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:

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…



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 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.


The Leadership Team

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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 and

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.

Medical marijuana hearing deferred until August 4th

Following Patriot Care’s request for a deferral in June, the Mayor’s Office recommended that the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) defer a decision on Patriot Care’s application for a conditional use permit to locate a medical marijuana dispensary at 21 Milk St.  At the July 7th hearing, the ZBA acted on this recommendation and voted to defer any action on Patriot Care’s proposal until Tuesday, August 4th (9:30am, City Hall, Room 801).

At today’s hearing, the ZBA heard testimonies from elected officials and five testimonies each from those in support and opposition of Patriot Care’s proposal.  City Councilor Joshua Zakim spoke in favor of Patriot Care’s proposal while City Council President, Bill Linehan, who is also the City Councilor representing Midtown / Downtown Crossing, voiced strong opposition to the proposed location and his continued desire to work with Patriot Care to find a more suitable location.  Boston Police Department Deputy Superintendent Bernie O’Rourke spoke in opposition as well.  The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance spoke in favor of Patriot Care’s proposal while the Downtown Boston BID spoke in opposition.  Marc Epstein, owner of Milk Street Cafe, and Kristen Mansharamani, Founder and Executive Director of Torit Montessori School, also spoke in opposition.

The ZBA requested that Patriot Care work with Midtown / Downtown Crossing stakeholders to resolve open concerns prior to the August 4th hearing.

Medical marijuana dispensary hearing deferred until Tuesday, July 7th, 9:30am

UPDATE:  Patriot Care’s proposal to open and operate a medical marijuana dispensary at 21 Milk St. was on the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) agenda this morning. Patriot Care requested to have their hearing deferred. The request was granted and the new hearing date is Tuesday, July 7th, 9:30am (City Hall, Room 801).

Given the new hearing date, we would like to encourage residents to engage and have your voice heard.  If you have not yet had a chance to engage, we have summarized below various opportunities to do so:


How to Engage:

Attend the hearing on Tuesday, July 7th, 9:30am (City Hall, Room 801)

Take the 21 Milk Street survey [all results will be shared with City and State officials prior to the next hearing]

Send an e-mail to City and State officials to express your support or opposition to a dispensary at 21 Milk Street – please be sure to include your name and address.  You can send your e-mail to the following addresses (suggestion: copy / paste these addresses in the “To:” field of one e-mail vs. sending individual e-mails):;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Fax a letter or a copy of your email to the Zoning Board of Appeals – please be sure to include your name and address.  The fax number is (617) 635-2918 (we have been told that this fax number works sporadically)


Medical marijuana dispensary hearing on Tuesday, June 2nd, 9:30am

We have learned indirectly that the City of Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) will be considering Patriot Care’s proposal to open and operate a medical marijuana dispensary at 21 Milk Street.  The ZBA hearing will be held on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 9:30am in Room 801 at Boston City Hall.  It is unclear if this will be the only formal opportunity for the public to comment on this proposal – our hope is that the City will provide additional opportunities and notice for the public to engage.

At our April meeting, we heard from representatives of Patriot Care and the Downtown Boston BID.  Patriot Care is, of course, in favor of the proposed location while the Downtown Boston BID’s Board voted unanimously to oppose it.

How to Engage:

Attend the hearing

Take the survey – MCDRA has developed a survey (for Midtown / Downtown Crossing residents) related to the proposed dispensary. The survey is not intended to gauge opinions on the need for or legality of medical marijuana (63% of MA voters voted to legalize it in 2012).  The focus of the survey is the proposed location of the dispensary at 21 Milk Street. The survey can be accessed here.

Send an e-mail to City and State officials to express your support or opposition to a dispensary at 21 Milk Street – please be sure to include your name and address.  You can send your e-mail to the following addresses (suggestion: copy / paste these addresses in the “To:” field of one e-mail vs. sending individual e-mails):;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Fax a letter or a copy of your email to the Zoning Board of Appeals – please be sure to include your name and address.  The fax number is (617) 635-2918


All communications of support and opposition must be received by the City no later than Friday, May 29, 2015.

Next Meeting: Monday, 4/13, 7pm (Modern Theatre)

We look forward to seeing you at our next monthly meeting.  The focus of this meeting will be the proposed medical marijuana dispensary at 21 Milk Street.  Patriot Care, the group that aims to open and operate this proposed location, will deliver a presentation followed by Q&A.  We have also invited Rosemarie Sansone, President of the Downtown Boston BID, to offer the business community perspective on this proposed dispensary.


Monday, April 13, 2015 at 7:00pm

  • Location: Modern Theatre, 525 Washington Street (space provided in-kind)
  • Speakers & Guests
    • Patriot Care (the group that aims to operate the proposed medical marijuana dispensary at 21 Milk Street)
    • Rosemarie Sansone, President, Downtown Boston Improvement District (Downtown Boston BID)
    • Capt. Ken Fong and Sgt. Jimmy Chin, Boston Police Department
    • Lt. Cmdr. Chris Maynard, MBTA Transit Police

February Meeting (RESCHEDULED): Wednesday, 2/11, 7pm (Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common)

In light of the expected snowfall Sunday afternoon through Tuesday, our monthly meeting has been rescheduled to Wednesday, February 11th, 7:00pm at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common (Grand Ballroom).



Welcome:  James Zaratin, Director of Residences, Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common
Safety Update:  Capt. Ken Fong & Sgt. Jimmy Chin (District A-1)
Boston Public Garden / Common Presentation:  Liz Vizza, Executive Director, Friends of the Public Garden, and Chris Cook, Commissioner, City of Boston, Parks & Recreation
Social Sub-Committee Announcement
Other News

A special thank you to the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common for their hospitality!

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