7-Story, 66 Feet High Residential Development Proposed on 9 Cooper Street

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9 Cooper Street zoning relief applicant Elaine DiGangi with Attorney Eric Speed at February 26, 20113 NEWRA ZLC Committee meeting.

A new 7-story residential building with a total height of 66 feet is being proposed at 9 Cooper Street by new property owner Elaine DiGangi. The applicant presented the project with Attorney Eric Speed and Architect Dan Dilullo at the February 25, 2013 meeting of the NEWRA Zoning, Licensing and Construction Committee. Ms. DiGangi also operates the Heart & Sole store on Hanover Street.

The Cooper Street property is located a few doors down from Salem Street in Boston’s North End. The property was previously occupied by a funeral home. The proposed development would tear down the existing 1-story building and replace it with a new 6 unit, 7-story apartment building, including a basement.

The most discussed issue at the meeting was the proposed height that would exceed the typical 55 feet North End limit. ZLC Committee co-chair, David Kubiak, said the 55-ft height restriction is “sacred in the North End.” This limit was largely codified when the entire neighborhood was rezoned in the early 1990s.

In 1998, a similar 7-story application was submitted for the same location and several public meetings were held. In 1999, the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal approved a 6-story building with a 55′ height limit. That project was never built.

Specifically, zoning relief is being requested to exceed the allowable 3 floor-to-area ratio as the new 25′ x 27′ building would come in at a FAR of about 7. In addition to the FAR and height code violations, zoning relief is needed for insufficient usable open space, rear yard and off street parking.

Attorney Speed said this meeting was the applicant’s “first attempt to reach out to the neighborhood for feedback” on the proposed development. The owner would occupy 2 floors of the proposed building that would have 6 floor-through units in total. If the owner occupies the top floors, a private roof deck would be part of the plan. Otherwise, there will not be a common roof deck.

Abutter Carl Cincotti said he is not opposed to something new on the property, which he described as a longtime “petri-dish.” However, he said he would like the opportunity to review the plans and raised several concerns regarding the proposed height and configuration that could his restrict light and air circulation. Surrounding properties are occupied by 3 and 5-story buildings. Other issues raised at the meeting include the new fire escape configuration between adjacent buildings and common areas for maintenance and trash collection.

This presentation was for informational purposes. The ZLC Committee suggested the applicant discuss the project with abutters. NEWRA and the Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) will likely vote on the request at an upcoming meeting. Both groups are advisory and the final zoning relief decision will be made by the Zoning Board of Appeal.

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St.Mary Alum says:

55 feet for all , including north station , the waterfront, blackstone street which all have somehow been annexed from the north end. As for Gallos, the addition at the corner of snowhill street and sheafe street should be taken down. The permit issued for this testament to greed should be checked and the elevator shaft blocking an exit route for the people living ion sheafe street should be taken down or at least be checked by the fire department.to ensure the sheafe street residents have adiquite sp space to fit through in case of an emergency

Oy vey says:

Mateo Gallos building has been there for many years and I think the abutters have been on top of things. What are you talking about? .What danger? The biggest danger in that building comes from the drunken idiots he rented the penthouse to and who get off shooting fireworks from the balcony late at night.

Straight Shooter says:

You are absolutely right about Matteo Gallo, and not
only did he build up 2 stories on the existing building,
he put an Elevator on someone else’s property, but that
caught up with him legally, and he had to pay the
abutter, but the elevator was on the property before
the abutter okayed it.

Why didn’t the City & State Officials step up to the
plate for this add on?

Salem Street Resident says:

My only issue with that addition is that it is architecturally absurd looking – like somebody dropped a McMansion onto a building rooftop.

Straight Shooter says:

My biggest issue is how in God’s name did the
City & State let these people get away with it.

The No. End is a Great Place to live, but right
now the entire Neighborhood is out of hand.

When Senior Citizens in Wheelchairs are being
harrassed by 2 young men, you know we
are heading for bigger problems in the
future.

The major topic at Neighborhood Meetings are
about Liquor Licenses, Adding on to Buildings,
which isn’t a problem, if it is within 55 ft., and
we certainly do NOT need anymore restaurants &
bars.

Greed & the Love of Money is overwhelmng, and
the Hell with the Residents. Beacon Hill does not
go thru the crap the No. End does because the
Neighborhood sticks together and they get a big
attendance at their Neighborhood Meetings.

another opinion says:

There should be no exemptions. Once this starts becoming a discriminatory process, it will invite more exemptions and lawsuits when some are declined. Either don’t allow exemptions or come up with a new comprehensive plan.

