Boston Globe article re proposed tower at 533 Washington St.

FU3A4876-533WashingtonThe Boston Globe ran the following article today regarding the proposed residential tower at 533 Washington Street:

https://t.co/DR0cOqMqf6

The Opera House and Modern Theatre (Suffolk University) are opposed to the project at this time.  The Associations’ Rishi Shukla was quoted in the article. Shukla, along with other members of the Association, was nominated to serve on the project’s Impact Advisory Group (IAG) by elected officials and was appointed to the IAG by the Mayor.  The IAG “advises the BRA (Boston Redevelopment Authority) in both identifying the impacts and determining the appropriate mitigation [of the project].” Additional information about IAGs can be found here.

 

“Right now, it looks like trying to put a size 12 foot into a size 9 shoe,” Nucci said.

The Rafi plan is one of several in the area with proposed heights that would need variances to exceed a zoning limit of 155 feet. On Tremont Street, another “skinny tower” is planned to be 235 feet high. And a few blocks to the north, developers want to build a condo skyscraper that would rise 59 stories, or about 700 feet, above Bromfield Street.

The solution, many residents say, is updating zoning rules to reflect the interest in building new towers in the area, while ensuring they don’t overrun the neighborhood.

“There’s a reconciliation that has to happen,” said Rishi Shukla, founding member of the Downtown Boston Residents’ Association. “You can’t knock the public for asking the question of why is it OK to go 80 in a 55 zone if you’ve set the speed limit at 55.”

BRA spokesman Nick Martin said officials are sensitive to the residents’ concerns. “We do want to look holistically at the whole Washington Street corridor to make sure we’re looking at projects, not on a one-off basis, but in terms of how they affect the district as a whole,” he said.

 

The Next Chapter…

Downtown-Residents'-Association-Logo-vF_203x203

 

Dear Residents and Stakeholders,

In the Fall of 2014, a small group of Downtown Boston residents came together to mobilize against a proposed 43,000+ sq. foot entertainment complex in the neighborhood.  We were compelled to act based on the information at hand and because residents lacked a proper voice in the process – we believed fervently that our neighborhood and beloved City deserved better than what was being proposed.  We appreciated the critical importance of residents in the ongoing revitalization of Downtown Boston and recognized that residents, as citizens and taxpayers, have a fundamental right to have a voice in matters that stand to impact quality of life and the ongoing development of their neighborhood.

We founded the Residents’ Association for one simple reason: to enable civic engagement.  We expected to engage 30-40 residents across a few residential buildings but what transpired over a few short weeks was completely unexpected. Through word of mouth, basic research of the proponent’s public filings, and a data driven approach, hundreds of Downtown Boston residents organized and engaged to shine the spotlight on obvious issues with the proposed entertainment complex and its proponent.  Despite being dubbed obstructionists by some, we carried forward. History confirms that this effort was both prudent and necessary. As anticipated, the proponent of the failed project is facing several labor lawsuits in multiple states and continues to shutter locations nationwide.  Our neighborhood and City deserved better.

What initially started out as a small, informal group of residents coming together to respond to a challenge quickly evolved into a robust, active residents’ association with over 400 members and growing from across 15 Downtown Boston residential buildings. The Association remains 100% independent and volunteer resident driven. It remains committed to engaging, informing, and empowering Downtown Boston residents by creating a forum for discussion and debate on a wide range of topics related to quality of life and development in Downtown Boston.

Today, we are pleased to share an exciting announcement and milestone.  Based on your feedback, discussions with stakeholders, and our experiences over the past year and a half, the Leadership Team of what has been known as the Midtown Cultural District Residents’ Association has decided to rename the Association to Downtown Boston Residents’ Association to more closely align with the neighborhood’s current identity.  Our new website address is www.downtownRA.org. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

We would like to take a moment to thank our elected officials, City agencies, and their dedicated staff; the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (Downtown Boston BID) for their support and partnership since our inception and for their transformational work in Downtown Boston over the last five years; Suffolk University, an important anchor institution in the neighborhood, for providing in-kind meeting space, staff, and security for the majority of our meetings; Chris Damian and the team at SIP Wine Bar and Kitchen for hosting our first public meeting; the Ritz-Carlton Boston for providing in-kind meeting space; the Boston Police Department and MBTA Transit Police for protecting and serving the neighborhood and engaging with the Association; and you, the residents of Downtown Boston, the lifeblood of this great neighborhood.

