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Patch Answers: Plans for Former Knights Site

Got a question about something in Charlestown? Ask Patch.

In a new feature on Charlestown Patch called “You Ask … Patch Answers,” readers are invited to ask questions about anything they see or hear about in town and want to know more about.

Already, we’ve received a few questions from the community regarding the status of vacant buildings, ongoing construction projects and other items.

This week, we turn an eye on 75 West School St. Several people have asked what is being constructed on the site of the former Knights of Columbus hall (which is now located on Medford Street).

For the answer, Patch turned to Mark Rosenshein, chairman of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council Development Committee. Rosenshein actually joined the CNC in part because of this project—after attending a meeting where he felt few questions were answered, the Charlestown resident decided to get involved.

While Rosenshein remembers the original project as being well over 100 units, the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s records show that the most recent proposal, known as "Rutherford Landing," began as a seven-story federal-style brick building with 99 condo units, 100 garage parking spaces and 38 surface spaces. The BRA approved that plan in 2008, according to Melina Schuler, assistant director of media and public relations for the BRA.

Because of the economy and other reasons, the developer eventually sought a project change. In their notice of project change filed in November 2010, Bennett Development LLC reduced the total units to 87—15 percent of which would be affordable. The new proposal also changed the units to rentals rather than owner-occupied condos, Schuler said.

The developer filed a second notice of project change in January 2012 requesting that the project be increased back to 99 rental units, with 13 affordable units and 132 parking spaces, Schuler said.

According to BRA records, the building height has been approved at seven stories. However, Rosenshein's records show the building was reduced to five stories, and judging by the window layout on the building now being constructed at 75 West School St., it has indeed topped out at five stories.

The building height is still significantly taller than the former one-story Knights hall, which may be why residents find it so jarring, Rosenshein said.

“The building that was there before, you couldn’t tell it was there because with the Zelma Lacey House and the mall, you didn’t even see it,” he said. “My sense is that before it started being built, people’s impression, incorrectly, was that it was roughly the same size as the Zelma Lacey House, which it’s clearly not. When it got over the height of Zelma Lacey House is when I think people starting saying, ‘Wow, how big is that?’”

Construction is expected to finish up by the end of 2013 or early 2014, Rosenshein said.

Got a question about something in Charlestown? Submit your query in the comments section below or email to becca.manning@patch.com.