NO. END LANDLORD says:

Me, you could never be a life long resident of the North
End, and ask that Salem St. be closed for outside
dining.

We have made far too many changes and they are not
to the advantage of the Resident, but to Restaurants
& Absentee Landlord.

We have enough Rats running around, we don’t have
to make it an easier for them by having outside dining.

NO. END LANDLORD says:

Me, I don’t know how long you have lived in the North
End, but the problem is NOT THE CARS, it is the
Pigs, who have moved down the North End and made
it look like the City Dump.

We survived very nicely for years with Cars on Salem St.
and other Streets in this Neighborhood.

Let us start thinking of the Residents much more than the
Tourist, we are the ones paying the extravagant taxes to
live in this Neighborhood.

You think having a Car is a Luxury in the North End, and
maybe it is to you and others, but we have made far too
many changes down here to accomodate everyone but
the Residents. The Neighborhood has changed, we all
realize that, but those of us who have been here all of
our lives & want to continue living here should not be
punished for Restaurants & Absentee Landlords.
The North End is my HOME, it is not some pit stop to hold
me over until I decide where I want to live or go in my life..

Most of these Restaurants make anywhere from 20,000 to
$50,000 on a Saturday Nite alone, and these Absentee
Landlords are making a killing off of these dumpy apts.
they are renting, and now you want to close Salem St.
down for outside dining, and not be concerned about the
Residents. You probably do not have a car, but there
are plenty of people who happen to go back & forth to
their jobs & need their cars.

andy says:

totally agree w/North End Landlord.

me – I usually agree with your commentary here on NEW, but you’re off-base here. It’s not even a feasible option, so no need to keep arguing it.

Me says:

keep the street open for commercial deliveries and cabs, just remove the residential parking. if you want to have a car, which is an absolutely unnecessary luxury in the North End, you should have to pay.

BL says:

Again, while cars may be an “unnecessary luxury” for YOU, for some people they need a car for their job. Why should the North End be the only residential neighborhood in the city with no parking for its residents?

Me says:

I am not advocating for NO PARKING in the North End (that would be stupid), just the development of Salem Street between the Greenway and Prince Street to reduce the number of residential parking spots in order to make a wider sidewalk/walking street.

You happen to need a car for your job, and I understand that – - but why penalize the majority of the residents (who don’t have cars) because you choose to live in a neighborhood that is notoriously difficult for parking? Nothing is preventing you from moving to a more convenient location closer to your job.

Have you seen how many people walk in the road because the sidewalks are too narrow to handle the volume of pedestrians? It is really dangerous. Have you seen the lines and crowds of people outside of restaurants on Salem on weekends, essentially blocking the sidewalk?

Part of the Cross Street (between Hanover and Salem) development proposal is based on how likely it is that a car will run over a pedestrian.

The City could permit overnight residential parking elsewhere to account for the loss of spots (we’re talking about maybe 30 spots). It would not be difficult to do this, seriously, just a little signage.

BL says:

Please take your condescending “I’m better than you because I don’t have a car” attitude back with you wherever you came from. I shouldn’t have to move out of the only Boston neighborhood I’ve ever lived in because the city wants to make my neighborhood more tourist friendly.
And please back up your “most residents don’t own cars” claim. Every spot on every street is usually full. That, to any sane person, indicates that a large percentage of residents do in fact own cars. So many, in fact, that the demand far outpaces the supply. Face it…you’re very wrong.

BL says:

Keep it at 55′ or below, just like everyone else. Plus, I don’t think they need to be adding “living units” to the neighborhood without adding parking. We already are WAY below the amount of required parking spaces for the amount of residents, no need to add a possible 6 new families. If Boston wants to keep allowing construction of more units in the area they need to figure out something to do about parking (maybe a residents’ lot somewhere?).

SMS says:

Cars are a luxury in a city and those who wish to keep them should pay for that luxury. Baking in space for parking not only makes many of these development projects financially unfeasible but are also urban blights and poor use of precious city landscape. With the cities current housing shortage I strongly support development projects that dedicate more resources to residential units than parking spots.

Me says:

Completely agree with SMS. Parking should even be considered for residential development projects in the City. Buildings with parking garages will command higher purchase prices, which they deserve, and those w/o a spot will have to rent one, use the T, or join a ZipCar service.

