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Energy-plus development in Mission Hill gets final OK

Posted by Patrick Rosso  March 11, 2014 03:46 PM

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Boston’s first energy-positive residential development is expected begin construction by the fall.

Developers with Sebastian Mariscal Studio Inc., the proponents behind the $13-million “green” project in Mission Hill, appeared before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday, for the project’s final sign-off. The Boston Redevelopment Authority approved it in February.

Plans call for the construction of a mixed-use development for 44 residential rental units, community garden space, and ground floor commercial space at 778-796 Parker St. and 77 Terrace St.

The units, which will be located on a series of vacant city-owned lots between Parker Street and Terrace Street, will include 29 one-bedroom residences, 10 two-bedroom residences, and five three-bedroom residences. Close to 20 percent of the units will be set aside for affordable housing.

The developer was selected to construct on the lots after a community process that included a publicly advertised proposal. The property, which was appraised for $990,000, will be sold to the developer for $600,000, according to the Department of Neighborhood Development.

The project’s commercial space, which will front on Terrace Street, will be approximately 4,120 square-feet.

In addition to the units, the project, located a few blocks from the Roxbury Crossing MBTA station, also provides space for 30 car parking spaces, 82 bike parking spaces, and 48 storage units.

The project will incorporate approximately 14,000-square-feet of solar panels and a number of other energy saving tools to meet its energy positive standards. Once the project is up and running, developers estimate that the development will create an energy surplus of 21 percent.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Joe Hanley, the developer’s attorney, called the project innovative and said it is something the city has never seen.

“This is the city’s first energy positive project, so we have something here that’s very innovation,” said Hanley. “This is a transit oriented site to say the least, and we plan on taking advantage of that.”

In addition to the units, the project also includes space for community gardens; the area had been used in the past for “guerrilla gardens.” The new gardens will be located on top of the units with access to the gardens from Parker Street.

“At the very beginning I was opposed to this, we wanted our gardens on Parker Street,” Francie Hauck, one of the garden’s founders told the board. “…this is a beautiful project and I support it.”

Close to 10 residents turned out to voice their support for the project, in addition to local elected officials.

“The team has done a great job getting out there and I’m happy to see this project,” Representative Jeffery Sanchez told the board.

Representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, the office of at-Large City Councilor Michael Flaherty, the office of at-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, and the office of City Councilor Josh Zakim also voiced their support for the project.

Representatives from Mission Hill Main Streets, the Electricians Local 103, the Carpenters Union, the Department of Neighborhood Development, and the Boston Natural Areas Network also voiced their support for the project.

Two residents turned out to oppose the project, citing concerns about the project’s impact to the gardens, parking, and the undervaluation of the property by the city.

“We have been opposing this since its inception,” Kathryn Brookins told the board. “If you look at the plans, you see the pictures are idealized.”

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the project.

Construction is expected to begin by the fall of 2014, with work expected to take upwards of 18 months, according to the developers.


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