By SCOTT JACKSON
The Planning Board approved a developer’s proposal to build 465 apartments on the site of Quincy Medical Center – a project that opposed by area residents and several city councillors over concerns about its size and impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
The board approved Quincy-based FoxRock Properties’ plan for the 14.97-acre site at 114 Whitwell St., which is located in a planned unit development zoning district, in a unanimous vote Wednesday. The 465 apartments would be split between seven buildings on site, the tallest of which would be six stories. The developer will include 590 parking spaces on site.
Gregory Galvin, the board’s vice chairman, said the project complies with the city’s zoning code.
“The bylaw would allow a more dense project than is being proposed,” Galvin said shortly before the vote, adding the project also meets the requirements for building height and setbacks from the property line.
Several of the 100 residents in attendance at the City Hall meeting jeered the board’s vote, shouting “shame on you.”
Ted Mulrane, president of the Hospital Hill Neighborhoods Association, called the decision a disappointment.
“It’s a disappointment,” he said following the vote. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Mulrane said it was too soon to say if area residents would pursue litigation. The board’s decision can be appealed within 20 days.
FoxRock, which is owned by Granite Telecommunications founder Rob Hale, purchased the hospital site in December 2016. Mayor Thomas Koch at that time also designated FoxRock as the developer for a portion of the Ross Lot in Quincy Center, where the company has proposed building a medical office building, hotel and housing.
The company’s first proposal for the Whitwell Street site, which was presented to the Planning Board in October 2018, included 598 apartments. In May, the developer presented a revised plan dubbed “Ashlar Park” with 490 units – 52 studios, 325 one-bedroom units, 196 two-bedroom units and 45 units with the three bedrooms.
The plan approved by the board includes 465 units – 65 studio units, 247 units with one bedroom, 278 two-bedroom units and 42 three-bedroom units. The total number of bedrooms, 632, is more than the 618 proposed in May.
FoxRock’s Josh Kleinman said the number of two-bedroom units was increased based on feedback the company received from neighbors. The project, he said, would be targeted at baby boomers looking to downsize while staying in Quincy.
“This is going to be a transformational project for a blighted site, the neighborhood and the city,” Kleinman said. “It’s going to be a site where project residents and neighbors alike can walk their dogs, sip their coffee and take evening strolls. This is going to be a great project…that will improve the quality of life for all parties.”
The units would be split between seven buildings on site, the tallest of which would be six stories. The developer will include 590 parking spaces on site.
The board attached 36 special conditions, as recommended by the city’s Planning Department, to its approval of FoxRock’s plan.
Those conditions include a payment of $1 million to the city for mitigation; that will include the installation of a new traffic signal at the intersection of Whitwell and Adams streets and other work, such as widened sidewalks to improve pedestrian access. The developer will also have to hire a full-time onsite traffic coordinator; offer new tenants a complementary MBTA pass for their first month; run a shuttle bus during rush hour between the site and the Quincy Center MBTA station for ten years, which the board could extend for another decade; and build an MBTA bus shelter on the north side of Whitwell Street.
The project is subject to the city’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance and FoxRock will be required to adhere to the decision of the Quincy Affordable Housing Trust Committee for the project. The developer will also have to make a payment to the city’s sewer rehabilitation fund.
Representatives from the Hospital Hill Neighborhoods Association and a dozen area residents spoke against the project before the board’s vote. The board also received letters from a dozen residents opposed to the plan.
Will Smith of the HHNA said the proposal was too dense and suggested the developer reduce its size to a maximum of 350 units with 500 bedrooms between them.
“I would like to emphasize that HHNA is not opposed to the redevelopment of this site. We believe it is in the best interest of the city and the neighborhood to get this done,” Smith said. “This proposal is overwhelming for a Residential A and B neighborhood.”
Jocelyn Sedney of Monroe Road said the $1 million the developer will pay the city would not cover the amount of mitigation work to be done.
“It’s never going to pay for all of that,” Sedney said. “We, the citizens of Quincy, are going to underwrite this project so that this major corporation…can make millions of dollars.”
Ward 5 Councillor-elect Charles Phelan Jr. also voiced his opposition to the project, as did Ward 2 Councillor Brad Croall and all three councillors-at-large – Noel DiBona, Nina Liang and Anne Mahoney.
Phelan said the plan remained too dense.
“This development is very dense. It doesn’t fit in the character of residence A and residence B, which is all around it,” he said. “It adds a lot of people to a congested area.”
One person, Taunton resident John Rodophele, supported the project, saying it would create new growth for the city. The board also received 21 letters in support of the plan.