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Old 05-13-2008, 12:46 AM   #41
Mike
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Re: 212 Stuart St

Ten-story building proposed for site on Stuart Street
By Scott Van Voorhis
Tuesday, May 13, 2008


The long-defunct Jae?s restaurant would be replaced by an office and retail complex in the latest redevelopment project along the Stuart Street corridor.

Brighton developer Nicholas Heras is proposing a 10-story building at 212-222 Stuart St., now home to the shuttered Jae?s, a one-story parking garage and empty lot.

It is the second attempt to redevelop the site. A 2005 plan to build condos at the site fell through.

The latest proposal, by Heras? company, Hera Development Corp., comes as a number of new developments take shape along the key boulevard that connects the Theater District with the Back Bay.

Not far away, a trio of other major projects are in the works.

A 25-story W Hotel and condo building is going up in the heart of the Theater District, while a residential and retail complex is planned for a lot next to the Wilbur Theatre.

In the other direction, where Stuart Street meets the Back Bay, a 32-story condo and apartment tower is coming together at the corner of Stuart and Clarendon streets.

?There is a lot going on in that area,? said Jessica Shumaker, a spokeswoman for the BRA. ?At least two underutilized sites will be coming back on line soon.?

Heras could not be reached for comment. But in plans submitted to City Hall, the developer provides details for a 10-story building.

The 67,000-square-foot space includes a coffee shop or retail on the first floor, a possible health club on the second floor and offices above that.






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Old 05-13-2008, 12:55 AM   #42
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Re: 212 Stuart St

If NIMBYs in Bay Village protest, lord help me. The design looks boring but it doesn't look bad.
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Old 05-13-2008, 11:47 AM   #43
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Re: 212 Stuart St

it does look boring but somewhat similar to the former Tower Records building on the corner of Mass Ave/Newbury..

not a project I'd get excited over, but not a bad one either I guess.
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Old 05-13-2008, 11:49 AM   #44
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Re: 212 Stuart St

Bay Village has already signed off on this one, at least in concept.

For some reason, the "Powers that Be" (some combination of Historical and the BRA - definitely not the neighborhood) have insisted that the deveoper maintain both facades, the Deco facade on Stuart Street (itself a 1930s reskin of a much older building) and the Gothic facade on Shawmut Street (the original Hope Chapel). This presents a significant challenge for the architect, as the elements aren't very coherent to begin with.

Ironically, the initial meetings between the developer and the neighborhood were more congenial than the meetings between the neighborhood and the BRA. The developer appeared happy to incorporate some modest set-backs and establish a lower cornice line on the Shawmut and Church Street sides that would at least nod to the prevailing height of Bay Village - and also showed some flexibility on the subject of materials. (The neighborhood itself is of mixed views as to whether more or less brick is a good thing).

The BRA, playing architect, concluded that some of the renderings that pleased the neighborhood were "too fussy" and pushed for a monolithic box. I can't tell from this rendering, which shows only the Stuart side, as to how that debate finally played out, or even if it has been fully settled.

It's difficult to understand the politics and who exactly is calling the shots on detail design decisions - but unless it's all an elaborate game of "good cop/bad cop" it does not seem to be the developer. Why should these facades be saved and the Dainty Dot (or Shreve) not? It's also irritating that the BRA weighs in on architectural matters without bothering to defend their positions. There's some amount of grumbling in Bay Village about the street-level and roof level detailing at One Charles across the street - a few armchair quarterbacks think that they could have done a better job than the "experts" at the BRA who worked with that developer. Sadly, they are probably correct.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:11 PM   #45
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Re: 212 Stuart St

This sounds like the second recent case where a developer had a design that wasn't atrocious, but the BRA then hammered out a "compromise" to turn that design into an unfortunate box. It seems that in this case (212 Stuart), the better design will win the day. Not to at the Dainty Dot.

Given the often dubious judgment of the BRA, I wonder why more community groups don't take it on directly -- is it their readiness to compromise (toward mediocrity) to assuage the community groups? Something else?
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:13 PM   #46
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Re: 212 Stuart St

The 30's facade has given me the creeps my whole life. The building would look better without it. The Gothic facade on the back is rather nice, in a shambolic sort of way. I'd be sorry to see that go, and hope that the rear of the proposal is sensitive to the streetscape. I would like to see the BRA and the neighborhood trade the elimination of the "Hairenek" facade for more preservation/contextualization on the neighborhood side.

