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Developer that shrank proposed luxury tower on Tremont from 31 to 19 floors now says it can live with just 13

171 Tremont St. proposal in Boston

You'll hardly even notice it - the last brown building on the right.

The Swiss owners of a runty little office building at 171 Tremont St., across from the movie theater and the Common have filed revised re-do plans with the BRA that call for construction of a 13-story building that would have just 12 condos - one to each floor above the lobby.

In a cover letter, the Dabbah family of Switzerland tells the BRA:

The Project will offer luxury condominiums in a sleek, modern structure made of high-quality metals, glass, and limestone. Although significantly smaller than many of the larger-scale developments that are emerging in Downtown Crossing, the Project will look to the success of these developments as precedent for continuing revitalization efforts in the neighborhood. Additionally, the Project will be thoughtfully integrated into the community by introducing public realm benefits, including a tranquil pocket park. The Project will continue the transformation of Downtown Crossing into a revitalized neighborhood where all Bostonians can live, work, and play.

In 2014, the family submitted a letter of intent that called for a 31-story tower, then submitted plans to the BRA for a 19-story building with 18 condos.

The further reduction to 13 stories means the building meets existing zoning for the lot and will not have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Dabbahs say. The reduction also means the elimination of all parking for the building, save for two spaces meant for short-term valet parking. The new plans call for creation of an "urban pocket park nestled within a grove of trees and shrubbery
provides an enhanced pedestrian pathway from Tremont Street to Mason and Avery Streets."

The revised application speaks to the building design, by Elkus Manfredi:

171 Tremont will use an elegant combination of natural stone, glass, and metal components on the exterior façade, while the interiors will focus on additional high quality finishes and materials. The slender, elegant building design will harmonize with the adjacent condominium buildings to the north on Tremont Street. The building’s Boston Common and Avery Street frontages present asymmetrical façades with spacious wrap-around balconies. The top of the building is designed to provide visual interest while creating a light and airy roof terrace.

Revised submission (6.6M PDF).

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lol

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"...of Downtown Crossing into a revitalized neighborhood where all Bostonians can live, work, and play."

Oh cool, it's going to shoot lasers at junkies?

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I'd bet eventually someone is going to offer St Francis House a lot, lot of money to move somewhere else, both to get the real estate but also to remove the local support for the poor and indigent.

That or there will be some sort of neighborhood security force empowered to move people along off of the steps and vicinity of the shiny new buildings and eventually the homeless and junkies will go somewhere with less hassles, like Newmarket.

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looks like the clean up is already under way. the junkies seems to be fewer and farther between now that millennium has opened. earlier in the summer i'd see no fewer than 5 people on the nod on my walk to work. now i only see 1 or 2. small sample, i know, but it has been a notable change.

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Or someone will offer St. Francis House a lot of money to scale up its operations and get more homeless men off the street.

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But scale up their operations and move to Newmarket or somewhere farther from the Millenium Tower, Ritz, etc...

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And here I thought nothing could get fuglier than Tremont on the Common. One of the most prominent streets in Boston and it is an eyesore.

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And this why we don't have nice things.

Small, sleek, ultra high quality tower gets shot down by all of the entitled nimbys living in the other luxury towers behind it, who love to complain about shadow and traffic, but had no problem when their much larger scale tower was built in the first place.

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So you've looked up the addresses of everyone who spoke out against this tower, and every last one of them lives in one of the nearby towers?

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p. 43-172 of the revised submission.

This is the first time I've really read any comment letters on any project - prime exhibits of NIMBYism in this city.

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It's just residents either in the area or other parts of the city who care about having buildings that look good in relation to their surroundings. No, a bigger project wasn't going to lower everyone's rents.

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That's entirely subjective, and enough people didn't want what you considered desirable. This is much more appropriate for the site, according to many people. Move to another city if you want generic buildings that don't. Traffic is still a concern with new constuction.

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Strictly aesthetically, this is a slight improvement. I'd like something more attractive on the Common, but at least this is a step up.

I'm kind of intrigued by the one-condo-per-floor idea. Whatever the exterior appearances would be, having a modern apartment building designed like a three-decker is is neat.

Not that I'll be able to afford it, mind you, but it is interesting.

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Space for staff on the first floor. 12 units financing a staff of 3 or 4 even on the cheep has to make for a hefty condo fee.

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line of BS?

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Why is there a need for a pocket park with the Common across the street? No street level retail on a thoroughfare? What?

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accepting the concept of a "pocket park".

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This is why we need more European developers.

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No, we really don't.

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No more European developers. But can we get some more anons on UH? Because they're such great contributors.

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Page 9, Final Report from the Chairs of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting https://malegislature.gov/District

...City of Boston has not gone through the reprecincting process in several decades and the city precincts now range in size from 535 to 8,557 people.

Over that time the racial and ethnic make-up of those precincts has also changed; yet, the boundaries remain the same.

This population disparity and static boundaries could potentially impact the ability of future sessions of the General Court to adequately balance federal and state redistricting case law, equal voting opportunities established by the Voting Rights Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Massachusetts Constitution and traditional redistricting principles when creating new districts.

Page 9, Final Report from the Chairs of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting https://malegislature.gov/District

see also http://archives.lib.state.ma.us/actsResolves/1982/1982acts0605.pdf

https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/52myph/city_of_boston_has_not_g...

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I walk thru the Common quite a bit. Tremont St isn't going to look any worse with this building really.
However that's being said on condition that balconies are brought back so they don't hang over sidewalks.

WTF is that? Anyone walking on those streets loses sun and sky for private balcony use?

