Arlington Redevelopment Board - Sep 23rd, 2019

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Special Permits 3519, 3520. The first agenda items covers two projects by the Housing Corporation of Arlington. 3519 is 19R Park Ave (also known as Downing Square); 3520 is 117 Broadway. These permits have already been granted. Tonight, Pam Hallet and her architect are here to demonstrate compliance with special permit conditions.

HCA's architect starts with a presentation of the Downing Square project. The site plan is generally unchanged. There will be stairs and a ramp to link the property with the minuteman bikeway. HCA will plant trees along Park Ave, and along the entrance to the site. There were a some changes to the window configuration, and three inches were added to the height of each floor, in order to accommodate mechanical systems. The architect brought brick samples for the board to examine.

The discussion moves to 117 Broadway. HCA is discussing the layout of the ground floor with a potential tenant, Arlington EATS. There's no change to the number of parking spaces. They've moved a few windows around, and plan to retain the curved corner wall.

Kin Lau recalls an earlier hearing, where they'd discussed changes to the position of the first floor entrances. Ms. Hallet and her architect show how these suggestions were incorporated into the current plan.

There's a question about signage. There's not much signage planned for the buildings. 117 Broadway will have a sign with the street address. There won't be any lettering at Downing Square. Ms. Hallet said they'll come before the board if there's a desire to add signs in the future.

Rachel Zsembery asks where the commercial tenants could put a sign, and how it would integrate with the awnings and windows.

117 Broadway will have some exterior lighting in the rear of the building, and a pole light to illuminate the parking lot.

Bicycle parking is the next topic. 117 Broadway will have a covered, gated bicycle parking with space for 18 bikes. David Watson said that this was the first project where the ARB really looked at bicycle parking options. The town adopted a very different set of bicycle parking regulations after these permit were issued. He doesn't believe the ARB can impose those requirements now, but he'd like to cite a few issues. Current regulations don't permit racks that require a bicycle to be lifted, and the proposed racks don't meet this requirement. The architect offers to look at different rack configurations. Mr. Watson notes the current bylaw would require 21 bicycle parking spaces at 117 Broadway, and even more at Downing square (1.5 spaces per apartment). Mr. Watson suggests working with the planning department to find racks that are more compliant, and to look for ways to get closer to the current parking requirements. Ms. Hallet and the architect agree to do this. The architect doesn't think it will be difficult to add short-term bicycle parking spaces outside.

Ms. Zsembery asks several questions about the color choices for Downing square, and there's discussion about treatment of the exterior facade.

Eugene Benson asks if HCA plans to plant trees along Everett street (as part of the 117 Broadway project). Ms. Hallet says they can add street trees, if there's room for them along the sidewalk.

The board opens the hearing to public comment. The first comments come from a fellow named Brian, who's one of HCA's tenants. Brian extends his gratitude to Ms. Hallet and HCA. He was injured in a diving accident and has been a quadriplegic for the last seven years.

Steve Revilak offers support for the 117 Broadway project, and looks forward to welcoming HCA into the neighborhood. He credits Ms. Hallet for providing a lot of housing in town.

The board accepts the plans as meeting the special permit requirements for these projects.

Meeting Minutes. The board discusses the draft minutes for their Aug 12th meeting. Minutes approved 4-0-1.

Open Forum. The Board offers Mr. Seltzer an opportunity to present during their Oct 7th meeting, after Adam Chapdelaine gives his housing presentation to the board. Mr. Watson and Mr. Bunnell thank Mr. Seltzer for his participation in the public process.

Steve Revilak said he planned to provide the board with a summary of Envision Arlington's housing survey from town day. Mr. Revilak asks if he should delay this presentation until the board's Oct 7th meeting. The board agrees that hearing this presentation on Oct 7th would be more appropriate.