The Boston Redevelopment Authority and Equity Residential had their first presentation on the 45 Worthington Street 35-story tower project on December 10th, 2014. Despite the rainy weather and holiday time period, there was a very large turnout of more that 100 people from the community to learn about the project. The architect, ICON Architecture of Boston, presented drawings of the proposed building. Also in attendance were representatives for councilors Zakim, Wu, Presley, Flaherty, and Murphy as well as representatives from the offices State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez.
Of one of the many concerns of those in attendance was the lack of representation of neighbors directly abutting the proposed project on the Impact Advisory Group. Within one day prior to the meeting, the IAG had 10 members, though none from Worthington or Wigglesworth Streets. The IAG can have as many as 15 members. Through direct advocacy from Councilor Zakim's office, an additional 5 members were added.
Members of the IAG for this project include: Dave Welch, Richard Giordano, Patricia Flaherty, Willie Pearl Clark, Betty Walker, Luann Witkowski, Maggie Cohn, John Jackson, Susan St. Clair, Adrian Perez, Lois Regestein, Michel Soltani, Ellen Moore, Dermot Doyne, and Cynthia Walling
More than 91 Mission Hill residents joined our elected Representatives and their staff at the January 22, 2015 community meeting in the Music Room of Mission Church. About 12 people from the Stop the Tower coalition made presentations on each of the problems that the Tower would create (density, traffic, parking, and increased transiency), the zoning violations, the precedent it would set and the other developments that are waiting to see if the Tower goes through.
The presenters talked about how Mission Hill has a long history of successful, community sponsored developments and of negotiating with private developers to build projects that address community needs.
After the very convincing presentation by the organizers, Councilors Zakim and Pressley, Representative Sanchez and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz all spoke in complete opposition to the proposal. They congratulated the community on their organizing and for the strong showing. They also warned of the need to keep organizing, opposing the project and getting emails, letters and petitions in to the BRA, the Mayor, and the rest of the elected officials.
Representatives from the Mayor’s Office and Councilors Wu and Flaherty were all there and promised to carry back the message of the Mission Hill’s strong opposition to the Tower. There was a round of questions and answers where those present contributed lots of information and questions and everyone resolved to keep organizing against the proposal.
Below is the announcement for the January 22nd meeting:
Neighbors of the Mission Hill Neighborhood have invited our elected officials to open meeting to discuss the neighborhood's concerns about the 45 Worthington Street Project. The meeting will be held in the Music Room of Mission Church on January 22nd at 6:30pm.
OPPOSE THE 35 STORY TOWER AT 45 WORTHINGTON STREET Meet with neighbors and elected officials January 22, 6:30 pm Music Room, Mission Church
The proposal is to construct a 35 story residential tower on the parking lot behind the City View high rise at 75 St. Alphonsus (formerly known as Back Bay Tower). Don’t let it happen! Here’s why:
Height: The building would be almost twice is high as the existing high rises along St. Alphonsus Street. The developers haven’t given a height, but the 33 story State Street Bank Building downtown is 477 feet tall.
Zoning. The proposed building is exponentially bigger than current zoning permits. Current zoning limits height to 75 feet. Current zoning calls for a floor/area ratio of 3; this ratio is already surpassed by the existing City View building, making the project MUCH TOO DENSE Zoning requirements are put in place to ensure that new projects are suitable for the community, and this project violates all of them.
Traffic: The proposal is for traffic to enter from Smith and Worthington Streets, which are one lane streets. Traffic will be backed up on to Huntington Avenue, making congestion even worse.
Not Family-friendly: The proposal is for studio, one and two bedroom rental units—395 of them, all at market rate.
CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS, AND ASK THEM TO OPPOSE THE PROJECT AT 45 Worthington
Mayor Martin Walsh: email@example.com
Boston City Councilors
Josh Zakim: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Wu: Michelle.Wu@boston.gov
Michael Flaherty: Michael.F.Flaherty@boston.gov
Ayanna Pressley: Ayanna.Pressley@boston.gov
Stephen Murphy: Stephen.Murphy@boston.gov
State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez: Jeffrey.Sanchez@mahouse.gov
State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz: Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov
Mayor’s Mission HIll Neighborhood Liaison Shaina Aubourg: Shaina.Aubourg@cityofboston.gov
The January 9th issue of the Mission Hill Gazette featured an article on the opposition to Equity Residential's project a 45 Worthington Street. A link to the article is here.
