BPDA Approves Project at 656 Saratoga St.

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Article from the Eastern Boston Times, written by John Lynds
At its last meeting of the year the Boston Planning and Development (BPDA) approved the 30 unit rental project proposed for a large vacant lot on Saratoga Street.

Developer MG2 plans to develop the 16,500 sq. ft. vacant lot at 656 Saratoga St. into market rate rental housing by combining six parcels on the lot into one developable parcel.

The original plan would have MG2 erect a five story, 50 ft. building. The building would have included 62 units with a mix of studio, one and two-bedroom units and retail opportunity on the ground floor. A later scaled down version then called for 43 units of market rate rentals that would be a mix of studio, one and two-bedroom units and 39 parking spaces and eliminated the retail component.

However, the community still felt at five stories and over 50 ft. tall the building was uncharacteristic of the surrounding neighborhood and sent MG2 back to the drawing board. MG2 then lowered the building to four stories and 40 units with 30 parking spaces. This was the plan that was rejected by members of the HVNA at a meeting a few months back.

At last month’s HVNA meeting MG2’s attorney, Richard Lynds, said his client has reduced the number of units to 30 and knocked an entire floor off the building, bringing the height down to just under 32 ft. at three stories.

As currently proposed, the 30 residential units are anticipated to consist of 14 studio units, seven one-bedroom units, and nine two-bedroom units.

This project will also include a financial contribution of $28,500 to be used toward the relocation of the MBTA bus stop and shelter on westbound Bennington Street/Moore Street on the Route 120 to the far side of the intersection. This transportation enhancement will improve operations on the Route 120 bus and improve pedestrian safety. In addition, a $3,000 contribution to the Salesian Boys and Girls Club Incorporated will be used for general operating capital for the club, which provides athletic, tutoring, dance, cooking, and educational programming for local children. Another contribution of $3,500 to the Veronica Robles Cultural Center Corp. will be used for general operating capital needed to sustain and implement youth programs which include art making, dance, and musical activities.

In its ruling the BPDA said the project makes progress towards Mayor Martin Walsh’s goal of increasing affordable housing to support a strong middle-class. The project includes four “income restricted” units. Earlier this fall in response to increased population growth, Mayor Walsh announced updated housing targets supporting the creation of new affordable housing, increased access to homeownership opportunities, and preventing displacement of residents.