PLEASE HELP DEFEND THE SPECIAL CHARACTER OF THE BACK BAY

Watch out -- It’s the tip of the iceberg! 

The owners of 28 Exeter Street (Kensington Investment) have applied to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance to allow more height and greater density (Floor-to-Area Ratio or  FAR) by adding a rooftop addition for “amenity space” to their building at the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets. As representatives of the residents of the Back Bay, the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) strongly opposes this application. For over 50 years NABB has successfully defended the zoning height in the Back Bay. Allowing an additional story here will encourage other building owners and developers to seek height increases throughout the Back Bay. 

If you enjoy the special character and scale of the Back Bay, please help us defend it! Here’s how: 

Come to the City’s Abutters Meeting on Monday, July 15 at 7 pm in the Commonwealth Salon at the Boston Public Library. Bring your friends and neighbors.   

If you cannot attend the meeting (and even if you can) please write to:  

Christine Araujo, Chairperson

Board of Appeal,

1010 Massachusetts Avenue 4th floor

Boston, MA 02118 

with email copies to NABB (info@NABBonline.com) and to 

Josh.Zakim@boston.gov;

Shanice.pimentel@boston.gov;

A.E.George@boston.gov;

Michael.F.Flaherty@boston.gov;

Althea.Garrison@boston.gov;

Michelle.Wu@boston.gov; 

Some important points about this project: 

1.    The building is already well over the height and FAR allowance for Newbury Street, which is the same as the residential district. The allowed height on Newbury Street is 65’, the building is already over 83’ and will be more than 97’ in height. The allowed FAR is 3. The building is already 5.81, and will increase to 6.02 if the addition is built—over twice the allowed density. 

2.    The project does not fulfill the requirement for zoning relief. There are no special conditions or hardships which deprive the property owner of the use of his property. There is no indication that the owners are having trouble renting the existing units at the current rates. Lack of amenities is not a hardship, especially when similar gathering spaces (gyms, restaurant, coffee shops, etc.) abound in the Back Bay. 

3.    The building was built under a tax abatement agreement designed to provide a public benefit -- low and moderate income housing, which Back Bay and the city as a whole sorely needs. Adding amenities such as a gym, a pool, dining space, etc. will undoubtedly lead to significant rent increases, which is contrary to the City’s stated housing goals.  

4.    The building will loom over Newbury Street even more than it does today, especially when looked at from the west. It will encourage other property owners to seek similar variances, permanently changing the scale of the street. 

5.    The owners already have a building that far exceeds the allowed zoning and the right to put any legal use they want within the existing envelope. 

For more information, contact The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, 160 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02116. email Info@NABBonline.com, tel. 617-247-3961