FPNA has been working with the BRA to get responses to some of the concerns and questions raised by residents over the 49-63 Melcher St. Project (Project details available on the Project Page on the BRA's site).
"As of Right"
At the meeting Tony Goldman and his architect said a number of times that their project as "as of right". I contacted Kristin Kara, the Project Manager from the BRA, and she was very helpful and clarified the BRA's position.
She said that while Goldman had called the project "as of right", those weren't her words and it's not how she would describe things, as this is part of a PDA rather than part of the zoning process. She said a more accurate way to put it is that the BRA considers the project consistent with the 100 Acres PDA (a PDA, or Planned Development Area, is a section of the city, like Fort Point, where the BRA has put aside normal zoning rules and instead imposed special guidelines just for this district). I asked specifically about the way the plan deals with its additional height and infill and she said the BRA considers both consistent with the PDA.
There remains an open question of how the BRA is going to make progress on the overall objectives for the neighborhood, like open space and a critical mass of residential development, will be achieved. This was raised to the the BRA's new Director, John Palmieri, by FPNA and other neighborhood groups at a meeting with him two weeks ago and the BRA is looking at ways to have the elements of the plan the community is excited for concurrent with those favorable to developers' bottom lines. This was part of the reason the comment period for the project was extended.
There were also a number of residents concerned about wind in the street behind the building (Necco Ct). A wind study was done, though it was qualitative, not quantitative, as there weren't significant wind changes expected. Kristin put me in touch with someone from the BRA who has more expertise with wind studies. The wind expert looked through the study and posed some questions to Frank Durgin, the engineer who performed the study. She felt the study was appropriate and well done, and she was very confident that there wouldn't be significant changes given the direction of the wind and the current levels. One point she made was that, on Necco Court, the wind currently swirls in the voids in the building. After the in-fills are put in, the wind should go up and over the building (in part because of the design of the tops of the additions) which should reduce the wind on the street level.
While these are not the only concerns residents raised, I appreciate the BRA getting back to us and clarifying their position on these items.