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

  1. Ellen Sat, Mar. 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    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.

  2. C. Colarusso Sun, Mar. 3, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    55 ft for one and all

  3. Straight Shooter Sun, Mar. 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    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 Wed, Mar. 6, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      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 Wed, Mar. 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

        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.

  4. mc Sun, Mar. 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    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?

  5. SBW Sun, Mar. 3, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    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.

  6. BL Mon, Mar. 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    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 Mon, Mar. 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      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 Mon, Mar. 4, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

        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 Mon, Mar. 4, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

          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 Mon, Mar. 4, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

            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 Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 9:46 am #

              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 Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 11:11 am #

        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 Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 11:21 am #

          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 Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 11:30 am #

            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 Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 11:49 am #

              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 Wed, Mar. 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

        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

  7. Me Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    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 Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 11:12 am #

      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 Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 11:38 am #

        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 Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

          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.

  8. NO. END LANDLORD Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    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 Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      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.

  9. NO. END LANDLORD Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    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.

  10. another opinion Tue, Mar. 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    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.

  11. St.Mary Alum Thu, Mar. 7, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    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 Fri, Mar. 8, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      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 Fri, Mar. 8, 2013 at 9:55 am #

        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 Fri, Mar. 8, 2013 at 10:07 am #

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

          • Straight Shooter Fri, Mar. 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

            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.

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