Saturday, January 17, 2009

Archon/Goldman Propose 270' Tower

Archon and Goldman Properties are proposing building a 270' tower at 319 A street. In exchange for the new square footage, they're offering to turn 327 Summer St. into housing for displaced artists, though it's unclear exactly how this would work.

Fort Point plan calls for tower
Building would be tallest in area and expand housing

By Casey Ross, Globe Staff | January 15, 2009

A Boston developer is proposing to build what would be the tallest building in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood, a 23-story residential and retail tower on A Street that would help satisfy demands for more housing in the historic waterfront district.

As part of the proposal, developers Archon Group and Goldman Properties are offering to donate an adjacent building to house artists being displaced by rapid redevelopment in the area, according to documents filed with city planners Tuesday.

"Up until now, the developer has not been willing to donate a building, so we believe this is a good start," said Kairos Shen, the city's chief planner, who added the proposal appears to be generally consistent with the city's plan for the neighborhood.

Redevelopment along the Fort Point Channel has been strained by tensions between local artists and property owners who want to turn the district's 19th-century warehouses into new offices, retail shops, and condominiums.

The latest proposal by Archon/Goldman would result in construction of 290 residential units at 319 A St., which is currently the site of a five-story office building filled with artist studios and other small businesses. Construction of the residential tower could not begin for at least two years, when the current lease on the building expires, city officials said.

The displaced tenants would then have the opportunity to move into 327 Summer St., an adjacent building Archon/Goldman agreed to donate to the city to satisfy a requirement that 15 percent of new units be designated as affordable housing. Shen said city planners still must review the proposal to determine whether it complies with those regulations.

But he said Archon/Goldman's proposal helps to satisfy demands from the city and neighbors for more residential development in the mostly commercial neighborhood. The developer's filing with the city does not indicate whether the new units would be for rental or ownership. An executive with Archon/Goldman did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

The proposed height of the tower will likely receive sharp scrutiny during the city's review. At 269 feet, it would be the tallest building in the neighborhood, which is mostly filled with smaller flat-front warehouses.

However, 319 A St. is one of five parcels in the neighborhood where a master plan envisions significant height. The master plan allows developers of those properties to build higher than 180 feet in exchange for meeting certain obligations, such as development of more housing and civic space favored by neighbors.

One Fort Point resident involved in the planning process said the city has not been aggressive enough in getting developers to build parks and public plazas.

"We support new residential construction, but we also want to see development of the parks and other things, and it's not happening," resident Steve Hollinger said.

Shen said the city is requiring Archon/Goldman and other developers to contribute to a fund to pay for the development of those parks. He said construction has not moved forward because the parks are slated to go on property that has not yet been redeveloped.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.

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