CNC Committee Recommends Navy Yard Project, But Parking Problems Remain
The Starboard Place residential development features 54 rental units but no on-site spaces for vehicles.
Though they are recommending support of the Starboard Place proposal for the Navy Yard’s Parcel 39A, members of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council Development Committee remain concerned about the project’s lack of on-site parking—and about Navy Yard parking in general.
Six CNC members were present at a project review meeting hosted jointly with Boston Redevelopment Authority project manager Geoff Lewis on Thursday night. The meeting was held at Constitution Inn, located next to the empty lot where the 54-rental unit project is being proposed, at the corner of First Avenue and Ninth Street.
Also present were Henry Kara and Andrew Kara, attorneys for development company Kavanagh Advisory Group LLC, and project architect Joel Bargmann of Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype Inc.
Starboard Place is a new, 48,000 sq. ft. building with 18 studio apartments and 36 one-bedroom apartments. The building design meets National Park Service standards for the historical area in which it will be located.
Though no parking is available on-site, 32 spaces in nearby Building 199 (operated by Massachusetts General Hospital), will be designated for Starboard Place residents, as well as 11 spaces in the Flagship Wharf garage at 197 Eighth St., according to Henry Kara. That leaves the 11 affordable units without designated parking.
After the developer’s presentation and questions from those in attendance, five of the CNC Development Committee members voted to recommend the project to the entire council, with several conditions including that the developer hire union workers and attempt to hire at least 20 percent workforce from Charlestown, that they hold community construction impact meetings and that they ensure 54 parking spaces—one for each rental unit, including the 11 affordable units.
One member, at-large councilor Barbara Babin, voted against the project, saying she did not feel it was fair for the BRA to accept one developer’s proposal without on-site parking when other developers in the past had been required to include spaces.
“I don’t know how you get away with not having parking for all the units,” Babin said.
Several other residents felt similarly.
Marion Dancy Cullen, the council’s Friends of the Navy Yard representative, questioned what Starboard Place residents would do when they needed to unload groceries or otherwise drop off or pick up.
Friends of the Navy Yard member Richard Burtt said MGH’s Building 199 is often already full during the day, with a waiting list about 90 people long.
“We can’t keep going to the Mass. General garage,” he said.
CNC vice chairman David Whelan said garage parking at night would not be a problem but that during the day, the garage does fill up. However, he also noted that, as of May, parking for students at MGH’s Institute of Health Professions will be moved to the North End, freeing up about 190 spaces during the day.
In addition, MGH and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital are essentially swapping parking spaces, with MGH employees using spots freed up at Spaulding’s Nashua Street location when the Navy Yard building opens for business in April.
Despite these changes, Whelan agreed that Building 199 was not a long-term solution and noted the high cost of parking in the Navy Yard—more than $200 a month.
Past, present and future
Other developers have suggested projects on Parcel 39a that included parking, including the proposal before Kavanagh Advisory Group’s. But that developer was unable to finance the project for several reasons—including the cost of providing underground parking, Lewis said.
Kara said it would cost Kavanagh Advisory Group about $3 million extra to build an underground parking garage on the site because of technical requirements with the site being so close to the water.
Flagship Wharf resident Mary Perkins suggested adding parking would actually increase the value of the building and could be incorporated into the unit prices.
But Kara said that the added expense just wasn’t practical right now.
Included in the Development Committee’s final recommendation to the CNC was a condition that the developer find 11 additional parking spaces for the building’s affordable units.
“In my mind, the market rate parking subsidizes the affordable unit parking,” Development Committee chairman Mark Rosenshein said.
Several people felt the city needs to work on a parking solution, whether as part of this project or separately.
As Green Street resident Sean Sullivan said, “It’s time for the BRA to start taking a serious look at the Navy Yard.”