Please feel free to share this message with fellow neighbors and stakeholders.  We look forward to our continued work together.

Sincerely,

The Leadership Team

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Next monthly meeting on 5/9, 7pm

Our next meeting will be held on Monday, May 9th, 7PM, at the Modern Theatre.

Monday, May 9, 2016 at 7:00PM
The Modern Theatre (courtesy of Suffolk University)
525 Washington Street
(Handicap Accessible)

 

Agenda
7:00PM  General updates

7:15PM  Collin Yip of Rafi Properties to present proposed plans for 533 Washington Street (former Felt site) followed by Q&A.  A friendly reminder to treat all speakers with respect and maintain decorum.  Project  information, including the Project Notification Form (PNF), can be found on the BRA website.  Please see below for upcoming dates and milestones, including the comment period, related to this project.  The first IAG (Impact Advisory Group) meeting was held last week.

 

Save the Date
Monday, June 13th, 7PM (Suffolk Law School Courtroom (Room # 425))
Midwood will present their proposed plans for One Bromfield Street

 

The following information was received from Raul Duverge of the BRA – he is the Project Manager for the 533 Washington Street project:

 

Community Meeting – Thursday, 5/5/16 at 6:00pm
I [Raul] will be hosting the first general community meeting on the proposed project on the date/time noted above. This meeting will be advertised in the local newspapers and will be held in Boston City Hall, 5th Floor – Piemonte Room, 1 City Hall Sq. Boston, MA.02201. If you arrive to City Hall after 5:30 pm, please enter through the Congress Street entrance as the plaza entrance closes at 5:30 pm. This will be the more appropriate forum for members of the general public to attend, ask questions, and learn more about the project and the review process moving forward.

The comment period associated with the PNF will conclude on Monday, May 16, 2016. For more information on this project, and to submit comments online, please visit:

http://goo.gl/eCgyav 

Next monthly meeting on Monday, 4/11

Monday, April 11, 2016 at 7:00PM
The Modern Theatre (courtesy of Suffolk University)
525 Washington Street

(Handicap Accessible)

Agenda
7:00PM  AMC Loews Boston Common will discuss proposed late night events
7:15PM  Sweetgreens to present plans for two new locations in the neighborhood
7:30PM  MCDRA Leadership Team introduction
7:45PM  171 Tremont Street project team to present revised plans (moderated discussion and Q&A) (please note: the project team has asked to reschedule)

Next monthly meeting on March 14th, 7PM

Our March meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 14, 2016 at 7:00PM (Suffolk Law School):

Monday, March 14, 2016 at 7:00PM
Suffolk University Law School (Room 295)
120 Tremont Street

(Handicap Accessible)

We look forward to seeing many of you at the MCDRA Wine Tasting at Gordon’s Fine Wine & Liquors (39 Temple Place) on Monday, February 29 from 5:00PM – 7:00PM.  Tickets are $10 per person and include tastings and snacks!  A limited number of tickets remain.  Tickets can be purchased here.

