DOT Block development update: some twists and turns

A new rendering depicts the most recent iteration of the DOT Block development proposal for parcels along Dorchester Avenue near Glover’s Corner. Image courtesy RODE ArchitectsA new rendering depicts the most recent iteration of the DOT Block development proposal for parcels along Dorchester Avenue near Glover’s Corner. Image courtesy RODE Architects

The DOT Block mixed-use development is moving ahead, if moderately behind schedule, as developers await approval on the final design and work to finalize traffic flow through the Glovers Corner project.

Concerns at the retail level stalled progress late last year, prompting a new round of design review. Catherine O’Neill, who represents the developers, told the Reporter the concerns involved discussion about the appropriate grocer for a commercial section of the approximately 3.95-acre expanse. She noted that the developers have received interest from a national grocery chain, and may also pursue other possibilities, adding that retail commitments are typically difficult to lock down until a site receives permit approval.

“We hoped to have the permits in 2015,” O’Neill said, “but we’re not complaining. We believe the project is so enriched from the discussions we’ve had with the [Boston Civic Design Commission].”

The DOT Block team went before the design commission on Tues., Jan. 19, with an updated design plan that appears identical to the proposal presented in October at the Boston Redevelopment Authority-hosted public meeting on the project.

“Really, nothing has changed on the design,” O’Neill said. The project area remains 5 buildings of mixed residential and retail space – including 378 units of housing and 40,500 square feet of retail space – and a 5-story parking structure.

The meeting went well, according to O’Neill, with a full Boston Civic Design Commission board vote scheduled for Feb. 2.

In a separate set of discussions, developers are working with the Boston Transportation Department to finalize plans for traffic flow at the intersection of Hancock and Pleasant streets. A meeting was planned for some time this week to continue traffic discussions.

The roundabout proposed for this area in all previous planning iterations faced some pushback in public meetings, and developers have said that they remain flexible on finding the best fit for the intersection. Discussions revolve around the roundabout design versus traffic signals.
A map shows the layout of the proposed DOT Block site. `	Image courtesy RODE ArchitectsA map shows the layout of the proposed DOT Block site. ` Image courtesy RODE Architects
Community members will get another chance to weigh in, O’Neill said. Developers plan to bring the design to the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association for another vote. “We have no intentions of going to the [zoning] board without community approval,” O’Neill said. She added, “We have been very pleased with the community support.”

DOT Block remains in the BRA’s process pipeline. Still to come are additional negotiations, with permits ideally acquired in March, O’Neill said, adding that the development will likely come before the Zoning Board of Appeals in May or June.

Best case scenario? “Hopefully we can have a shovel in the ground by summer,” she said.