Disclosure: someone (not the current developer) wanted to hire me a few years back to assist in the elimination of some "derelict buildings" at this site. I passed, because money isn't always worth the price of earning it. Let's just say I have a strong emotional desire to see something good come of this after many, many wrongs. Those in the neighborhood know what I mean.
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Old 05-13-2008, 01:31 PM   #47
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Re: 212 Stuart St

For those who are wondering what TobyJug is referring to:

There used to be a pair of 3 story c.1830s townhouses on the back side of this lot that had tenants for as long as anyone could remember.

Then they were suddenly vacant, and the owner applied for a permit to tear them down. The City / Historic obviously turned him down.

Then there was a fire, which was ruled "suspicious." The firefighters actually responded pretty quickly and damage was limited, but part of the interior became exposed. The owner applied again for permission to tear down and was again denied.

Following that there was a standoff - attempts to convince the owner to secure the property from the elements went unheeded. Periodically, the owner would re-apply to tear them down, and was always denied by the city. During this period, the buildings were added to Mass Historic's "most endangered" list.

Finally, several years ago, the owner managed to convince someone at the State level (!) to give permission for immediate tear-down for safety reasons - supposedly the facades were in danger of collapsing forward onto the street. Almost immediately, and over a Thanksgiving weekend, they were taken down, before the neighborhood had any chance to react. And soon after, the owner applied to expand his parking lot ... and began entertaining proposals for development.

Anyhow, that's why there is now a "squared off" lot that's ripe for a 10-story building when combined with the Jae's parcel. Many of the long-time residents of the neighborhood are still very ripped about this, but the consensus is that you can't undo what's been done. And as TobyJug has noted, this history has nothing to do with the current developer.
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Old 05-13-2008, 01:45 PM   #48
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Re: 212 Stuart St

Also, in response to Itchy's question as to why neighborhoods don't "take on the BRA," the problem is that it is a repeated play game and the BRA is extremely powerful. There are other vacant lots in the neighborhood, and because this is technically still an "urban renewal" zone, the BRA could slap a "U" designation on any one of them and build without any regard to zoning. The BRA also has a say in what commercial tenants go into certain public buildings, etcetera.

Thus the intelligent approach is to "play nice" and choose battles carefully. In this context, the BRA's hamhanded approach to architectural details ranks pretty low on the priority list. You don't win any points by sarcastically asking connected bureaucrats if they've ever heard of Jane Jacobs or exactly why their architectural vision is superior to that of people in the profession.

The BRA does accomplish some good, the hard way - without it, there are situations where NIMBY gridlock would prevail. However, its manner, and the sheer dunderheadedness of some of its administrators leads to frustration and tends to entrench reflexive NIMBY sentiment, especially in the neighborhoods where the BRA holds the hammer of urban renewal designations.
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Old 01-21-2009, 12:11 AM   #49
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Re: 212 Stuart St

City to approve Stuart St. mid-rise
Hub office building set
By Thomas Grillo
Wednesday, January 21, 2009


In the midst of the biggest economic downturn in decades, construction is set to begin on a 10-story office building in Boston?s Theater District.

Hera Development Corp. is expected to receive its final approvals from the Boston Redevelopment Authority soon for a $30 million mid-rise at the shuttered Jae?s restaurant site.

?We expect construction to start in April,? said Gary Hendren, project architect. ?Financing has been in place for months.?

Under the plan, the existing three-story building at 212 Stuart St. will be incorporated into the design of a new facility to be built on an adjacent parking lot at 222 Stuart St.

In 2006, the BRA approved an eight-story building with 18 condominiums and 33,500 square feet of ground-floor retail for the site. But the deal fizzled as the residential housing market collapsed.

Hera purchased 212 Stuart St. for $6.5 million in 2007 and has an agreement to buy the adjacent parking lot.

While the office development did not win support from some Bay Village residents, the neighborhood association decided not to fight it.

?We?d rather see something built there than seeing that naked lot and empty building,? said Mark Slater, former association president. ?But no one is happy about it. It?s too big, does not respect the neighborhood, and it?s not a particularly good design.?

But John Palmieri, the BRA director, said the agency is a strong supporter of 212 Stuart St.

?We like it because it will create connections between Bay Village and Park Square,? he said. ?We?re pleased they are ready to move foward on it.?

