By SCOTT JACKSON
A Quincy-based company has unveiled formal plans to redevelop part of former Ross Lot in Quincy Center, including a 20-story tower housing a combined 325 hotel rooms and apartments, a 150,000-square-foot office building, a two-story building with a restaurant and other amenities, and a 490-car garage.
FoxRock Properties pitched the proposed redevelopment, known as SwitchPoint Quincy, to the Planning Board during its meeting on Sept. 8. FoxRock is seeking two separate approvals from the board; the first is a certificate of consistency for the overall project and the second is a special permit to build the hotel and residential structure 20 stories high.
The board did not vote on the proposal that evening and will take up the matter again on Nov. 10. It has not been determined whether November’s meeting will be held remotely like the Sept. 8 session was or in-person.
FoxRock’s development would be located at 37R and 86 Parkingway, which is within the former Ross Lot in Quincy Center. The roughly triangular parcel – which is bounded by General Dunford Drive to the south, Granite Street to the north, General McConville Way to the east and the MBTA tracks to the west – contains 117,366 square feet of land and is located within the Quincy Center Zoning District-15, where buildings can be constructed 15 stories tall by-right and 20 stories high with a special permit.
The developer hopes to begin construction on site in the spring of 2022 and complete the project by early 2024.
FoxRock and Mayor Thomas Koch had negotiated a land disposition agreement, which the City Council approved in June 2019, allowing the company to acquire that portion of the Ross Lot from the city and to redevelop it. That LDA also allowed the company to buy out the city’s right of reverter at 114 Whitwell St., formerly home to Quincy Medical Center, freeing it up for a residential redevelopment. The developer agreed to pay the city $4.25 million as part of the pact.
The new office building would be located at the south end of the parcel, abutting General Dunford Drive. The hotel and residential tower – which, at 20 stories, would be the tallest building in Quincy – would be located at the north end of the site, separated from Granite Street by a new outdoor amenity area. The garage would be located in between those two buildings sitting behind the two-story commercial building on General McConville Way. The office building and 20-story tower would both have retail space on the ground floor as well.
“The project aims to create a vibrant streetscape through programming active uses along the ground floor with both lobbies, retail spaces and a series of outdoor spaces of different scales and type,” Josh Kleinman, FoxRock’s director of design and construction, told the board.
“We’ve located loading docks and back-of-house facilities away from McConville Way to truly create a pedestrian-centric city block.”
David Bois, principal at the design firm Arrowstreet, the master planner for the project, said the various uses included in the proposal would create an active site.
“We’re really looking to create an active, 18-hour environment with office, retail, hotel and residential,” he said.
In February 2019, Koch announced that FoxRock had struck a deal with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and South Shore Health System, the parent organization of South Shore Hospital, to lease space within the proposed office building.
At the Sept. 8 board meeting, Kleinman said the office building had been designed for medical uses. Ed Hodges, principal at the architectural firm Dimella Shaffer, said the office building would have a “robust infrastructure to handle a variety of tenants that may come along.”
The 20-story tower at the north end of the site would have 125 hotel rooms on the lower five floors and 200 apartments on the upper floors, with separate entrances for the hotel and the residences.
FoxRock’s initial plans for the Quincy Center site, as unveiled in 2019, included 110 units of workforce housing. Following the Sept. 8 meeting, a spokesperson for the company told The Sun “The project will have to go in front of the affordable housing trust which will determine the affordability requirements for the project.”
The garage, which will be located between the two larger buildings, would have space for 490 vehicles. FoxRock plans to include 20 charging stations for electric vehicles when the garage first opens, with capacity to add more charging stations in the future.
In addition to the 490 spaces FoxRock would construct in the garage, the city will set aside 300 spaces to the south of General Dunford Drive for the developer in accordance with the 2019 land disposition agreement. A new municipal garage has been proposed for that area to replace the garage formerly on the Ross Lot.
A two-story commercial building would sit between the new garage and General McConville Way. Bois said the ground floor would house a 6,000-square-foot restaurant – with additional space for outdoor dining – and the second floor would feature amenity and meeting space for the hotel next door.
Karlis Skulte, the applicant’s engineer, said the city has upgraded utilities – such as sewer and water mains – in the vicinity of the former Ross Lot in recent years to prepare the area for future development.
“Throughout the years, McConville Way as well as this area have been redeveloped and the city has spent a good amount of time and energy into improving the utilities within McConville Way,” Skulte said.
“As a rule of thumb, we are tying into all of the utility services and the design elements that have been installed essentially to facilitate redevelopment in this parcel as well as others in the area.”
Members of the public were invited to comment on the project during the Sept. 8 meeting.
Greg Baryza, a resident of the nearby Cliveden Place development, said he was in favor of the proposal.
“I am not speaking to object to any of this stuff – as a matter of fact, I am in favor of it,” he said. “My wife and I sold our house in the suburbs of Boston. We decided to live in a downtown area, we wanted to live close to public transportation, and we didn’t mind being part of a development district.”
In a letter to the board, which was read into the record during the meeting, Baryza raised concerns about the impact construction nearby would have on his building. He said his building “experienced regular and significant shaking” when the buildings formerly on the Parkingway were demolished and new infrastructure was installed in the area.
“I submitted pictures of furniture that had moved as a result of the shaking, movies of water sloshing back and forth in bottles, and potted plants quivering from the vibrations. My wife’s antique glass collection was put at risk because pieces were sliding to the edge of shelves in their display case,” Baryza said. “This occurred periodically, often multiple times per day, multiple days per week, over the past two years.”
Matt Warner, a Bigelow Street resident, said that “development is a thing that is going to happen – it’s not a bad thing,” but added he was “a little bit surprised and disappointed” that FoxRock was proposing to construct a 20-story building on site rather than a 15-story one. Warner also questioned how people would be able to access the medical office building if they had to park in the 300 spaces the city would be providing on the opposite side of General Dunford Drive.
Ward 5 Councillor Charles Phelan Jr., in whose district the site is located, said the Planning Board should take steps to protect nearby residents from construction impacts as part of the permitting process.
“Whether it is noise mitigation, vibration mitigation, I’m not sure how you do that, but I think we have to take a look at that,” Phelan said.
“The residents, they are living there, they are going to be living there through this and this is a lot to go through. What I think is going to happen afterwards is they are going to have a beautiful backyard, but for now, the next couple of years when they are doing the development, we have to take them into consideration.”
Following the public comments, board chairperson Richard Meade said he and his fellow board members would need time to consider the application.
“I think we need some additional time obviously to get through the information to digest it. What I would suggest is that the board put this on its agenda for November – not October,” Meade said.“I’m not suggesting we’re going to be in a position to vote it up or down in November, but…we will have an opportunity to discuss it further and digest it a little more.”
David Mahoney, the attorney representing FoxRock at the hearing, said he agreed with the decision to schedule the matter for the November meeting.