Monday, May 24, 2010

Chestnut Hill Square is back on the boards

Update: the TAB had many of the details a few weeks ago.

Update II: The Land Use report's 800,000 sq. ft. number for the previous proposal seemed high. Here's a contemporary TAB article that puts the figure at 245,000 sq. ft. plus 226 residential units. Here are my thoughts on the main subject of the article.

From the report of the May 11 Land Use committee meeting (link currently broken), New England Development is now proposing a 245,000 sq. ft. development with 90 1- and 2-bedroom residential units for Chestnut Hill Square, on the 11.5 acre site of the former Omni supermarket. That's down from 800,000 sq. ft. and 225 residential units. (See note above.) Not clear how the new development will be massed, but the report says a height of 8 stories, which is lower than the two originally proposed 14-story residential towers over the commercial space.

The 245,000 sq. ft. break down as follows:

  • 50,000 -- grocery store
  • 105,000 -- other retail/restaurant
  • 30,000 -- health club
  • 60,000 -- medical office

Note, that the residential units are in addition to the 245,000 sq. ft., not part of it (a point of some confusion the last go 'round).

Besides the (possible?) reduction in space, two other big differences -- based on this limited information: 1) programming, specifically the shift from retail/restaurant to some medical office space, and 2) a curb cut on Florence Street.

The decreased intensity of the use should please a lot of people. And, ninety residential units is still a substantial commitment to making this a mixed-use development. Among the questions to be answered as the proposal is rolled-out: how well integrated is the development. The previous version did a terrible job along the Boylston St./Route 9 side and did not offer adequate pedestrian integration with the surrounding, densely residential neighborhood. And, the curb cut on Florence Street is sure to be a source of controversy.

Why was New England Development before Land Use? To take up New England Development's offer to pay for peer-review of the traffic studies. Apparently, New England Development wants to break ground this year and paying for peer-review will move things along. Land Use authorized New England Development's request.

New England Development is planning to file for a Special Permit at the end of July, with a public hearing in September.

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