A new North End commercial development was presented this week for Cross Street between Hanover and Salem by property owner Charter Realty & Development Corporation. Often referred to as the “Gateway to the North End” and formally as 198 Hanover Street, the property is on the Freedom Trail facing the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The building currently houses Citizen’s Bank ATMs, Amy’s Nails, The Juicery and vacant space formerly occupied by Bread + Butter. Old timers will remember the long stretch of space before the Big Dig as the former Martignetti Liquors.
Charter Realty purchased the property in 2013 and is proposing a series of commercial storefronts, including restaurants/cafes/retail, that would be up to 35 feet in height to include one high ceiling first floor and a 2nd floor mezzanine.
Charter Realty plans to remove the existing building structure, including the front commercial and three residences in the rear. In its place, a new commercial complex would be built, consisting of a metal and glass design with some lower brick material.
Council members questioned the design, calling it “too modern” and not in keeping with the historical character of the North End. The presenting architect said the design is intended to meld into the existing North End with influences from the Greenway District. Attendees took issue with designing for the Greenway, given the parcel has always been part of the neighborhood and the main pathway that pedestrians enter the North End via the Freedom Trail.
News that the large billboard over the corner of Salem and Cross Streets will be permanently removed was met with positive comments.
Specific establishments have not been solicited or proposed at this stage. (Names in the renderings are fictional.) Al fresco dining and outdoor cafe tables are anticipated given the large brick plaza along Cross Street facing the Rose Kennedy Greenway’s North End Parks.
The space has proven challenging to a revolving door of businesses. Council members expressed concerns regarding tenant selection and encouraged the developer to consider how best to complement existing North End businesses. “Fit with the community” and the concern of large chains entering the neighborhood were raised as issues. Charter Realty said tenants are commit to a space until after the building is constructed.
Charter presented these plans to the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) for informational purposes this week. (View the full video at the top of this post.) The owner has also met with representatives at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and various local officials. A formal submittal to the BRA under Article 80 – Small Project Review is expected shortly.
After meeting with Inspectional Services, the owner believes the proposed design is “zoning compliant” meaning no variances are required given a floor-to-area ratio of only 1.3 (under the 3.0 North End limit) and a height of up to 35 feet (under the 55 feet North End zoning height limit). Various licenses and permits will be required once establishments are proposed for the space. The proponent will return to the neighborhood boards and city officials at that time.