Editor's Note: A BRA-sponsored public meeting on the DOT Block proposal will be held tonight (Feb. 23) from 6-8 p.m. at the Paul R. McLaughlin Youth Center, 1135 Dorchester Ave. Contact Gary Uter, BRA project manager at 617-918-4457 or Gary.Uter@Boston.gov.
The following article was published in the Feb. 4 Reporter: The Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association voted Monday night to approve the most recent iteration of the DOT Block project after the development team presented a slightly updated version of the ambitious Glover’s Corner mixed-use development at the group’s monthly meeting.
Eric Robinson of RODE Architects said the project as it stands will include 374 residential units, about 40,000 square feet of retail space, and some 450 parking spots in a five-story garage. One alteration involved the addition of a right-turn access point toward the garage for traffic moving southbound on Dorchester Avenue.
“We’ve had some stops and starts, but what we will present to you today is what we hope will be the final project,” said Catherine O’Neill, who represents the developers. O’Neill said Monday’s meeting was the 111th session they have had on the project over the past two years.
“We’ve all been very close to this for a couple of years, so I think it’s very positive,” said Eileen Boyle, chair of the civic association’s planning committee. Boyle agreed with O’Neill’s estimate on number of meetings in recent years, adding that the developers have been very proactive in bringing the project to the Columbia-Savin Hill group.
The discussion hit a slight snag when Don Walsh, another member of the planning committee, expressed trepidation about approving the project as it is, noting that the development team does not own three properties adjacent to the development on the corner of Dorchester Ave and Hancock Street
“What’s the rush?” asked Walsh, who said that waiting on a vote until the project included the entire expanse of the corner would help everyone better visualize the impact the addition would have on the marquee location.
O’Neill, who said the developers “are still working diligently to get those properties under control,” countered Walsh’s hesitation, saying, “When I think about rushing, I don’t think about DOT Block.”
She pointed out that the stretch of industrial space that makes up the DOT Block site is in disrepair and an area known for criminal activity. In the last three months, O’Neill said, a methamphetamine lab was found on the property, which necessitated cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration to dismantle it.
Developers maintain that their proposal for the almost five-acre site will rejuvenate a busy corner of the neighborhood by bringing a grocer and other smaller retailers to the block.
The association approved the project by a 29-4 vote. It was also approved at a full board vote of the Boston Civic Design Commission on Tuesday night. Traffic matters are still under discussion with the Boston Transportation Department.
In other association business:
• Workers with the FEMA Corps came to ensure residents were aware of the new flood maps, which would require some Dorchester homeowners to purchase flood insurance.
• Savin Hill resident Laura McNeill pitched members on supporting an attempt at a plastic bag ban in Boston.
• Ashmont/St. Mark’s resident Pamela Civins spoke on the 50-year-old student mentoring group Partners in Education.
• Dave Cotter, the Dorchester liaison for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, introduced a survey process as part of the city’s Imagine Boston 2030 that will consist of in-person group discussions.