The Boston Planning and Development Agency held a public meeting Tuesday to discuss rezoning in the $200 million redevelopment of an 11.6-acre site in Brighton currently home to the abandoned St. Gabriel’s Church and Monastery.
In May 2016, real estate developer Cabot, Cabot & Forbes submitted a letter of intent to build 679 housing units on the property “to serve graduate students and others engaged in teaching, training and research” and to “free up local housing for permanent neighborhood residents.”
According to a report from the City of Boston, more than 4,100 graduate students lived in private rental housing in Brighton during the 2015-2016 academic year. Nearby schools include Harvard, Boston University, and Boston College.
While the proposed project involves the construction of new buildings, it will restore and retain some existing features, including the currently-abandoned St. Gabriel’s.
In a meeting with local government officials and residents of Allston and Brighton on Monday, executives from Cabot, Cabot & Forbes responded to resident concerns by proposing an additional 15 condominium units to include a total of 100 condos. John Sullivan, the firm’s executive vice president, said his team is “focused on getting final feedback and answering questions and making changes.”
Sullivan added that he found residents concerned about a lack of diversity in housing type, especially since many home ownership rates in Allston and Brighton are relatively low. “They want to see a balance and that’s what we’ve been working on,” he said.
As part of this review phase of the project, Cabot, Cabot & Forbes is offering an online platform on which residents may comment.
On this platform, resident John Quatrale wrote, “The newly revised plan for the redevelopment of St. Gabriel’s shows that the developers have been listening and responding to neighborhood residents.... The historic rehabilitation of the Monastery, one of only of five City of Boston Landmarks in Allston-Brighton is especially exciting.”
Sullivan said that the historical preservation of the various historical landmarks, including an Olmsted Brothers-designed park, makes this project “exciting and unique” and has garnered the support of the Boston Preservation Alliance.
Since buying the land from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Cabot, Cabot & Forbes has attempted to rezone the site to expand a “conservation protection subdistrict” to preserve existing green space around the monastery.
At the meeting, residents said they were concerned about whether the conservation protection districts would conserve surrounding land. Others emphasized the difficulties of juggling Allston and Brighton’s ongoing housing development projects.
Currently in Allston, representatives from grocery store Stop & Shop recently submitted a letter of intent to build an additional 1,000 housing units. Residents said it may be easy for each company’s individual plan to get overlooked.
Other housing developments also include those proposed in the Harvard Institutional Master Plan. In addition to the building a complex at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a Life Lab, the Harvard proposal includes community benefit plans with subsidized housing near SEAS.
—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22.
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