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. This would include the former Arsenal Mall, the land with Home Depot and all the land east of Talcott Avenue (the east entrance to the Arsenal on the Charles) including Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates.
Developers proposed the change after hearing from the public, said Andrew Copelotti, project manager for Boylston Properties.
“We had a discussion with Planning (Department) staff based on what we heard at the community meeting,” Copelotti said. “There were concerns, not necessarily about what was happening on our property, but what could happen across the street.”
Copelotti said the new proposal was sent to officials in Watertown’s Planning Department. He added that Boylston Properties has requested to delay the Planning Board hearing on the amendment until October.
“We submitted it, but we haven’t heard back,” Copelotti said.
Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon, who is also director of the Community Development and Planning Department, said his department has received the proposed changes to the height amendment.
“I don’t have a recommendation on that,” Magoon said. “We are still looking at that.”
One of the questions addressed in the proposal is whether reducing the area where the extra height would be allowed would be considered spot zoning. The legal opinion of Boylston Property’s attorneys said it would not be, and Magoon agreed.
“We are not concerned about spot zoning,” Magoon said. “It really doesn’t meet that definition.”
The Planning Department will come up with a recommendation for the Planning Board on the new proposal, Magoon said.
“We could say we think it’s great, we could say that’s terrible, or we could say it is pretty good and make some suggested changes to the plan,” Magoon said.
Copelotti said Boylston Properties is ready to go ahead, what ever the Planning Department’s recommendation is.
“If they support it, we’ll pursue it,” Copelotti said. “If not we’ll go ahead with the original proposal.”
Which ever amendment comes forward, Because the proposal is a change to the Zoning Ordinance, Magoon said, the Planning Board will make a recommendation and the Town Council will make the ultimate decision over whether or not to accept it.