The Stuart street office tower project is the latest for the Theater District, where the W Hotel is slated for completion later this year and Eastat Realty Capital has plans for a 24-story office tower at the nearby Jacob Wirth building.


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Old 01-21-2009, 04:50 AM   #50
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Re: 212 Stuart St

lol, this is the first time I've seen a newspaper refer to a new building of this height as a "Mid-rise", rather than a "soaring"..."tower".
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:43 AM   #51
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Re: 212 Stuart St

Man, 10 stories classifies as a mid-rise? I'd say it's got to meet at least 15, if not 20.
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Old 01-21-2009, 11:07 AM   #52
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Re: 212 Stuart St

There doesn't seem to be too much info on this project.

From the Bay Village News:
Quote:
212 Stuart Street. Architect Gary Hendrenmade
a final presentation to the Planning Committee in
October. We reviewed the final design that had
been previously approved by the BRA, the Bay
Village Historic District Commission, and the Boston
Civic Design Commission. Afinal review hurdle
remains, which involves an on-site presentation of
proposed building materials. The Planning
Committee was told that construction was scheduled
to begin in December with caisson drilling. The initial
heavy construction is expect to last at least three
months. All construction deliveries and staging shall
take place on Stuart Street with no impact to
Shawmut Street, except when undergound utility
work is conducted. Overall construction is expected
to take twenty to twenty-four months to complete.
Hera Development is planning to provide regular
updates to the neighborhood via flyer or website
with a 24/7 contact available for issues
From the BRA
Quote:
New construction of a 10-story building containing 65,700 square feet of retail and office space.
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Old 01-21-2009, 11:26 AM   #53
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Re: 212 Stuart St

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennedy
Man, 10 stories classifies as a mid-rise? I'd say it's got to meet at least 15, if not 20.
My personal feelings are that a low-rise must be human-scaled, and anything that rises above the line of about six stories (the height buildings traditionally could rise to without elevators) would be considered mid-rise.
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Old 01-21-2009, 12:50 PM   #54
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Re: 212 Stuart St

For me three potential bright spots in this depression were: 1) the pounding down of foreign currency and 2) the possibility that the financing behind this project would collapse; 3) ditto for Dainty Dot. Looks like I'll have to be satisfied with 2 out of 3 (for now).
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:08 PM   #55
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Re: 212 Stuart St

Are you thinking of Shreve Crump & Lowe?
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:32 PM   #56
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Re: 212 Stuart St

Drucker probably has deeper pockets, or at least more property holdings to collateralize. Be interesting to see if a lengthy appeal on the landmark designation would affect lenders. But I digress...
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Old 01-21-2009, 02:46 PM   #57
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Re: 212 Stuart St

I think there are a couple additional renderings on this site...in color!

http://hendrendesign.net/page1/page2/page6/page6.html

And you can catch a fleeting glimpse of the computer model here:
http://hendrendesign.net/page1/page2/page2.html
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:13 PM   #58
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Re: 212 Stuart St

ST Snail,

Thanks for the renderings. I mourn the loss of the old building. The gutted interior had incredible character. (I'm not joking.) At least that swine Billy won't make MORE money off the deal.

Looks like a combo of Motor Mart, Gehry/Tower, and end on view of the Park Square Building. 4 box modelling. The color helps distinguish between the boxes some. Wish the second largest box were a little bolder in relief and color. Also, maybe put some neon up on the Gehry struts on the Park Square side.

Now someone find a way to take out that brick atrocity (sorry, better narrow that down), the apartment house on the square and Stuart St next to Boston Gas.
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:57 PM   #59
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Re: 212 Stuart St

Thanks for finding that site. The bay village news has this blip:
Quote:
108-110 Arlington Street. Architect Gary Hendren
notified the Planning Committee that this project
has been terminated following a Bay Village Historic
District Commission decision denying a requested
variance that would have lowered the existing
third-floor window sill height.
here is the Hendrn page: http://hendrendesign.net/page1/page4/page26/page26.html
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Old 01-21-2009, 04:06 PM   #60
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Re: 212 Stuart St

Thanks! Funny, academic little building, that one. The rehab proposal looked nice.

It would do so much for the area if something could be put in the Frank Sawyer parking lot directly across the street from it. That is a huge parcel, by neighborhood standards.

As it is, you could rename it the "Garden of Lost Condoms". "Rose Kennedy Rubberway" just doesn't have the proper ring to it.
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