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.