Upham's Corner Online

UCWNA - New Requirements for St. Kevin's Design

Posted: February 18, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

At the Valentine's Day meeting of the Upham's corner West side neighborhood Association, officer Marie Miller introduced herself as the new community services officer (CSO) and discussed the police incident report in detail.  Victory Programs talked about the importance of the neighborhood to their program and how they convey that to their residents. 

The most important part of the meeting was reserved for a review of the St. Kevin's project.

On June 10, 2011 the neighborhood association wrote a letter to the Planning Office of Urban Affairs (POUA) who are the designated developers of the St. Kevin site.  The letter addressed neighborhood concerns.  As of February 2012 the developers have yet to respond to the letter except to state that amended plans are forthcoming.

View UCWNA June 10, 2011 Letter

Given the possibility of a February 23rd community meeting (as announced by POUA at the last UCWNA meeting)  to discuss the latest plans, Bob Haas, UCWNA president, wanted to make sure he had all the community feedback he needed to write a follow-up letter.

Some residents stated they remain opposed to a "housing" development at that site  However, the group exercise was intended to address the developer project design, not the suitability of housing for the Upham's Corner neighborhood.

The 2011 letter was organized as follows: massing of the buildings, traffic and parking, location of dumpsters, drainage and green issues.  The conversation was organized to follow that same format.

In the intervening nine months, community ideas have changed - in many cases quite dramatically.  What seemed to be an easy sell to the community is no longer acceptable or as acceptable. Attendees discussed issues, pros and cons, new ideas and what they believe are their minimum requirements in order for the project proceed.

Residents also began including a discussion of what they "imagine" are the economics of the project - underground versus aboveground parking, renovations versus full rebuilds, etc.  They were encouraged to stay away from acting like developers since they were not.  Just state ideas and requirements.

Transportation Issues
  1. Widen Davern - currently very narrow
  2. Buildings A and B sit directly at the sidewalk edge.  Move them to create a setback of 10 to 12 feet
  3. Place a curb cut at the front entrance on Columbia road in order to create a drop-off area to avoid traffic problems
  4. Require underground parking with Columbia West as a model
  5. Demolish Building C and replace it with public parking, in particular for the Bird Street Municipal Building - library, health center and youth center.  This could also be used by the funeral home across the street.
Many attendees discussed traffic flow with very different ideas: 
  • Entering from Bird Street and exiting through Davern Avenue
  • Accessing an underground garage from Davern Avenue with limited parking on the property itself 
  • An auto entrance from Columbia Rd 
Massing of the Buildings

From the perspective of Virginia Street abutters, Building A appears to be one story high.  Adding one additional level to Building A is not a problem.  Adding more than one story to the building or moving the building back towards Virginia Street will reduce airflow, create shadows and decrease the amount of sunlight on those properties.  This, in turn, will affect the ability of Virginia Street residents to grow food and other vegetation. 

Consider demolishing all three buildings - A, B and C. People on Bird Street said they do not want the townhouses built there. Demolishing Building B will allow rebuilding it with a stronger foundation and the ability to increase its height. 

Other Issues
  • Use sealed dumpsters directly attached to the building so that they don't attract visitors and don't generate an oder
  • Design the rear of the property to effect drainage towards the front
Bob Haas will be writing a letter to POUA based on these comments.

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