Large Development Proposed for French Club

Some 60 units of affordable housing are being proposed this week by The Neighborhood Developers in a $13 million five-story building that would occupy the French Naturalization Club at the end of Spencer Street.

The property is owned by TND and the City Council earlier this month discontinued the small street that runs between the Club and its parking lot. With that discontinuation by the City, TND now holds full control of the entire site and will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals on June 9.

The plan calls for demolishing the Club and constructing 60 new affordable rental units with 53 off-street parking spaces. The building would be situated in the middle of the site so that it would sit in the middle of the small cut-through street that has existed for some time (but was just discontinued).

The first floor would house a lobby, a community room, a laundry and community space. It would be accented with lots of windows to make clear sight lines through the building from the street.

Floors 2-5 would house all of the units. There would be six studios, 21 one-bedrooms, 24 two-bedrooms and nine three-bedrooms. All of the units would be means tested, which would mean that qualified residents could make no more than 60 percent of the median income (which is currently $59,000 for a family of four).

The total space of the building would be 79,989 sq. ft.

“The project will redevelop a commercial property that has become much less compatible with a growing residential neighborhood,” read the filing. “The site is particularly well suited for family housing because of its proximity to public schools, public parks, and local shopping.”

District Councillor Matt Frank said TND had already reached out to him and to neighbors. He described the project as a potential “stabilizing force” in the area.

“I think having TND in my district is a great thing,” he said. “They bring a lot of energy…They’re already talking to me and neighbors have already been talking to me about it. Everything is very positive now, and that’s especially true because the French Club had come to be known as a place where they had big parties. Also, El Xielo there has had problems. I think they’ll bring a stabilizing force to that corner.”

The proposal is coming in as a Residential Planned Development in the newly created RPOD-3 district that encompasses upper Broadway.

Filings indicated that the timing of the project depends upon state financing that may or may not come in the next round of affordable housing funds.

If the financing is delivered as expected, the $13 million project could start in the fall of 2016 and go through 16 months of construction.

It would be managed by a third party.

The French Club came to an end last year when a man sitting at the bar was murdered allegedly by an East Boston man who went on the run afterward. He was arrested shortly after leaving town. The victim was apparently not involved in the altercation that led to the shooting inside the club.

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