Out of scale and wrong for the Mission Hill Neighborhood of Boston.
The February 27, 2015 edition of the Boston Globe featured an article about Paul Barrett, vice president for Equity Residential who was overseeing Equity's project in the West End and is currently overseeing its proposal for 75 St. Alphonsus Street in Mission HIll. The article recounts an incident where Mr. Barrett intimidated a member of the Impact Advisory Group for their proposed West End Project. This incident is understandably of concern for residents of Mission Hill. The article can be view here
The Mission Hill Gazette has reported that Equity Residential is revising their proposal for 45 Worthington Street. The full article, published on February 6, 2015, can be found here. According to the Gazette, Equity "is going back to the drawing board after receiving feedback from the Impact Advisory Group (IAG), according to Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) spokesperson Nick Martin...The developers are revising the project proposal based on feedback prior to filing a Project Notification Form and going back out to the neighborhood for public comment. We don’t currently have an estimate on when the revised plans will be unveiled,” Martin said in an email to the Gazette." This move by Equity Residential was anticipated by the neighborhood from the outset. It is still important to remember that their proposed site already does not comply to zoning--the existing Cityview building (75 St. Alphonsis) exceeds the maximum height of 75 feet and exceeds the floor area density by more than 86,000 square feet. Any additional building added to that site would not comply with existing zoning and would be a burden to the neighborhood.
The remnants of the January 26/27th storm on Worthington Street. These photos were taken on Saturday, January 31st with a storm predicted to bring an additional 8-14 inches on Monday February 2nd and more the next few days.
On March 23rd, Boston Redevelopment Authority Director Brian Golden met with residents of Mission Hill including neighbors from Worthington and Wigglesworth Streets to take a walking tour of Equity Residential's proposed 45 Worthington Street site and the Mission Hill Triangle Historic District which immediately abuts the site. Later, Mr. Golden joined residents for coffee and discussion in the living room of a longtime Worthington Street resident. It was a cordial and open discussion about our concerns with the proposal as well as our hopes for more community driven development and open dialogue with the BRA. We were honored that Mr. Golden chose to meet with us in an informal setting and to be so generous with his time. The meeting was attended by 30 or so Mission Hill Residents, a majority of the Impact Advisory Group for the project, and a representative of State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez's office. The Mission Hill Gazette featured a story about this meeting in their April 3rd edition. That article can be read here. The Gazette's opinion page also had an editorial about the meeting in its April 3rd edition. That editorial can be read here.
While Mission Hill residents anticipate Equity Residential's new proposal for 75 St. Alphonsus Street, we still question whether any project that increases density to this already dense site is in the best interest for the neighborhood. Below is a picture taken on March 1, 2015 of the dumpster/trash collection area for Equity's CityView apartments (75 St. Alphonsus). While the fence surrounding it is a recent addition from the Summer of 2014, the overflowing dumpsters are a common sight for residents in the area. This problem is most acute during student turnover in June and September. Equity has a master lease with Emmanuel College to house its students*. If Equity has trouble managing the trash generated by its current 295 units, what confidence should its neighbors have that it would be able to manage the trash generated by over 600 units?
*The harsh irony is not lost on the neighborhood that 75 St. Alphonsus--built as a result of the destruction of Whitney Street by eminent domain during Urban Renewal in the early 1960s to provide decent affordable housing for the displaced residents of Mission Hill--is currently owned by a private corporation and houses students from a private college.
If Equity Residential were to build their 45 Worthington Street 385 unit luxury high-rise it would squeeze hundreds of more cars and up to a 1000 more people coming and going on this narrow street. This street was laid out in the late 19th century and cannot handle that kind of traffic and congestion--with a storm like this it would be impossible to navigate and restrict access for emergency vehicles. They are planning on 270 spaces to be shared with more that 600 units--where will those cars park in a storm like this? Additionally, Equity's building would have no set back, meaning that the building would be built right up to the sidewalk. Having a set back provides space for front gardens and landscaping in keeping with the look of the neighborhood--but more importantly it gives you a place to put excess snow from the sidewalk and walkways to the building. Where would this building put all their snow? Their site plan does not allow for piling up excess snow from their driveways, access road, and walkways.
Equity Residential submitted its Letter of Intent to the Boston Redevelopment Authority on October 20, 2014
No Mission Hill Tower