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Environmentally friendly apartment complex planned for Allston

There are 108 new apartments planned for a new green district in Allston. GRAPHIC BY ELVIN WONG/DAILY FREE PRESS
There are 108 new apartments planned for a new green district in Allston. GRAPHIC BY ELVIN WONG/DAILY FREE PRESS

Just a block south of Commonwealth Avenue near the Griggs Street T stop, a patch of empty space sits enclosed by a tall chain-link fence.

Technically in Allston — but practically in Brookline — the plot stands empty, save for a gray dumpster and a few stray pieces of debris. But if the Mount Vernon Company, a New England-based real estate firm, has its way, the plot at 75 Brainerd Road will be the site of a new apartment complex that the firm intends to make one of the most environmentally conscious buildings in America.

The firm submitted plans for the building, entitled the ‘Icon,’ to the city in Jan. 14. Once completed, it will house a total of 108 studio and one-bedroom apartment units and 108 parking spaces, and add to a block’s worth of other apartment buildings the company has dubbed the ‘Green District,’ said Jason Wright, an assistant to city councilor Mark Ciommo, of Allston-Brighton.

Within this ‘Green District,’ which stretches along Griggs Street and Brainerd Road, the company has already repurposed two existing buildings, built two new buildings and begun construction on another, Wright said. Each one was designed with strict attention paid to the environment, said Bruce Percelay, chairman and founder of the MVC, and between the four existing buildings and the one currently under construction, they employ solar roof panels, electric-car charging stations and on-site Zipcar and Hubway stations.

The MVC aims to earn a Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design platinum energy-efficiency certification with the proposed Icon building, Wright said, noting that the company has applied a “micro-unit philosophy” to its design plans.

The eco-friendly approach has been popular with tenants already living in the MVC’s ‘Green District,’ Percelay said, noting that 60 percent of tenants said they were drawn primarily to the buildings because of their green aspects.

The new building, which would cost about $25 million to construct, would have “hydration stations” to provide tenants with “100 percent pure water for free” in an effort to cut down on plastic-water-bottle use, Percelay said. It would also use a plastic “recycled grass roof” that would reflect and absorb heat in the optimal ratio and a “sophisticated recycling system” that would allow residents to recycle organic waste.

The building would represent the MVC’s latest effort to “make the neighborhood as desirable as possible,” to tenants looking for upscale housing, Percelay said. The MVC has invested $120 million in the area to date, he added.

The area, which used to be characterized by industrial buidlings, now stands distinct from the house-style apartments and brick housing complexes that surround it.

Whether the Icon gets built depends on neighborhood and city approval, said Lance Campbell, the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s manager for the project. The city will assess the impact such a building would have on the neighborhood, using input from the community, he said.

Campbell said it’s still too early to predict definitively whether area residents will receive plans for the building well.

But early indications show the neighborhood may support it, Wright said, adding that the buildings that had previously stood in the plot were notoriously utilized as canvases for graffiti.

If the building passes review, it would take about three-and-a-half years to construct, creating 200 jobs per year of construction, Percelay said.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority has scheduled a communitywide meeting to discuss plans for the proposed building Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Jackson Mann Community Center at 500 Cambridge St.

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