Street and 150 on Soldiers Field Road. Athena is also in talks with Boylston Properties, which owns the former Arsenal Mall, about potentially using some of its spaces.

Employees will be shuttled between these lots and campus, Blair said, with the buses leaving every 15 minutes during commute times and every 30 minutes during the rest of the day.

Athenahealth will also look at possibly running a shuttle from campus to the Waverley Commuter Rail Station in Belmont and through Brighton, an area where many Athenahealth residents live.

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