Total BS.

Also I think 2nd and maybe 3rd floor wouldn't be great places to live. Top floors would be sweet.

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The shadows appear to be no problem according to the linked proposal. They show a shadow study you should check out.

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is the sun DIRECTLY over those patios? That's the only time it would block sunlight on the sidewalk.

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Go look at the proposal in the link - they've got shadow studies for all times of the day.

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I didn't mention just shadows. I mentioned losing the sun and the sky. What if I want to look straight up at night? I'm going to see the underside of a balcony? Nope. Build within the footprint. Simple as that.

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On Tremont Street?

I have to admit I've never tried to see the stars from that side of Tremont, but suspect it's going to be difficult without without that building due to all the lights around there.

But if this is your nightmare, there's an easy solution: Cross the street to the wide, wide sidewalk on that side and look up.

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even easier, just look the other way.

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So a Swiss multi-millionaire can enrich himself more at the public's expense?

How can I put this politely?

Fuck. That. Noise.

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I didn't mention just shadows. I mentioned losing the sun and the sky.

The sun is currently lost to the existing building. The new building does not change this. Your argument is invalid.

What if I want to look straight up at night? I'm going to see the underside of a balcony?

On Tremont St the sidewalk is 10' min, if not wider. The balconies do not extend over the entire width. There is room for you to be out from under said balconies. Your argument is invalid.

On Avery St, the site plan shows trees outboard of the balconies which will obstruct your straight up view. Trees are good. Your argument is invalid.

Simple as that.

Yup.

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I don't want to walk to the edge of the sidewalk to find room to see what is currently viewable. Valid.

Trees won't have leaves in the winter. Valid.

I prefer as much open space around and above me at all times and places and don't willingly sacrifice that space. Valid.

Philosophically opposed to giving public stuff away to rich people. Valid.

Foreign developers make a little less money to build by right on property they own. Valid.

Recess the balconies within the footprint.

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Setting aside arguments about rich people, etc., you've got me curious now: Are you saying you have actually stood in front of a building on Tremont Street and looked straight up to see the stars?

If so, why?

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But I certainly take in the air and the sky and atmospheric conditions whenever I'm outdoors.
I'm not kidding or trying to make my argument. I try to be very observant of everything around me. And I'm slightly claustrophobic so the more openness I have at any time is good.

Does that make me the bad guy?

Why just say the balconies are ok, deal with it? Look the other way? My views are somehow less valid than the foreigner trying to profit on his investment?

I'm born and raised in Boston and vote and pay my taxes. What has Dabbeh ever done for Boston?

I actually said I like the building. I'll like it better if it's a few square feet smaller and the balconies don't infringe.

And I have certainly looked down Tremont (and up) many times. I haven't lately but I don't recall any other protuberances from the other facades.

Has this been looked at? Is that in anyway aesthetically pleasing? Looking down one of our major thoroughfares and seeing private balconies jutting out?
For what gain? Again, for few more square feet of luxury condos or little more profit for someone.

Sorry not sold.

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Not yet mentioned is the added riskt hese balconies could pose to pedestrians.

Seems incredibly more likey that something could fal or blow off an exposed balcony like this as opposed to a recessed one.

And if something does drop it won't be along the side of the building, will it? Nope, it will fall right into the middle of the sidewalk. A potentially very busy sidewalk.

And I surmise from your posts and photos you enjoy an occasional amble yourself. What if you were walking along that building and it started to rain, or snow, or thunderclap, or you saw the end of a rainbow in the Common?

Why shouldn't you and everyone else lose the ability, forever, to look up directly and see what's occurring in the heavens above?
I've yet to hear a good reason why besides the great shadow study.
That's not the only concern..

And the fact that this is a rich guy with grasping designers that won't just build a reasonable building for the lot can't be ignored.
If this was a hospice for sick kids that would enjoy the balconies I'd be much less inclined to oppose it..
Someone please tell me who these balconies are good for besides the owner and the 12 buyers? If no one then I see no reason to approve them. Sorry, free country.

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Wow, so your saying the firm they hired to study shadows for the building they want to build said there's not going to be significant shadows.

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They are required to provide shadow studies - for all hours of the day. It's not a conspiracy. And the new building does not change what currently exists for shadow concerns.

PS: the firm hired to study the shadows is also the design firm.

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From the submission itself:

3.2 Shadow
Due to the slim massing form and diminutive floor plate, the resulting new shadows cast by the Project continue to be slight and narrow. Additionally, shadow impacts associated with the Project have been reduced as a result of the reduction in building height. As demonstrated in Figures 3.1a through 3.1d, net new shadow is limited to 7 out of the 14 periods studied, with the most shadow impacts occurring around the noon hour. These impacts are very small due to the siting of the building in the path of shadow cast by the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Ritz Carlton Residences at 10 Avery Street.

So there are new shadows. 7 of them.
So this is an invalid statement by you:

And the new building does not change what currently exists for shadow concerns.

I suppose we're supposed to take you and the Swiss millionaires words that these aren't concerns?

No thanks.

I'll be at any hearings for this building. Completely opposed to these balconies.

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That's interesting. Yes, those balconies do not seem like a great selection.

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He's a billionaire. 3 comma club exclusive. Get it right.

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I'm glad you read it more closely than I did. So new shadows are "slight and narrow".

Good luck at the hearings.

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Those are the easements, according to you, that are coming from the company that stands to make money from the project.

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We can't have density in downtown Boston! Think of the children!

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You can have density without too much. It's more complicated than your snarky post.

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