7 Harcourt Street - a good fit for a great neighborhood
As the developer of 7 Harcourt and a resident of the South End and St. Botolph neighborhoods since 1968, I take major issue with the inaccuracies and misrepresentations of the July 11th Letter to the Editor from a few of my neighbors with whom we have extensively reviewed this redevelopment over the past nine months.
The redevelopment of 7 Harcourt is reasonable and appropriate for a residential neighborhood surrounded by taller and larger buildings, including the 10-story, over 100-unit Residences at Copley Place across the street. Interestingly, the adjacent building at 9-17 Harcourt Street enjoys its own variances for increased building height and residential density, resulting in a taller and much larger building than the proposed expansion of 7 Harcourt. The irony here presents more a case of "I got mine now go away," than an issue of the "1% versus the rest of us" as the Letter claims.
To clarify and correct the Letter to the Editor, the project is not for 12 residential units but only nine units, with nine dedicated parking spaces at the owner’s parking garage immediately to the rear of the property. The parking ratio was increased as a result of community outreach and is now in excess of the Zoning Code’s requirement of 0.7 spaces per unit. This ratio is appropriate for a walking neighborhood so close to downtown, with local amenities, shopping, public transit, bike and car sharing just outside the door. Traffic congestion will be minimal and greatly reduced from the current office usage of the building, as vehicles will be parked in a garage which is accessed through an alleyway past the owner’s abutting building at Garrison Square, away from the concerned neighbors.
Claims of construction related issues and owner accountability are also way off base. The City has a very strict construction management program which prevents large trucks from idling all day and taking up parking spaces on the weekends. The Letter also fails to note that while the property owner UDR is a REIT based in Colorado, it is also the respected owner and manager of the abutting residences at Garrison Square and has a major role in and commitment to our neighborhood and the Boston area (with its planned residences at Pier 4 in the Seaport). UDR has a local on-site management team already in place next door, and it has committed to working with neighborhood on any and all issues from construction to day-to-day management of the proposed building.
As a result of extensive community outreach and input received over the past nine months, our team has significantly revised, modified and reduced the scope of its proposed development. In addition to the reduction in unit density and increased off-street parking, the project has also been modified by removing head-house structures on the roof; introducing nine foot recessed sections at the side of the addition nearest 9-17 Harcourt Street; removing balconies on the sides of the addition; converting common roof decks into private, passive roof gardens with conditions on hours and usage; providing internal trash pick-up from the owner’s parking garage at the rear (where parking is also provided); and, replacing and upgrading the common alleyway from Harcourt to Follen Street with a tasteful paver program to replace the crumbling asphalt.
The design of this modest residential expansion, by a renowned Boston architect with local acclaim in our neighborhood, will also bring a dramatically improved building with a much-needed residential use that better conforms to the St. Botolph area. As someone who has both lived and developed and managed property in the neighborhood for over 40 years, I am proud to present this revised and modified project for consideration by the City, and I am confident that it will meet the high standards of the community.
-- Mark Goldweitz, 32 Garrison Street