Planning Board Supports Proposed Condo Building, Neighbors Have Concerns

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Embarc Studio

The proposal for 101 North Beacon St. would build a three-story building with 28 condos.

The proposal for 101 North Beacon St. would build a three-story building with 28 condos.

The new proposed condominium building at 101 North Beacon Street received good marks for its design and the fact that the units will be sold, not rented, but those living nearby worry it will have a negative impact their quiet neighborhood.

On July 10, the Planning Board gave its recommendation that the project should be allowed to go ahead. The project will now go to the Zoning Board of Appeals for final approval.

The proposal calls for building 28 condos in a three story building on the former site of AA Rentals, said project architect Dartagnan Brown of Embarc Studio. There would be 20 two-bedroom units and eight one-bedroom units. Most of the units, 24, will have access to a patio, balcony or deck. The building would also have an outdoor patio on the roof. Four the units will be be sold through the affordable housing process.

The project would have 39 parking spaces, two electric vehicle charging stations, 34 bike parking spaces and a bike fix-it station.

Planning Board member Payson Whitney said he was glad to see the units will be sold.

“One thing I do like about this proposal is these are units for sale, not rentals,” Whitney said. “A lot of rentals are going up, and have gone up, in this end of the East End. I live close to here and it is good to see more ownership coming into the neighborhoods.”

While there are improvements planned for the property, Planning Board member Gary Shaw said he he did not see anything being done with the project to help the area beyond the site.

Resident Nancy Kay Demick lives on Irving Park, around the corner from the project, and she said many residents showed up for the two community meetings about the project to express their concerns. She is not sure that everyone heard about the Planning Board meeting. Demick said she and other nearby residents worry about the impact of such a dense project on the neighborhood.

“People are very concerned with this development and how it will impact the neighborhood,” Demick said. “If you live in the neighborhood — I’ve lived there 25 years — it does feel invasive. It does feel like it will bring noise and traffic to the neighborhood.”

A Ladd Street resident said the street is a quiet one, and the project could add more cars to Ladd Street.

Traffic consultant Giles Ham of Vanasse & Associates said the traffic from the project will be less than when it was AA Rentals in the morning rush hour. The building is projected to have 10 trips during the morning peak hour, compared to 13 in its former use. AA Rentals closed at 4 p.m., so it did not add any traffic in the afternoon peak, and the building is projected to have 13 a day during the evening rush hour.

Neighbors said traffic backs up on Irving Street heading north toward North Beacon Street. Ham said the traffic signals in the area will be changed to improve the situation.

“There is some level of queueing there today, with these signal changes the situation will get better than they are out there today,” Ham said.

Some Planning Board members worried that the parking lot will become a cut through. The driveway will be one way from Irving Street to Ladd Street.

An overhead view of the proposal for 101 North Beacon St. showing the parking lot and planned landscaping.

Designers said the building will have more landscaping, and less asphalt coverage. The building itself will be farther from the abutting neighbors on the back property line of the project. Currently the building is 17-20 feet from the house in back of it, but that will increase to 40 to 56 feet.

Jim Muise, who lives right behind the site on Ladd Street, said that he is concerned that a number of the parking spaces will right next to the side of his house. The designers said there will be a fence in between.

Landscape architect Blair Hines said designers tried to create a buffer with to the neighbors with new trees on street edges and the fact that the building is pushed off the street means there is more space for plantings.

Along with the rear fence, Hines said evergreens trees will be planted to block views into their homes from the new building.

The Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend that the Zoning Board of Appeals (which has the ultimate approval of the project) to approve the special permit to build the project.

6 thoughts on “Planning Board Supports Proposed Condo Building, Neighbors Have Concerns

  1. If I were an area resident, I’d be more concerned about this condo complex detracting from the splendor of the nearby China Rainbow Lounge and the Super 8 Motel then I would be about the potential increase in traffic.

    • Nasty. You don’t live here. Yes, those places are eye sores but so is most the big ugly rental units that have gone up on Unpleasant Street and Arsenal. The neighborhood is full of kids, dogs and folks from Perkins. Huge traffic nightmare. No one would object to this project if they planned a smaller condo complex. This one crams too many condos in a small space. No parking for guests, deliveries and a fence will not protect the closest neighbors. We are tired of Watertown not having a master plan and rubber stamping every project.

  2. Double ugly. My home is at the intersection of Irving and Riverside Streets, where there is a stop sign on both sides of the intersection coming up from Charles River Road and dwon from North Beacon Streets; rarely do motor vechicles stop, as in, completely stop. Perkins School for the Blind (or sight challenged for the PC crowd) is one block away, and I challenge anyone to say that the estimated increased traffic will not present a problem for the community. Added to this is the cluster, umm, problem along Arsenal Street heading toward Boston from Irving Street on eastward Would be interesting to see resumes of those involved, but none would indicate “How I screwed up Watertown’s residential ethos.”

  3. Agree with concerns about the shoddiness of other buildings and businesses on N. Beacon than this complex. N. Beacon already has its fair share of traffic. It’s the cut-through from Watertown to Brookline.

    It’s well thought out, there will be less asphalt and more landscaping than the diagram shows. Units are owned vs rented so there will be a sense of ownership. Sure don’t miss the Bedroom Store there and whew, could’ve been a Wal-Mart from a few years ago.

    I’m eager to see the growth.

  4. I’m fully aware I don’t live in this particular neighborhood. However, this is another example of the ongoing continuous development and its associated impacts each has individually and additively. when this town is already busting at the seams.
    Some thoughts on this development of 20 two bedroom and eight one bedroom condos. While I certainly think sales vs rental are a better way to “guarantee” more contribution from owners to the town as I see it any more cars are too many cars. At this presentation was the traffic study itself presented or just the final numbers. I think it is reasonable to assume based on the cost of these units that the two bedrooms will have at least 2 working adults and the one bedroom 1 and very possibly 2 working adults as well. That would come to a total of 56 working adults. Is the 39 parking spaces the number being used to develop the traffic impact model? I think people should review and question the use of model inputs used to calculate the number of trips projected, i.e. 10 in the morning rush hour and 13 in the afternoon. This seems very low. Are we talking traffic pinch points in the square, Mt. Auburn at Irving , North Beacon at Irving, Arsenal at School St. all of the above?

    To address neighborhood concerns the developers are also saying they will be planting trees as a buffer/ privacy screen. Because the trees will need to grow to have any effect, my guess is any “privacy” will take years unless large trees are planted.

  5. This development is not “bad” in and of itself. The developers have given the neighborhood a listen. The problem isn’t this one, it’s the one that replaces the hotel and the one in the property across the street, etc. There is no vision to preserve even a little of Watertown’s quiet neighborhoods. And housing prices just keep going up. It will crash at some point. We can only hope Watertown is not completely changed or ruined from the town that many of us love.

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