October 31, 2017 Hearing on Whether to Allow 29 Comm. Ave. (Haddon Hall) to Become a Private Club

29 Commonwealth Avenue - A Critical Decision for the Back Bay

On September 19th, NABB's Executive Committee voted unanimously to oppose an application to convert 29 Commonwealth Avenue - Haddon Hall - into a for-profit private club. This decision is based on our mission over the past 60 years, namely the protection of the residential quality of the Back Bay. We concluded that the impact of this club on residents and the neighborhood would predictably be identical to, and equally substantial and disruptive as, the impact of a restaurant, bar and hotel if licensed to operate at this same location, even though those uses are forbidden in this residential zone. Moreover, approval of a for-profit private club at this location would establish a disturbing precedent in favor of future conversions of buildings in Back Bay's residential zones into establishments whose operations would imperil the unique residential character of this neighborhood.

NABB's Licensing and Building Use (LBU) Committee has held two hearings on this proposed private club, and the City has held an additional abutters meeting. All three meetings were well attended by residents. They included presentations by the proponent and opportunities for residents to express their concerns and opinions and ask questions. Residents' concerns focus especially on traffic along Berkeley Street and the adjacent Public Alley 423, as well as on issues of noise and the impact of activities in a building that would be in use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The dining, bar and other facilities proposed for the club would accommodate over 350 people. Events including musical entertainment on the roof deck are anticipated until 10:00pm on weekdays and 11:00 pm on weeknights. The club would also contain 17 luxury rooms for overnight guests and a gym. The repercussions of these extended hours of operation and the scope of the activities envisaged would frequently and persistently aggravate the daily experiences and activities of Back Bay residents most directly exposed and vulnerable to them.
To enable the club's operations six current metered parking spaces in front of Haddon Hall would be removed from the public sphere and converted into private valet parking, since the club has neither a delivery zone nor parking for guests or employees. Use of these spaces for valet parking would not only reduce the amount of on-street parking available to residents but would remove the third lane for traffic between Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street that is now open between the high volume hours of 4 to 6 pm on weekdays when use of these parking spaces is prohibited. The valet spaces would also be used in lieu of a loading zone, which this location does not have. All of these changes and activities would have predictably disruptive consequences for traffic along Berkeley and Beacon Streets, and would exacerbate access to and egress from Storrow Drive during already very congested peak hours.
The Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) will hear this application on October 31st. We urge you to contact our representatives about your views and concerns prior to that heaing. Time is of the essence.  Letters to the ZBA have to be physically mailed and should be addressed as follows:

Christine Araujo, Chairperson
c/o Matthew Fitzgerald
Zoning Board of Appeals
1010 Massachusetts Ave., 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02118.
These letters should also be emailed to Matthew.Fitzgerald@ Boston.gov and the Mayor at Mayor@Boston.gov, as well as Back Bay's City Councilor, State Representative, the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services and, of course, NABB. Thank you.

You can also find more information about this important matter by going to the website of Back Bay residents who are opposed to the development of Haddon Hall: