By SCOTT JACKSON
The applicant seeking to replace a South Quincy barroom with a 48-unit condominium building will go back to the drawing board after the initial proposal got a chilly reception from area residents.
The owners of Southside Tavern, located at 73 Liberty St., had proposed building the six-story, 48-unit building on site. Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci hosted a community meeting on the proposal Wednesday at the Morrisette Post; some 45 residents were in attendance.
Robert Harnais, the attorney representing the site’s owner, said they would go back to the drawing board after residents raised concerns about the size of the project during the hour-long meeting.
“We obviously have to go back and rethink this,” Harnais said at the close of the meeting. “Your job was to do exactly what you did – beat some sense into us to say, ‘OK, we have to look at this differently,’ and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Harnais said he would reach out to Palmucci once the new plan comes together and would be open to a second community meeting to go over the new concept.
“I can commit to you that, before we move forward on anything, we will go back to Brian, let him know the changes, and we will run it by you again,” Harnais said.
Harnais had opened the meeting saying he wanted the community’s input into the project before it goes before city boards for approval.
“I personally do not believe in putting a square peg in a round hole. You people have to help us make that square peg fit nice and properly,” he said. “I know what they are proposing here is a large project, but I also know what they are proposing here isn’t going to be what they get. We have to propose something to get people to the table.”
The Southside site, Harnais added, provides an opportunity for transit-oriented development given its proximity to the Quincy Adams MBTA station.
“Personally, the bar shouldn’t be there anymore,” he said. “It should change.”
Mark Sullivan, the architect who designed the proposal, said the building would stand six stories tall. Seventy-one parking spaces would be located in the building’s ground floor and a below-grade level. The lower garage level would be accessible from Quincy Street and the ground floor garage would be accessible from Liberty Street.
The residential units would be located on the upper levels – 10 units per story on floors two through five, and eight units on the sixth floor. The building would include four single-bedroom units, 40 two-bedroom units and four units with three bedrooms.
The project would require approval from the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. Sullivan said the initial proposal would requires variances from the ZBA for floor-area ratio, height, setbacks, open space and parking. Harnais said the project would need 1.5 parking spaces per unit, a total of 72 spaces for a 48-unit building, under the city’s code and his client was seeking to include fewer spaces because it is a transit-oriented development.
Several residents in attendance for the meeting said the project would be too big for the area and wouldn’t provide enough parking. Anthony Sansevero said he was circulating a petition opposing the proposal because of those concerns.
“I can tell you that 100 percent of the people I did get to talk to, they don’t want it,” he said. “They would much rather have a bar there than make a six-story building.”
Rosemarie Martin suggested the new development should be reduced so that it is similar in size to a six-unit building built recently on Penn Street.
“You take out about 42 [units], I think everyone in here would be happy,” she said. “The bar is annoying, it’s noisy in the summer, but I would rather have that noisy bar all summer long than this.”
“We need to work with you, but you need to cut that building, take out about four floors and about 40 apartments and we will all be happy with you,” Martin added.
In response to residents’ concerns about traffic and parking in the area, Chris Cassani, the head of the city’s traffic department, said his office has drafted a plan to make Liberty and Trafford Streets one-way roads between Brooks Avenue and Centre Street, with traffic flowing in opposite directions on Liberty and Trafford. Cassani said that would allow parking on both sides of Liberty and Trafford, with one 12-foot travel lane on each road.
Residents were lukewarm to the proposal Cassani unveiled; he said he would attend a community meeting in the future to further discuss traffic and parking woes in the area.
One resident, who did not give his name, said he was in favor of the proposal. He asked the building owner, Lou Bertucci, how much the bar pays in property taxes and how much the new building would pay.
Bertucci said it pays $10,400 in real estate taxes today while the new building would pay $240,000 annually.
Harnais fielded a number of questions from residents during the meeting. In response to one question, Harnais said it could take up to a year to permit and construct the new building. Another resident asked if a shuttle service could be provided between the new building and the train station, which Harnais said would be a possibility.
“When we start looking at places like this near a train station far enough that it’s not walk across the street like Deco, you start looking at some sort of shuttle back and forth to make it easier,” he said.
Harnais was also asked if the owner planned to offer any mitigation; Harnais said it would be provided in some form.
“Mitigation is usually part of it – it has to be,” he said.
Palmucci said area residents would help determine what that mitigation is.
“That’s part of what this is,” the councillor said. “You guys come up with a wish list.”
Feedback from residents, he added later, would be important during the permitting process before the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.
“They take your input seriously,” Palmucci said. “It’s not a done deal…You have a voice. You have a chance to shape. You have a chance to defeat the project. You have a chance to support this project if you love it.”