Eliot Neighborhood Association
Land Use Committee
Minutes for January 9th, 2017
DRAFT-not yet approved
a) 829 N Russell Street (Otak) proposing: 5-story shared housing project with 79 “micro-studios” and 14 common kitchens. A 800-900 square foot retail/commercial space will be located along the Russell St frontage. The site has a sewer running diagonally across it so they have a angled front entrance with a space for a coffee shop or similar retail space. The rest of the building is taken up by 1 room apartments 280-330 sq ft, 3 kitchens per floor and a small bike room on the ground floor for 20 bikes. There were concerns on the committee about pricing — how can it be affordable if the rooms are going for $900 — $3/sq ft and some comments about how value engineering might take out all of the nice things they showed at the end. There was a concern that with no car parking and very limited car parking the residents would take quite a bite out of available street parking in the area. We were told that the target demographic is a young one that targets “experiences” over material goods and are very transit/bike/walk friendly. It was mentioned how great it is to bike in the area when really it is not close to much without climbing a large hill.
b) The units are grouped such that the developer can claim there are six bedrooms for each kitchen, so 14 “units” rather than 79. The committee viewed this as misrepresentative of the project and possibly a way to end run building requirements that would apply to a 70 “unit” building, although none of the members present had sufficient knowledge to know if that was the case. Concern was also expressed that this “product” may miss the market as the Millennial generation’s demographic “bulge” will pass before it is completed. In addition, it is relatively isolated from amenities and zoning on surrounding industrial properties won’t allow much additional development to provide those amenities. The developer indicated they expect the units to appeal to bike-only residents who will leave the area for services along Mississippi. Otherwise, the comments on building design were very favorable, which some concern that the building may mislead prospective tenants into thinking it was more luxurious inside that it will be in fact. Concern was also raised about the density of units in an area which has the highest air pollution in the city. The developer was unaware of this fact and will recommend attention be paid to air filtration.
2. Air Pollution – major diesel operators in Eliot with unfiltered engines- should we push this issue & who wants to champion?
The top 2 unfiltered diesel operators in Eliot are:
NECN is having a meeting on Wednesday the 19th and it seems like a city-wide effort is going to be required to change the rules about diesel operation. There were some in the room who would like to hear more, and it seems that this issue is not a good one for the Land Use & Transportation committee to take up so it will see life in another arena. To Be Continued
NECN report here: http://necoalition.org/report/