An proposed apartment complex in East Somerville could reshape an area that borders Interstate 93.
The mostly market-rate apartments would attract young professionals, empty nesters and a "general mix" of people, according to Jack Englert, executive vice president and principal at the real estate firm.
The project would be built over semi-submerged "podium-level parking," which may be why Tatiana Vaez of East Somerville Main Streets, speaking briefly on the phone, described the project as five stories.
It would be constructed behind the Stop & Shop, near the intersection of Cross Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and Route 38, which serves as an on-ramp to Interstate 93.
Englert said the location near the highway is, in many ways, an asset, because it would give the apartments lots of visibility. That said, "The building isn't oriented to the highway," he added.
It would also be built with special windows and filtration systems so the highway wouldn't be a nuisance.
Englert said his firm is attracted to the site "because of all that's happening on East Broadway." The street is getting an $8 million facelift, and a number of new restaurants are moving in. The area is also near the Orange Line and several bus routes, Englert said.
As part of the proposal, the developers would rehabilitate the old Chuckie Harris Park and turn it into a passive green space, Englert said. A new Chuckie Harris park is under construction nearby on Cross Street, closer to Broadway.
That green space would be incorporated into the design of the apartment complex, and the developers would maintain it for the city in perpetuity, Englert said.
Developers met with folks from the neighborhood Monday night. Englert said, "We got a lot of feedback."
Ward 1 Alderman Maureen Bastardi said it was a "well attended meeting" and neighbors had "a lot of legitimate conerns."
Notably, people felt the influx of new residents brought by 120-units of housing would be too much for the neighborhood. Also, "traffic and parking is also a concern," Bastardi said.
She also said there's an open question about whether an apartment complex would be allowed on the the parcel. On old agreement with Stop & Shop may confine development at the site to non-medical commercial use. Bastardi said she was looking into that issue.
That said, the project itself "is a good design," Bastardi said.
It doesn't have a timeline at the moment, and Criterion hasn't officially presented an application to Somerville's planning board yet, because "we want to make sure to address the neighborhood concerns" and the project needs "a little tweaking," Englert said.
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