A rendering of the proposed 37-unit residential property at 101-103 Morse St. The proposed conversion of a historic building into a 37-unit apartment complex took a step toward final approval Wednesday night by gaining the support of the Planning Board. The property at 101-103 Morse Street used to be the Cortiva Massage School, but has not been used in several years. A previous owner tried twice unsuccessfully to get approval for a residential conversion — first with 46 units and then with 36. Mouhab Rizkallah of Lacourt Affordable Trust LLC presented the new plan, which he said has some significant differences from the previous ones.
The developers of a proposed project that would turn the building at 101-103 Morse St. into an apartment building will host a community meeting on the Southside property. The meeting will be held at the property on Morse Street on Monday, June 24 at 7 p.m. on the site of the building, 103 Morse St. in Watertown. This is not the first proposals to convert building into residential units.
The third time was not the charm, at least not yet, for developers seeking the approval of the Zoning Board to turn the former factory building into an apartment building. The developers of 101-103 Morse Street appeared before the Zoning Board in April and June 2017, and were back again last week. Each time the number of units in the development were cut, first from 48 to 40, then from 40 to 36. The project is located south of Watertown Street in a T Zone (two family). The building, however, started as a factory and then became a massage school, so it is a legal non-conforming use.
Developers of the former massage school on Morse Street went back to the drawing board and came back with a new design for an apartment building that pleased that Planning Board. Wednesday night, the Planning Board voted to recommend to the Zoning Board (which will make the final decision on the project) that it approves the latest design. The project will need a special permit to switch from a commercial to a residential use. The first proposal sought to make 45 apartments in the complex at 101-103 Morse Street, just off Watertown Street. The Zoning Board told developers it was too dense, so the designers came back with a 40-unit apartment building in June 2017.
The Zoning Board of Appeals told developers looking to change a former massage school into an apartment complex that their plan needs more work before it can get approval. The complex at 101-103 Morse Street, south of the Charles River in Watertown, most recently was occupied by the Cortiva Institute, but when the massage school left property owner Kamran Shahbazi decided to change it into a residential building. The current plan calls for 44 apartments – 3 studios, 32 one-bedrooms, nine two-bedrooms and one three-bedroom – to be constructed. This is down from 49. One of the main complaints the ZBA had about the plan was a lack of information and clarity in the plans submitted by the developers, including images of what it would look like, more detailed architectural plans and descriptions of the project.
The Planning Board gave its support for the proposal to transform a Southside commercial building into an apartment complex on Wednesday night. The proposal changed a bit from the one presented at the January community meeting. The number of units have shrunk from 49 to 45 and the roofline design has changed to look more like it has been historically. When owner Kamran Shahbazi first purchased the building it was occupied by Cortiva Institute massage school, but soon afterward the school pulled out, as did many of the other businesses that relied on the school. Instead of looking for another tenant for the building, he decided to turn it into a residential one.
On Wednesday night, the Watertown Planning Board has two major agenda items – the medical marijuana dispensary proposed for Elm Street and the apartment complex on Morse Street. Two weeks ago, Natural Selections – the group seeking to open the marijuana dispensary – received a the vote it needed from the Town Council to move on to seek a special permit from the Planning and Zoning boards to open up a dispensary at 23 Elm Street in East Watertown. On Wednesday, April 12, the dispensary will appear before the Planning Board for the first time. According to the application submitted by Natural Selections, the dispensary would occupy 2,755 square feet of Building 2 on the site (behind A-Affordable Auto Insurance) and will have 22 parking spaces. Before the vote is taken by the Planning Board there will be an opportunity for resident to give their input.