Friday, August 1, 2014
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Locals, developers debate green apt. complex in Allston

The Boston Redevelopment Authority held a town hall meeting on Wednesday concerning “The Icon” — the third and final new housing development in The Mount Vernon Company’s Green District in Allston — and faced mixed reactions from locals.

The Icon, a five-story, 93,260 square-foot building with 108 parking spots to be constructed on the corner of Brainerd Road and Redford Street, is designed to be the most environmentally friendly housing unit in the city, said Bruce Percelay, chief executive office of the Mount Vernon Company, at the meeting.

“We already owned properties in the area and, quite honestly, it was circumstance,” Percelay said. “We bought another one and realized that we were at a critical mass. We wanted to do something constructive with all these units so we decided to create a green culture.”

Two buildings have already been built in the green district, and comprise over 215,000 square feet and almost 200 parking spaces. Percelay said other green designs would be added to the complex including electric car charging and Hubway stations.

Some residents said they had concerns about the project.

“They’re adding too many cars into the neighborhood with this extra parking,” said Matthew Danish, 30, a graduate student in Allston. “The streets are going to get more congested and the air pollution is going to get worse.”

The Mount Vernon Company also wants to beautify the area by planting trees and flowers and investing $100,000 in public art for the Green District, Percelay said.

“The integration of green features that have never been used before makes this the most comprehensive green rental community in the region and maybe beyond,” he said. “We have ideas that we’ve implemented in this building that have never been used before and policies that encourage conservation.”

Daniel Daly, 43, an electrician in Brighton, said he was concerned the developers were not doing enough to benefit the community with this project.

“The owner and developer have a substantial footprint in the neighborhood and he seems to be not so concerned with hiring Boston, specifically Allston-Brighton, residents for his work or supporting community benefits,” Daly said.

Lance Campbell, BRA senior project manager, said he would try to mitigate any potentially negative situations.

“Right now, for the most part, what we usually hear are parking and density issues,” Campbell said. “We’ve heard that and it’s going to be a case-by-case issue on how to deal with it.”

Other residents said the new development would have a positive effect on the community.

“The BRA has to meet up to the community’s standard and make sure they’re taking care of people living in the immediate area, but as long as they’re being good to people, then I’m all for new development in the area,” said Brian Donoghue, 35, a carpenter in Brighton.

Danish also said the project would benefit the community.

“Overall it’s better for the community. We desperately need more housing,” he said. “The problem is that we want housing without seeing all the traffic problems.”

Percelay said he would devise solutions to potential problems of The Icon  and assured community members that their concerns would be addressed.

“We’ll be discussing with certain community groups to see if there are ways that we can promote or sponsor their activities,” Percelay said. “As far as the green aspect of the street, they [the community members] haven’t seen what we’re doing because it’s not done, but when they see what we’re doing they’ll feel a lot more comfortable.”

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