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https://youtu.be/6Gs6fs2EvCM

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.

Proposed Cross Street Plaza at Hanover - Aerial View (Charter Realty Image)
Proposed Cross Street Plaza at Hanover – Aerial View (Charter Realty Image)

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.

View from Hanover Street of Cross Street proposed development (Charter Realty image)
View from Hanover Street of Cross Street proposed development (Charter Realty image)

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.

View from Salem Street of Cross Street commercial development (Charter Realty image)
View from Salem Street of Cross Street commercial development (Charter Realty image)

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.

Nighttime Cross Street from Greenway
Night rendering of Cross Street from Greenway (Charter Realty image)
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24 COMMENTS

  1. It does seem too modern. This style is everywhere and will end up looking very dated. How about keeping it more in line with the existing North End.

    Putting a hardware store in this area would be a major contribution to residents.

  2. The night time rendering is VERY LIT UP!! Way too bright for the neighborhood. We are becoming more aware of light pollution and its effect on health so why would they illuminate this block this way? With the Development of LED and its cost efficiency, folks have forgotten that LIGHT itself is a form of pollution. This kind of illumination will distract from illumination of the neighboring landmarks – Custom House and Zakim Bridge.

    While attractive ( really so so) in the suburbs, the challenge here is to be the entrance to the historic North End. I would love to see very old photos of Cross Street and see if a tasteful recreation is possible.

    Come on developers!! You have a wonderful opportunity to do so much better. Spend some time walking through the North End to see, hear and smell the centuries gone by.

  3. My feelings are that with that design you eliminate the history of the area. The building should be more commemorative of the people whose lives in America began their roots in the North End. Lets leave some charm and heritage for the future.

  4. i can see it now. a certain north end restaurateur with a knack for the tourist set will lease the space just so he can adorn it with two-story pictures of himself. saluti!

  5. The renderings do look very bright, perhaps too bright. But it’s important to remember that what the North End looked like at a certain moment in time, say 1900-1950, is not necessarily the way it should look for time immemorial. This is a live city, not a neighborhood frozen in time.

  6. We’d all love to see local shops at this Gateway to The North End. The developers can say they will give first priority to small business owners, but the prices to lease the space will be so high that only national or international chain stores will be able to afford the rent. At the very least … the building should have more brick and less lighting to fit in with the character of the historic North End, not the modern design of the Greenway.

  7. It’s a nice open design with lots of glass and interaction with the large pedestrian area out front. A typical brick facade with small windows does not do justice facing the broad expanse of the greenway. This is a bookend site, a transition area between the North End and the res of the city. Lets be creative!

    • Who said anything about “small windows”? Using brick instead of metal and toning down the night lighting would be a more appropriate design for The North End.

    • David: Nice take on the project. It is an entrance way to the NE, and very inviting for people. I doubt very much that the lighting will interfere with the Zakim Bridge, as someone posted. When you think of it, Salem St could use some sprucing up and perhaps this more modern, open design will help.

  8. These Developers already got the okay from the B.R.A., and if anyone thinks these plans are going to be changed to fit with the rest of the neighborhood, they are out of their minds. The City is doing
    exactly what the City wants to do. The name of the game is MONEY. This is not going to be the 1st
    Project residents or businesses object to & believe me, it won’t be the last. We have much bigger issues than
    this, the North End Nursing Home & Rehab. is a much bigger issue. We have a War on our Hands
    & I hope to God we all stick together & “WIN”. This issue affects the North End more than the
    design on Cross & Hanover Sts. I do not know what these developers purchased this property for,
    but you don’t think for 1 minute, the residents & restaurant owners are going to dictate their project,
    suggestions, maybe, but they are going to do exactly what they want to do. The City okayed it.

    If residents had their say, we would not have an over abundance of Restaurants the way we do
    today, but the City being as GREEDY as they are could careless about the residents, they want
    the Revenue all these establishments take in, and that is the Bottom Line, like it or not.

  9. Too much glass, it would be nice if designer or developers would add more of the traditional brick look that would blend in with other surrounding buildings, this looks too contemporary for that area of the North End.

  10. The real question should be around the economics. The facade of the space is not the reason that a sandwich shop owned by a major restauranteur, a pasta shop owned by the other big player in the north end, and a high end bakery have all failed there in the last 3 years. Why will developing the land and raising the rents give us a better chance for long term tenants?

    Also think that this developer would be crazy not to create an opportunity for someone to build a roof top garden bar. The sunlight on this space is great year round and a casual restaurant with garden bar on the roof would be an incredible success.

    • shhhhhh… you can’t say the B-A-R word without people saying the neighborhood is turning into Las Vegas and drunk people will be everywhere ruining the neighborhood….

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