By Phil Orlandella
Charter Realty and Development attended another neighborhood meeting as they once again presented their proposal that encompasses the current four story residential/commercial building at 53 Salem Street and 64-66 Cross Street (one-story retail) also known as Martignetti’s.
The project comprises of 5,500 square feet with potential sidewalk seating if an agreement can be reached with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) which owns the property directly in front of the project.
The project is within the zoning guidelines and height limits at approximately 30-35 feet and has been approved for design by the Boston Development Authority (BRA) according to Karen Johnson of Charter Realty.
She mentioned that the BRA recommended at a meeting, that Charter Realty should consider going up 55 feet and expand the front of the property. The development firm for several reasons rejected that possibility and would go forward with their original plan presented to the community.
Although Charter Realty does not need any variance or other relief for their construction, they are interested in getting community support for their plan.
Residents at the meeting vigorously opposed the design of the project, claiming it did not have a relationship to the to the flavor of the North End and it looked like it should be located in the Back Bay area.
They asked the developer to add some brick work to the design. Johnson said, “It may be possible” but didn’t commit to the suggestion. She noted, “If a potential tenant wants some changes, it could possibly be worked out.”
In addition, residents are asked if the build and could be sold to one tenant. Johnson said, “They are still marketing tenants including some from the North End but nothing has developed at this time.”
Will Charter Realty sell the building was the last question asked. Johnson said, “Not at this time, but that could change.” She also noted that the “Firm usually holds onto the property for at least five years”.
Charter Realty will have to deal with the City of Boston, MassDOT and others to obtain related permits.
The project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2017 and Charter Realty will contact the neighborhood to inform residents of changes, tenant selection, and applications for any further licenses need.
Residents told the firm that they do not want chain stores in the project.
Construction information (times and staging locations) will be provided to the community. Traffic and pedestrian control will be established with the hiring of police details.