Community calls for green space at South End lot

Boston Planning & Development Agency senior manager for dispositions Reay Pannesi spoke about developing a vacant lot on Jan. 30 at the Castle Square community room. (Image courtesy of Ling-Mei Wong.)

A vacant land parcel at 142 Shawmut Avenue was discussed on Jan. 30 at the Castle Square community room, with about 50 attendees. The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) owns the lot and sought public input for its future development.

BPDA senior planner Marie Mercurio said, “The parcel is next to the Lucas development on 136 Shawmut and was previously licensed as a construction lay down site for the Lucas.”

The yellow highlighted area represents the 142 Shawmut Avenue vacant lot. (Image courtesy of the Boston Planning & Development Agency.)

The rectangular lot is about 8,543 square feet on 140 Shawmut Avenue, with the Lucas condos on the left. On the right is an L-shaped parking lot, along with a former Verizon building owned by the Druker Companies. It does not go from Shawmut Avenue to Washington Street but is used with the L-shaped lot as a pedestrian shortcut.

“The goal for this discussion is to obtain neighborhood feedback for a possible request for proposals (RFP) to private development that would seek community benefit from the parcel,” said Reay Pannesi, BPDA senior manager for dispositions. The meeting began the public process to put the lot on the market, before the BPDA issues an RFP based on local input.

Castle Square is across from the city’s lot. The public housing community has 500 affordable units, along with 13 commercial tenants.

“Castle Square Tenant Organization (CSTO) would like 142 Shawmut Avenue to be a green space,” said CSTO executive director Deborah Backus. “We do not want to be overwhelmed with apartment buildings.”

The Lucas condos are on the site of the former Holy Trinity Church, which was sold by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston in 2014. As the Lucas’s 33 condos use the existing puddingstone shell, its building does not cast new shadows. Attendees voiced concerns about density in the South End and how a new building at the 142 Shawmut lot could cast nearby three-story buildings into darkness.

On the left of the Lucas development is Boston Chinese Evangelical Church (BCEC), which owns the former location of South Cove Manor Nursing home at 120 Shawmut Avenue. BCEC Senior Pastor Steven Chin asked about ownership of the parking lot and Verizon building, along with development plans, as the lot is critical for access.

The lot’s zoning is an economic development area; the ground floor would maximize retail, but housing could be on upper floors, Mercurio said. It is about 50 feet wide by 1,000 feet long, with a floor-to-area ratio of 4, for a maximum height of four stories.

The BPDA’s comment period for 142 Shawmut Avenue closes Feb. 14. Individuals can call (617) 918-6239 or comment online at www.bostonplans.org/planning/planning-initiatives/142-shawmut-avenue-disposition-planning.

Castle Square Tenant Organization executive director Deborah Backus spoke at the planning meeting. (Image courtesy of Ling-Mei Wong.)

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About Ling-Mei Wong 黃靈美

Editor of the Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England 舢舨報紙總編輯。舢舨是全紐英倫唯一的中英雙語雙週報。
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