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40 Warren Developer Will Continue Efforts Despite Denial

Zoning Board denies two floor redevelopment plan.

The public clash over for the parking garage at 40 Warren Street is not over; it has just entered a new phase.

Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeals denied a variance Tuesday that would have allowed the owner of the building to add two floors of residential space on top of the three-story building, but allowed the owner to immediately restart the appeals process—which he plans to do.

“We’re committed to go forward,” said owner Vahid Nickpour. “We want to develop this property.”

But, as Nickpour begins the appeals and hearing process anew, old challenges remain. Nickpour said that the ZBA’s message at Tuesday’s meeting was that he and the property’s neighbors need to work together, but their views on the property vastly differ.

Nickpour said at a that he had already scaled down the project as much as possible while keeping it financially feasible, but Brian Graves, a neighbor and unofficial spokesman for the opposition said a two-floor addition was .

“It’s never been like the variance requests are small,” Graves said. “In my opinion, it’s not a variance. It [would be] essentially rewriting the zoning by granting that request.”

He suggested that Nickpour might be able to achieve a feasible redevelopment project that remains within current zoning guidelines by converting some of the building’s two floors of parking space to residential space, or even converting the building’s one floor of commercial space.

Despite their differences, both men said they plan to continue a dialogue with each other as the process moves forward, and Graves said he plans to continue to stay on top of public meetings for the project.

Joseph January 26, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Brian - You are avoiding the question I asked. Please answer honestly. If your investment would increase in value by adding a roof deck, even though your neighbors privacy, view and sunlight would be negatively affected, would you continue with construction? My answer is yes, I would build a roof deck if it increased my property value. I’m not going to lie about it. I am very well aware of Mr. Nickpour's intentions, of which I support. How can the Charlestown Preservation Society put a negative spin on this project when you have the Bunker Hill Projects and the Co-ops @ 41 Warren Street? Are you telling me that the homes within Mishawum falls in line with the historic character of Charlestown? (Mishawum residents, I am in no way shape or form intending to be disrespectful. I am trying to prove a point). You live in a mixed zone area. That was a chance you took when you decided to buy a home in the gaslight district. If you lived on Green Street or Auburn Street, my opinion would be slightly different. Given the location you live, I am confident that your investment is going to increase in value, no matter what.
Joseph January 26, 2012 at 09:43 PM
(con't) Did having an active parking garage, or noisy bar scene stop you from purchasing your home? My guess is that the same people that are backing your cause are the same people that also tried to prevent the expansion of Tangierinos. Or not, you are relatively new to the area. The investment I made in my home is by far my most significant investment. And yes, of course I am concerned with the value of my property. Which is exactly why after living in Charlestown for almost 15 years, I knew where and where not to buy a home. I would have never purchased a home with mixed zoning. In my opinion, whether right or wrong, you and your followers are road blocks in the advancement and growth of Charlestown.
Brian Graves January 27, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Hi Joseph. I have a roof deck. If I didn't have one but could legally build one, I would. Your question and the proposed project at 40 Warren are like comparing apples and zebras. A roof deck and a 20' addition on top of an existing 3 story structure are not equal in their impact. They are not equal in their scope. I see alot of roof decks across Charlestown. Your argument seems to be "just let the developer decide, any height is just fine". The property address I think you mean to reference near 40 Warren is the Constitution Co-Op at 42 Park Street. It was grandfathered when they rezoned Charlestown 15 or 20 years ago. And when they rezoned, they zoned the area where the garage exists (NS, shopping) and where I live (3F-2000, residential) at the same 35'. Not 55 or 60 feet. If the group that rezoned then thought that it would be acceptable to build to that height, wouldn't zoning reflect that? Are you suggesting by saying "mixed zone" and "that was the chance I took" means that existing zoning doesn't matter? Or that just in some zones there are secret meanings about the districts and that zoning is more flexible in some areas (where I live) and not in other areas (where you live)? As you said, "If I lived on Green or Auburn, your opinion would be SLIGHTLY different"? Isn't zoning height 35' there as well? A roof deck vs 20' or more increase in height. Apples and zebras.
Joseph January 27, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Apples and zebras. That's actually pretty funny. However, I will continue to disagree with you with as much respect as possible. Whether it be a 20' or more increase in height, or a roof deck, opposition seems to be more about your loss of view, invasion of privacy, blocked sunlight, etc., and not about the surrounding development of the gaslight district. If a roof deck is built that blocks the previous mentioned points, what’s the difference? Your stance is difficult to accept. How about the people on the 1st & 2nd floors that don’t have roof deck access? Are you fighting for their rights too? This is not about the integrity of the neighborhood, but more about the loss of views. You have this perceived misconception that your property is going to decline in value should this project go forward. We all know that will not happen. Imagine if Mr. Nickpour decided to convert the entire building into condos? Imagine how that would impact the neighborhood. Section 8 housing. More cars. Less spots. I cannot accept your stance with the Zoning Board of 15-20years being the same as today. Boston’s Zoning Board is on a “as need be” request. 15-20 years ago, they made changes to reflect the needs at that time. That was 15-20 years ago. Times have changed. I’m sure there was a time that roof decks weren’t allowed. Now they are. Time = Change = Progress.
Brian Graves January 27, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Hi Joseph. I appreciate your approach and respect in this debate. I think you can see that despite our differences of opinion, we can have a spirited conversation so that we can provide our perspectives to each other and on the Patch, to the wider community. Zoning is not intended to change annually. Zoning is intended to answer "What can you build – and where?” These are the questions that zoning regulations answer. The Boston Zoning Code tells real estate developers what land uses, building types and sizes, heights and densities are appropriate on land throughout the city." (from the BRA's web site). The BRA site goes on "Lower heights and densities are applied to historic districts and established residential areas to protect these neighborhoods and discourage change." I didn't write the zoning. Maybe someone in Charlestown who participated in writing the zoning then could weigh in to explain why they limited the height of buidlings. Yes, there is intended to be some flexibility in the zoning process to provide exceptions where hardships exist for property owners. Where is the hardship? The builder can't make even more money? 40 Warren is currently in use and making money. If it is change you seek then let's sit down and rewrite the zoning. In the meantime, I am all for reasonable, small exceptions to allow property owners to modify their homes or builders to build. I maintain that 20' higher is not a small exception and for now, the ZBA agrees.

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