Agenda

7:00PM  Boston Police Department and MBTA Transit Police Update

7:15PM  Announcement regarding expansion of the MCDRA Leadership Team

7:30PM  Chris Cook, Commissioner, Boston Parks & Recreation, will be joining us for a discussion around our open spaces, including the Boston Common and the new proposed Visitor Center

8:15PM  Other Updates, including the proposed developments at 171 Tremont Street, 533 Washington Street, and Bromfield / Washington Streets

Next Meeting on Monday, Feb. 8th at 7pm

Happy New Year to all!  We are looking forward to a great year ahead.  Our next monthly meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8th at 7pm:

Monday, February 8, 2016 at 7:00PM
Suffolk University Law School (4th FL, Courtroom, Room 425)
120 Tremont Street

(Handicap Accessible)

Agenda

7:00PM  Announcement regarding expansion of the MCDRA Leadership Team – positions described below.*  We are looking to fill these volunteer positions by our March meeting

7:30PM  Chris Cook, Commissioner, Boston Parks & Recreation, will be joining us for a discussion around our open spaces, including the Boston Common

8:15PM  Haley Fortier, proprietor of a proposed wine bar at the former Cakeology space at 45 Province Street will discuss her business plan as she seeks a liquor license (licensing board hearing on 2/10)

*As we continue to grow, we are looking to evolve from a small Executive Committee to a more robust Leadership Team.  We are seeking to fill the following volunteer positions by our March meeting:

Technology Co-Manager
Assist with updating website, sending out meeting notices and announcements, helping with speaker / meeting presentations.  Help to develop and curate timely web and social media content

Membership & Public Relations Manager
Conduct outreach to neighborhood buildings and condo associations within the MCDRA geographic area.  Help recruit and welcome new members.  Work with the Downtown BID, The Boston Courant, etc. to publicize association and neighborhood announcements

Social Coordinator
Plan and implement activities such as neighborhood tours, wine tastings, and other activities based on the interests of members.  Encourage opportunities for feedback and participation.

Meeting & Events Co-Manager
Serve as a liaison with Suffolk University and others to secure monthly meeting location.  Liaise with Leadership Team and residents to suggest and determine monthly speakers, extend invitations and set monthly agendas.

Estimated Time Commitment for each role
1.    Monthly residents meeting (1.5 – 2 hours)
2.    Leadership Team meeting (1 – 2 hours)
3.    Time spent on your volunteer activity (1.5 – 3 hours)

 

Municipal elections on Tuesday, Nov 3rd

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to vote during Tuesday’s municipal elections.  Polling locations and candidate information can be found at http://www.cityofboston.gov/myneighborhood and http://www.cityofboston.gov/elections/vote/pollinglocations.asp

Next meeting on Mon, Nov 9th – Modern Theatre

Our next monthly meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 9th at 7:00PM:
Modern Theatre at Suffolk University

525 Washington Street

(Handicap Accessible)
Agenda:

A special thank you to Suffolk University and John Nucci, Senior Vice President, External Affairs, for hosting the MCDRA meetings over the past year

Local business spotlight – Nest Salon
Safety update from BPD and MBTA Police Officers 

Julie Burros, City of Boston, Chief of Arts & Culture, will discuss the future of arts and culture in Boston

Next monthly meeting on Monday, Oct. 19th

Monday, October 19, 2015 at 7:00PM
Modern Theatre at Suffolk University
525 Washington Street

(Handicap Accessible)

Agenda

Athena Laines, representing Boston Creates, will discuss the city’s art plan and an opportunity to involve you in a town hall on October 31.

Ben Walsh from ArtsEmerson will share the ArtsEmerson schedule. He also hopes to learn more about what you want in a neighborhood theater.

Ja’Coall Bergstrom of Nest Salon on Bromfield Street will share more about her eco-friendly salon.

Next, we want to hear from YOU! Please come ready to share ideas about what you would like to discuss at future meetings and what you would like the Association to become in the future. We need your input to ensure that the Association is focused on what matters to you.

Mark your calendars: Julie Burros, the Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston, will be speaking at our November 9th meeting.

Zoning Board gives green light for medical marijuana dispensary

Backed by support from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, the City of Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted unanimously to approve Patriot Care’s proposal to open and operate a medical marijuana dispensary at 21 Milk Street.  The approval marks the end of an extended hearing process, which saw two deferrals and opposition from Downtown’s City Councilor and City Council President, Bill Linehan; the Boston Police Department; and neighborhood associations.

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