Dan February 20, 2013 at 01:28 PM
While the size is jarring, I'm very impressed for a complex of 99 units they got 132 deeded parking spots thats impressive! This should be a bellwether to all others. You can meet and exceed 100% deeded spaces without any hardship. So asking 85% shouldn't be a battle for properties with greater than 4 units.
TheMaskedTruthsayer February 20, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Helps to be wired-in Dan, helps alot.
M. Jensen February 20, 2013 at 07:14 PM
So is it definitely apartments? I head condos.
Patty Murphy February 20, 2013 at 07:26 PM
When will they be taking applications for this development
Matthew February 20, 2013 at 08:03 PM
I don't think the size is jarring at all. I can see the entire project from my balcony on Bunker Hill St. and it looks like it's going to be a nice looking building. At least they're not building a legit high rise that would jack up the amazing view of the city skyline.
Becca Manning February 20, 2013 at 09:13 PM
It was originally supposed to be condos but was amended to apartments.
Joseph February 20, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Sorry Matthew, but you're wrong on this. Watch the shadows come springtime. Zelma Lacey and Wishawum are getting screwed out of natural light. Believe me, watch the path of the sun these next 9-10 months. 5 stories in Charlestown is a highrise. Builders are going to build, I don't have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is how some projects are getting approval, where as others with less of an impact are not. The issue about available parking is a valid argument that is NOT being addressed. I'm sorry. You build all these rental units, wo/accounting for 1.3 cars (made up number, but it's higher than 1:1) per unit, it's poor planning. You want to build and turnout every undeveloped parcel into condos, so be it. It's out of our control, but these assclowns running the BRA better realize that parking in Charlestown must be addressed with these additional mutli-RENTAL units being constructed left and right. How many people/cars are they really trying to cram into Charlestown? And they expect people to park where? And furthermore, this building is as stale as it can get. IMO, not a welcoming site once I enter Charlestown. It's ugly and looks like a cheap apt complex in Allston/Brighton. What's the saying, "Keep Allston/Brighton Ugly" -G'day
Charlestown joe February 20, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Hold on, next week in will be condos again, then when they don't sell it will be apartments, the it will become affordable housing, , then the Feds will take it over and it will become section eight and homeless
Charlestown joe February 20, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Flip-Flop big time!
Dan February 20, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Plenty - I'm not wired-in are you? I have no special knowledge on whats happening.
Matthew February 20, 2013 at 10:40 PM
Joseph, I'm wrong? How about I just have a different perspective than you. Plenty of places in Charlestown don't get a ton of natural sunlight. My place doesn't get much at all until later in the afternoon, and it get's it from the same direction that places like Mishawum do. That's just a part of city living (although apparently Charlestown isn't in the city, according to some people on the Patch). I was solely addressing someone calling the building "jarring". Hardly. As for parking, that's a valid issue and I haven't weighed in on that one way or another. That's definitely something that most people in the commnity have an interest in, and if enough people get involved I'm sure a difference could be made. I sent one email to Councilman LaMatinna's office regarding snow removal on BH St. I received no less that four return phone calls in the past two days updating me on progress and asking if there were any other issues. How many people are directly contacting local politicians? That's where to start. No one is taking on the BRA on their own.
Matthew February 20, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Also, and while I don't want to read into what you wrote more than necessary, why did you stress the word "rental"? I only ask because you did bring Charlestown renters up in the discussion about snow removal, so I'm still not sure what angle you are approaching that issue from.
Matthew February 20, 2013 at 11:24 PM
CJ, I think you're being a bit extreme. I highly doubt that will happen.
TheMaskedTruthsayer February 20, 2013 at 11:46 PM
This is not what I would call a timely piece when you consider the structure in question has been under construction for five months...seems more like a fluff/damage control/pr piece and not even a good one at that.
Charlestown joe February 20, 2013 at 11:51 PM
Patience is a virtue, wait and see. If you don't think it could happen..... Just take a walk down to Sullivan Sq. to the Mezi Lofts. It happened there.. It can happen there,also. So never say never!
Toonie February 21, 2013 at 11:03 AM
The Whole Foods is coming! The Whole Foods is coming! Eventually, the vast majority of Section 8 housing in Charlestown will be gone and the "yuppies" (your words, not mine), will reign throughout City of Boston's neighborhood known as Charlestown. Patience is a virtue, CJ. Just sit back, watch, and let it happen. There is truly no stopping it.
Joseph February 21, 2013 at 01:39 PM
I stand corrected. I disagree with your opinion, which does not make it wrong (even though it is. lol. j/k) I have a problem with new construction (not rehab of existing structures) being built outside the scope of restrictions being placed on new construction of row houses. New construction is forced to adhere to three stories. How and why did this five story building get approved? Because it originally sought seven stories and the BRA said we'll give you five? THAT is the underlying issue. I'm stressing rentals because of all the major housing projects taking place in Charlestown, the majority of units being built are available for rental only. Not a rule, but renters don't have any skin (except security deposit) in the game. Look, I'm not trying to offend you. Personally, I don't care if you own or rent, you do what your situation allows for, I'm not going to judge. When it comes time to discussing viewpoints on certain issues, it's obvious where I stand. And IMO, building rental units does not add value to a community. Should you be getting all these responses 2wks after storm? Or should they have done the job correctly in the first place? Snow Emergency for 4+ days and we're still talking about snow piles and blocked roads (Park Street) and you have Mumbles telling the country how awesome of job the City did. Please....
Jay K. February 21, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Nice report, Becca. Thanks. Do you have the Tavern on the Water site in your pipeline? I'd really like to know what's going on there. And really anything on new pubs and businesses.
Betty Lindsey February 21, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Also has there been any development with Shipyard Quarters Marina where Tavern on the Water sits? Haven't heard a word in about 2 months except everything is with lawyers. I can personally stte not one bit of work is being done as the dock personnel are only there to shovel snow.
Matthew February 21, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Joseph, Whether homeowners mean to offend or not, the notion that people who rent add no value to a community makes it seem like many homeowners look at renters as second class citizens. My wife and I love Charlestown, but we were shocked to see the level of snobbery that seems to be present here. We put our hard earned money into the housing economy just like everyone else, and we pay a lot. I'm really trying not to get pissed as I write this. I just can not stand any line in the sand being drawn between owners and renters, and I am as much a part of this community as someone who as lived here for years is. I accept that this is a city neighborhood, and in city neighborhoods people rent, some for years on end. I received a call back the day after I sent the email. The snow on BH was still a nuisance. I was pleasantly surprised by the quick call back because I wasn't expecting a call back at all.
Joseph February 21, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Matthew - I rented in Charlestown long before I could afford to buy here. I have no ill will towards renters. Some of my closest friends and neighbors rent. Nothing personal directed at you. Unfortunately, you can't see (not asking you to agree) with my point of view. I don't approve of all these multi-unit rentals being built, as well as their ability to bypass zoning regulations, without accounting for parking. End of story. G'day
Charlestown joe February 21, 2013 at 09:09 PM
Toonie Was here before you, I'll be here after you have gone, don't really care if whole foods comes or not, never did do any food shopping in Johnnies either. So I ask again, "Your point is?"
Charlestown joe February 21, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Also Toonie , Where did I mention "yuppies" ? Are you ok? Better keep taking you meds. I actually read thru this whole blog and didn't see "yuppies" once
Matthew February 21, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Joseph, I agree with you taking issue with regulation being bypassed. That's something that needs to be brought to the attention of our local politicians. And if they ignore it, then keep pushing. I mentioned the councilman's office getting back to be so quickly regarding snow removal because I wonder how many people who are angry about certain things in the community take their grievances to their local elected official (not the CNC or the BRA... no one will get anything concessions from them because they really have no one to be accountable to). I still don't see what your issue is with multi-rental structures being built. To me it makes no difference. I pay in rent more than I would for a single family home mortgage in Charlestown. I could absolutely afford it, and so could many others. Of course there are those four unit building with three roommates in each one. But when it really comes down to it, the price of a single family home in Charlestown is way overblown. So at the end of the day, renting can give people more freedom and less of a headache with an over appraised home. And to be honest, I truly don't care what type of housing gets built in Charlestown as long as it attracts decent, civilized people (renter and homeowner alike).
Matthew February 21, 2013 at 09:45 PM
P.S. Case in point are the homes being built on Warren St. No doubt they will be through the roof expensive. Where is a good, working class family supposed to be able to buy nowadays? If they were reasonably priced rentals then perhaps there'd be a reasonable answer to that question.
oneofseven February 22, 2013 at 02:50 AM
I would like to know why the people working on that development are allowed to park against those jersey barriers that are along the fence. It is a very serious safety issue, again restricting the traffic to 1 lane. Not to mention the safety of the residents of the Zelma Lacey house and others that walk down that area. There is a tremendous amount of foot traffic on West School Street and somebody is going to get killed. Maybe that's when somebody wll do something about it.

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