By SCOTT JACKSON
The Zoning Board of Appeals has given its approval to a developer’s plan to construct a 16-story building with 240 residential units on Hancock Street in North Quincy – a proposal the applicant said would rehabilitate a gateway to the city.
The plan still requires approval from the Planning Board before the project can commence.
The developer, Tremont Quincy 1 LLC, is seeking to construct the new building at 71 and 61-69 Hancock St. The two parcels contain 0.82 acres of land, according to the city’s online property records, and are currently home to Bert’s Electric Supply, Domino’s Pizza and a single-family home.
The applicant went before the Zoning Board of Appeals on May 11 and received the go-ahead from the board for the project that evening.
Sam Slater, the principal of the company seeking to construct the new building, told the board the proposal would greatly improve the surrounding area.
“I just wanted to say how committed we are to the city of Quincy and how confident we are that this is a project that brings tremendous value to the community,” Slater said, adding the project would be a “huge improvement to the community and to the neighborhood.”
During their presentation, the applicant’s team said the new building would enhance a gateway to Quincy.
“We are really excited about the building,” said Brian O’Connor, an architect with the firm CUBE 3. “The idea here is really to treat this as a gateway into the city and think about how we can start to combine some very traditional Quincy materials, the red brick and the masonry, on the front edge of the building with some really more modern materials towards the back.
“We really want this building to not only reflect and bring forward some of the language of downtown Quincy, but also to be a very overtly modern building that really welcomes sort of where the city is going.”
The first four floors of the building would serve as parking garage, with 204 total spaces available. Vehicles would enter and exit the garage on Newbury Street. The remaining 12 floors would house 240 residential units – a mix of studios, and one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
The top 12 floors would be constructed in an L-shape, leaving room for a 6,800-square-foot elevated courtyard on the fifth floor on the side of the building opposite Hancock Street. Other amenities would include a dog park for residents at the ground level and a sky lounge on the 16th floor of the building with views of Boston and Boston Harbor.
O’Connor noted there are other high-rise buildings in the area, including the 12-story Neponset Landing building and a 10-story building at 100 Hancock St.
“There are some larger buildings in the area and all three buildings that we are taking down are low-rise,” he said. “We think putting something a little bit more substantial here has an opportunity to really anchor the northern edge of the city.”
David Mahoney, the attorney representing the developer, noted the city currently collects $37,000 annually in property taxes from the two parcels. Once the new building is complete, the city could collect up to $800,000 annually in property taxes.
Shaun Kelly, the applicant’s traffic engineer, said 16,000 vehicles travel each day along the elevated section of Quincy Shore Drive near the project site, and the peak hourly traffic is about 1,400 vehicles. Some 3,000 vehicles traverse the section of Hancock Street adjacent to the project site on a daily basis, Kelly said, with up to 180 cars an hour during peak periods.
The new building would generate 60 to 70 vehicle trips during the busiest hour each morning and evening, he said.
“In terms of an increase, it is about a trip per minute coming and going from the site,” Kelly stated. “This project, in the immediate vicinity of the site where the impacts are most focused, it’s about a 5 percent increase in traffic – and I would point out that is assuming there was no traffic activity at the site today.”
Mahoney said there would likely be a shuttle bus to bring residents of the building to and from the North Quincy MBTA station.
Two residents spoke against the project during the May 11 ZBA meeting, both citing concerns about traffic and the size of the building.
“I’m very concerned about this 16-story building…the impact of the traffic flow,” said Pat Lescinskas, a Hancock Street resident. “I can’t see why they can’t do the building either eight or ten stories high. It shouldn’t be higher than that.”
Board members voted unanimously in favor of the project.
“I think it is a beautiful building,” said Martin Aikens, the board’s chairman.
“I would love to see people come into Quincy and see that baby right there telling them that is what we’re about and that is what this city is about – having something really nice when you come into the city. I want to thank the applicants for taking the time to go through the whole thing and really build something really nice.”
Board member John Himmel said he was concerned about vehicles using the intersection of Hancock Street and Newbury Street to access the site, but said that could be reviewed as part of the Planning Board’s process.