Community members voiced strong opposition at a Wednesday night meeting regarding a proposal for a 147 foot high (before roof mechanicals) hotel project in the West End’s Bulfinch Triangle on North Washington Street adjacent to the North End.
Dubbed the “skinny hotel” or “88NOWA”, the project would be at 88 N. Washington Street at the corner of Valenti Way. The proposal includes construction of a new 39,999 gross square foot structure with a 13 level, 74 key hotel on the 2,159 sf parcel.
Proponents attending the meeting were property owner Thomas McKay, development consultant Fred Mannix of Portland Building Associates and Stefan Vogelmann of CBT Architects. Hosting the meeting was the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services. The project is under “Article 80 Small Project Review” by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, although the BRA was not at the meeting (see the end of this post for a follow-up from the BRA).
Proponents emphasized the benefits of replacing the corner parking lot eyesore at the site which is adjacent to the 160 foot high Murano building currently under construction. On the other side of the location, is 90 N. Washington Street where Ward 8 restaurant is located on the ground floor. Across from the Murano and proposed 88NOWA project is expected to be a small park called Valenti Square.
Among the 30-odd attendees, residents living on N. Washington Street and at the Strada building on Causeway Street expressed their concerns that the height exceeds zoning of 100 feet in the Bulfinch Triangle. At 147 feet (before 10-15 feet in mechanicals) the 88NOWA hotel will be slightly below that of the neighboring Murano which is 160 feet. Neighbors noted that the 100 feet limit has been repeatedly exceeded by the ongoing developments in the area.
“It’s frankly obnoxious,” said a board member from the Strada building where views of the Custom House and the downtown skyline would be lost. “We’re tired of this after having the Murano shoved down our throat. It’s 60 feet too tall,” he added vowing to use the legal system to fight the project.
The no-frills, 13-floor hotel was said to serve the $180/night price point and with a small cafe on the 2nd floor. Most floors will have 5 micro-rooms, about 200 square feet with one queen bed.
Other non-abutter community members cited general traffic/parking concerns, violation of existing zoning and questioned the need for another hotel project in the neighborhood. “Even before the loss of sight corridors and inappropriate density, the last thing we need is another hotel,” said a North Street resident. Another North End resident took issue with how the 88NOWA proposal extends into the existing public sidewalk space and narrows access at the intersection of Valenti Way and N. Washington Street.
Host Maria Lanza from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said a North Station area traffic study is expected to be released in the coming weeks. The first of its kind analysis of transportation issues in the area is being funded by developers in the West End area.
The BRA is expected to host a public meeting as part of its Small Project Review, although the extended process that comes with large Project Notification Form, is not required. Interested parties can submit comments to the Mayor’s Office through Maria Lanza (firstname.lastname@example.org) and to Phil Cohen, BRA Project Manager (email@example.com).
May 17, 2016 update from BRA Project Manager, Phil Cohen:
“The 88 North Washington development team filed a Small Project Review Application with the BRA on March 30, 2016 which opened a public comment period. In light of the fact that we have not held a BRA-sponsored community meeting, the comment period will be extended until at least June 30, 2016. The BRA is committed to listening to the community and plans to host an official public meeting once the development team has completed preliminary outreach.”