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Wharf District Council Meeting Reports: High St. Pod-Style Hotel, State St. Renovation, Pinnacle Project Update

The Wharf District Council (WDC) held its October meeting on Tuesday, October 20 via Zoom. A number of notable reports and community updates were included as part of a full agenda.

Elsey Partners “Pod-Style Hotel” at 188 High St.

Exterior view of Elsey Partners planned “Pod-Style Hotel” on 188 High St

Kansas-based developer Elsey Partners, represented by owner Chris Elsey and Senior Architect Brad Buser, appeared before the Council to discuss their 188 High St. development project: a “pod-style” hotel.

Referred to by Elsey as an alternative between “a hostel and a regular hotel” that would primarily target transient and price-conscious travelers, the proposed development would consist of 12 floors with the majority of space accommodating the pod units themselves.

The previous property owner obtained approval for a 50 key hotel with variances that have been received: permitting a height of 130 ft and a depth of approximately 60 ft. Elsey indicated that they’d like to stay within the current building envelope.

With the project quite early in its development cycle, Elsey and Buser acknowledged the unique challenges from an approvals and life-safety perspective, particularly with COVID-19 in mind.

The team also faced questions from the Council on comparative examples, property dimensions, and design choices. The Council decided to hold an executive session following the public meeting to discuss the project further.

John Romano, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services

North End/West End Neighborhood Liasion John Romano briefed the WDC on some important City of Boston updates:

State Street Renovation Discussion

The Healthy Streets Pilot Project has entered its second phase, affecting State St. with striping on wider sidewalks and bike lanes. Another virtual public presentation will be uploaded later this week to the project website alongside additional updates.

In a sub-discussion, Council members strongly expressed their unease over the project potentially eliminating two-lane traffic on State St., with WDC President Marc Margulies asserting:

“The community that lives and works here (and tries to get the hell out of here on occasion) understands that State St. must be two lanes of traffic. If it is proposed as a single lane, we will collectively make as much noise as a community group can possibly make because it will not work regardless of how pretty it may look.”

Members agreed on writing a letter of concern, with John Romano stating that he would relay Council concerns as well.

The Pinnacle at Central Wharf Project Status

Rob Caridad, The Chiofaro Company’s Project Manager for the Pinnacle Project reported recieiving MEPA’s (Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act) scoping determination and expects to receive additional findings including the BPDA (Boston Planning and Development Agency’s) over the next several weeks.

Caridad reported next steps including conversations, analysis on compliance with BPDA Design Use Standards, and integration of all feedback received.

The Climate Ready Downtown Boston study was originally on the October WDC agenda but was moved to the November meeting. The next Wharf District Council meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 17th.

View the full meeting by clicking here. Use password: p9EnBku$