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Mixed-use development project slated for Mattapan’s Blue Hill Avenue

Plans call for sit-down restaurant, 21 condos; developer, community groups outlined benefits

Jule Pattison-Gordon
Mixed-use development project slated for Mattapan’s Blue Hill Avenue
Rendering of the building proposed for 1199-1203 Blue Hill Avenue. (Photo: Project rendering courtesy of Karen Bunch, consultant)

Expectations are high for a Mattapan development that could turn several blighted lots into a mixed-use, residential and retail project, with space for sit-down restaurants. Under plans filed with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, 1199-1203 Blue Hill Avenue — currently two vacant lots and a windowless one-story commercial building — would be transformed. The resulting project is intended as a four-story building with three one-bedroom and eighteen two-bedroom condos as well as ground-floor retail and restaurant space.

Karen Bunch, project consultant for the project, said one purpose of the development was to create homeownership opportunities. She could not speak to the number of units that will be market rate or income restricted.

The $12 million project is being developed by Allston-Brighton landlord George Minasidis, who currently manages 20 units and purchased the parcels for about $349,000. The project plans include 3,000 square feet of retail space; a 55-seat, 2,800 square foot restaurant with potential for outside seating; an underground garage with 22 spaces; covered storage accommodating 25 bicycles; planting and benches along the avenue; and a rear courtyard with plantings.

Particular excitement was expressed over the restaurant space.

“[The project] will provide what the neighborhood most wants: a sit-down restaurant in a nice establishment and environment,” state Rep. Russell Holmes told the Banner. He called the development “very transformative.”

According to Bunch, there also is interest in locating a bakery-café on site, filling a vacancy in consumer offerings. Currently the area suffers from limited options for customers and venue offerings for businesses, she said.

“There’s not enough places you can go and actually sit down and open up your laptop and have an interview or a meeting,” Bunch told the Banner. “There’s so much leakage [of consumer dollars and entrepreneurs] out of the community. There’s an opportunity to put another retailer there or two additional retailers there. [Businesses] leave because there’s no space to work.”

David Lopes of the Wellington Hill Neighborhood Association, said the project will be a significant aesthetic improvement over a blighted block, and will bring needed housing while locating parking underground in order not to exacerbate an existing parking strain.

“I think it’s good for the community,” Lopes said in a Banner phone interview.

Significantly, he said, the developers have made sure to work with community groups, such as his neighborhood association, to generate community benefits and shape the design. A memorandum of understanding was hashed out between the community and developers stipulating a list of nine community benefits. These include a one-time scholarship awarded to a deserving youth who lives in the community to go to a trade school such as North Bennet Street School, Lopes said. Under other benefits, the developers would send letters in support of a community push to get police foot patrols in the area during high traffic and business hours and aim for 35 percent minority business enterprise participation in the construction while abiding by Boston Resident Jobs Policy in hiring. Bunch said her team will be reaching out to community groups for the hiring process.

Lopes said developers also came to an agreement with residents over the types of retail businesses that the project would house. The area has hit saturation point with dollar stores, liquor stores and storefront churches, Lopes said. Instead, there is a strong desire for nice restaurants and businesses that create jobs and enhance the business atmosphere, he said. Residents requested as well that parking in front of the building be limited to two hours so as to ensure room for customers seeking to patronize businesses.

Finally, Lopes said, residents wanted to be sure that quality materials are used in construction so that anything built in the area does not end up deteriorating within a few years. Based on design plans presented, Lopes said he feels confident in the aesthetics and lasting quality of the building.

Next steps

Should BPDA review and zoning relief processes go smoothly, the project is anticipated to be completed by the second quarter of 2019, according to documents filed with the BPDA.

Lopes said the developer will be scheduling a meeting soon with the neighborhood association to present his full plans. If all goes well, the Wellington Hill Neighborhood Association then will provide them with a letter of support.