Last evening, an important milestone in the Church’s Plaza Revitalization Project was reached. The BRA Board unanimously approved the rezoning of the Plaza to allow for the construction of three new buildings and a small pavilion – in response to the Church’s filing in May for establishment of a Planned Development Area (PDA) Master Plan for the Plaza.
The journey is not yet over, as there will be a Boston Zoning Commission meeting to review and vote on the Church’s rezoning in September.
The locations of the proposed new buildings are on selected edges of the Plaza, as shown on Exhibit C of the PDA Master Plan. Two are on Belvidere and Dalton Streets across from the Sheraton and Hilton Hotels and one is on Huntington Avenue along the blank side of the Sunday School building. The small pavilion would be located at the corner of Huntington Ave and Belvidere St, near the Children’s Fountain.
After all approvals are in hand, the Church will seek proposals from developers, who will fund the projects. This will be done when market conditions are favorable, so the timing has not yet been determined. Specific building designs from developers will then go through an extensive public review process before construction will begin.
The development is part of the Plaza Revitalization Project (detailed in last November’s Plaza Revitalization Project Plan) with the objectives of enhancing the open space, improving environmental sustainability, and identifying opportunities for underutilized real estate on the Plaza.
The carefully situated new development will preserve the Plaza’s open space, respect the historic setting of the Plaza, and fit well with nearby commercial and residential neighborhoods. It will also generate additional real estate revenue to help cover the Church’s property expenses, thereby contributing to the Church’s goal of a self-sustaining real estate model.
This plan will benefit the City in many ways, bringing new activity to the area, producing additional property taxes, new construction and permanent jobs, more affordable housing (a required part of all residential projects), and improved sustainability for the Plaza.
The Mayor-appointed Citizen’s Advisory Committee, which has met with the Church more than 20 times over the last 2½ years, concluded: “All in all, the development should be a significant improvement for the area, and provide additional generations of Bostonians a wonderful public amenity supported by private funds.”