Potentially, the newest neighbors in the Mill Hill neighborhood at the Forbes Plant site won’t be able to be missed under any circumstance.
That’s because plans call for them to be 27 stories in the air.
A detailed plan of several hundreds pages – and prepared by some of the most renowned architects, lawyers and engineers in Boston – has been submitted by a Chinese company to the City for the Forbes site and calls for 534 residential apartments in towers stretching as high as 27 stories, a 224 rooms in two hotels, a 333 seat luxury restaurant and nearly 100,000 sq. ft. of office space – all utilizing one single access point over the railroad tracks at Crescent Ave..
The gargantuan, high-rise development on Chelsea Creek comes just one week after the active Mill Hill neighborhood organized and vocally turned back a much smaller 60-unit development at the French Club.
“It’s absolutely a ludicrous proposal,” said District Councillor Matt Frank. “I spoke with the Planning Department and the City Manager and they say it doesn’t seem to be completely serious. We still need to treat it as if it is serious. It’s on of those things you have to keep an eye on. Absolutely not. No way. Never ever. I can’t use the word ludicrous enough when it comes to this.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the project is probably not all that serious, and so its probably not worth neighbors getting super-charged over. However, he said that given the development climate, neighbors should be ready for something to be located at Forbes.
“We did get that proposal and it entails 1.5 million square feet of development with high-rises and two hotels,” he said. “It is probably a little too intense. We will have to hold a hearing on it and we will do that at the end of September. My guess is that it won’t be that much of a hearing. My message to the neighbors is that they should not panic because it doesn’t appear to be anything the City would likely approve in its current fashion. It’s nothing to get all worked up about at this point. It will be quite a while before anything is decided there. It is an interesting site and it’s not likely to remain undeveloped and won’t be a few single-family homes when it is developed.”
YIHE Forbes LLC, of Guangzhou, China, has proposed the development via the Boston law firm Davis, Malm & D’Agostine.
The company, in its filing with the City, said it “aspires to the creation of nature, archeology, culture and harmonious living habitats….Every project that YIHE has accomplished has become the local luxury benchmark of the City.”
The proposal calls for five phases of development and a development that steps down to the water.
That means that the tallest buildings, up to 27 stories, would be on the back of the lot nearest the train tracks and the neighborhood.
Only two of the existing Forbes buildings would be retained.
The first phase of development would build 136 units in a high-rise on the northern end of the 18-acre parcel.
The second and third phase would continue high-rise apartment development adjacent to the train tracks.
The fourth and fifth phases would develop the hotels, commercial/retail spaces and the office space.
The front of the site would contain low-rise residential housing and would be in Phase 3.
There would be 1,300 parking spots in a garage located below the entire development and a plaza.
The plan calls for 142,294 sq. ft. of retail and commercial space and 94,723 sq. ft. of office space.
The buildout is targeted as 11 years in total, but most of the construction is scheduled to take place in the first four years.
While the project has no total value set to it, it is said to be a market rate housing development. There is also mention of housing for foreign students as well – which could be the real purpose of the development, in whatever form it eventually takes.
Companies associated with the slick-looking submission are Arrowstreet Architects, Epsilon Associates Environmental, Millennium Architecture and Halvorson Design.
Frank said that is one of the things that troubles him most about the alleged lack of seriousness. The players involved are rather serious, top-flight development consultants in Boston who have worked on the most notable developments in Greater Boston.
“The people involved are not people who just get involved to slap their name on a resume,” he said. “These are people you may big money to get
…I don’t know if this is one of those things where they propose a 27-story tower and then back off to a 15-story tower and hope that people will accept it because it’s better than what was there first. The neighborhood has just recently stood up against a much smaller development. I’m not sure what the solution is on the Forbes site, but a 27-story building is surely no the solution.”
YIHE is calling for a Planned Development designation and would need loads and loads of zoning changes. The maximum height allowed in the district now is 35 feet by right, and YIHE proposes to go up to nearly 300 feet.