The meeting 49/51/63 Melcher St. on Thursday was one of the more hostile community meetings I've been to. Residents spoke out loud and clear that they were unhappy both with the project as well as the larger development process for the neighborhood.
Tony Goldman of Goldman Properties was there and took the stance that he can do the project as-of-rights (ie, without getting any additional approval from the city or BRA), so he was not interested in any concessions or changes. This was a point of a contention during the meeting. FPNA has contacted the BRA to confirm this.
The full plan is available on the BRA's website:
49/51/63 Melcher PNF Page
Concerns raised by residents there included:
-The district is already 85% office and the 100 Acres plan calls for 1/3 each of residential, retail, and office space. Does this makes it impossible to have 33% residential ? Even if not, the neighborhood has a ton of catching up to do.
-Residents were displeased that developers seemed to be picking the elements from the 100 Acres plan that benefited them, and ignoring the elements that didn't. They would like to see greenspaces and residential projects built alongside the office towers, not many years.
-There was disagreement that the rooftop additions are as-of-right and don't require a variance. Kristin Kara, who moderated and represented the BRA, said that "my understanding is that a variance is not needed... the BRA believes that this project does not require a variance."
-Contractors for previous Goldman projects have caused problems, including parking in lots they don't own and working outside of the approved work hours.
-Goldman's commitment to the city and the neighborhood was questioned. They bought 17 properties, got the plan approved, and then sold off many of them. In addition, with this project alone, 91 artists were evicted and many local businesses, creating a deadzone in the heart of the neighborhood where there used be a very vibrant block with public performances and active businesses.
-Kristin Kara said that the BRA is interested in having community benefits for every development project and would seek them for this project, however, there were none at this time. Concern was raised that the comment period ends in two weeks, which means the public is being shut out of this part of the process.
-There was a lot of disapproval of the additions on the back of the building. Residents felt that the existing nooks are interesting and would make great pocket parks. It will also mean the loss of those historic facades and footprints. And, very pragmatically, that street is currently a quiet street that pedestrians prefer to walk on as it's sheltered from the wind; making the building one large rectangle will make it a wind tunnel and very unattractive, large block.
-This is one of the two tallest buildings in all of Fort Point. People asked why there was a need to do a rooftop addition ? It's less than 5% of the total square footage, but is a significant change to an historic building.
-91 artists were displaced by Goldman and a number of art galleries. The loss of neighborhood institutions like Studio Soto has had a real impact on the neighborhood. And there are no artist or art spaces in this or any of Goldman's development projects, at all.