Honestly, the neighborhood would be better if there was NO parking on some streets. Consider whether Salem St. would be better off as a pedestrian promenade (commercial vehicles and cabs only) like Downtown Crossing. Add cobblestones in lieu of pot holed pavement and expand the sidewalks to allow for al fresco dining. It seems like an obvious choice!

Straight Shooter says:

Me, You have to be a restaurant owner, or

have some connection with one in order for you to

make the statement you made, al fresco dining.

I would love to know what street you live on.

There should be NO VISITORS PARKING AND
ALL SPACES RESERVED FOR THE RESIDENTS.

Enough is Enough, are you kidding me?

Me says:

I am just a resident who owns a condo near the Old North Church. No connection to any restaurants.

My thought is to have a pedestrian way on Salem Street akin to what you see in Italy or Greece. Kind of like the cobblestone block over by Union Street/Hanover Street in Haymarket area.

As it is Salem is a narrow street, with even narrower sidewalks, that receives lots and lots of foot traffic from the restaurants and shops. People are walking in front of cars all the time and it is dangerous. Get rid of the parking and we could have space for outdoor seating at restaurants, a bike lane, and wider sidewalks.

andy says:

most of the parking that takes place on salem is commercial with deliveries, drop offs and pickups. residents only park there after 6pm. removing 30+ resident spots to make the street nicer for visitors is a pretty bad idea.

BL says:

To YOU, cars may be a luxury. To some others (like me) a car is REQUIRED for my job that is not in downtown. I have to drive all over southern New England during the week, so is your solution that I shouldn’t live in the North End? Please, enlighten me.
And on the idea of making Salem a “walking street”…NO! The difference between the North End and Downtown Crossing is that the North End is still a residential neighborhood with businesses, and not a commercial district. Too many people live on and around Salem Street to make it workable.

Me says:

Yes, that is exactly my idea. If you need a car for your work, park it elsewhere. Rent a spot. Move out of the neighborhood if you have to. i’m sure you can sell your place for a pretty penny these days and move to Medford.

We give way too much emphasis on parking in making decisions for our community. the fact is that most people in the neighborhood do not own cars.

Salem Street is a commercial street now, plain and simple. Tours of people walking up and down the road, restaurant patrons, tourists, etc. If we want to keep the neighborhood attractive to outside money we are going to need to sacrifice some things, like a block of residential parking.

BL says:

If most people in the neighborhood don’t own cars, why is parking damn near impossible most evenings (you know, when people return from work)? Let me ask you this…do you work, and if so where in the area?
And while Salem may be a commercial street now, there are too many other connecting one-way streets to make it possible to cut off that road from traffic. It’s a dumb idea, please stop defending it.

Me says:

There are three one way streets off Salem from the start to halfway at Richmond (Polcari). Shouldn’t be that hard to make those dead ends.

rd says:

I have know idea where you are employed, but there are residents of this community that need their vehicles
to commute to their place of employment… outside the city!!!…Nurses that are on call need their vehicles.. NOT A ZIP CAR!!!
Living in the North End does not mean you live in a fish bowl…
get real

SBW says:

I agree with what others are saying. Was any reason given at the meeting why the building’s height should be allowed to exceed 55ft – because I cannot imagine what reasonable explanation there could be. The height limit ensures the preservation of relatively low buildings which are part of what gives this neighborhood its charm and character. I hope that this plan will be firmly and definitively opposed by the community.

mc says:

How many more exceptions to the rules are we going to continue to make for people? Follow the rules and the codes – no exceptions should be made. 55 feet is 55 feet – there is no need for a 6 story building exceeding that. Really what is the need for that excess?

Straight Shooter says:

When rules & regulations say 55 ft. is the limit, that’s

it. Are there others in the Neighborhood that got away

with over 55 ft., absolutely and I blame City &

State Officials. I heard of one case on or near

Snow Hill St., where they started some kind of

construction on the roof and the City forced them to

tear in down. Bravo, it is about time.

MB says:

Do you mean that unbelievably out-of-character 2-floor monstruosity plunked onto the top of the building at Snow Hill and Sheaffe? It look to me like nobody stopped it :-D

Oy vey says:

That ugly addition on Matteo Gallo’s building at the corner of Snow Hill and Sheafe Sts was constructed pre 55 ft height zoning restricition.

C. Colarusso says:

55 ft for one and all

Ellen says:

Build whatever you want, if it meets zoning. The variances are simply an effort at more personal benefit (profit and views) with costs to the neighborhood of less sunlight, more crowding, erosion of any height restrictions.

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