Tom English-Dorchester Market plan moving along; changes to plan noted

The developers of Tom English bar and the Dorchester Market site told members of the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association on Tuesday night that they expect to file plans with the city for a mixed-use building that would be slightly lower in height and less dense than was described at earlier meetings.

New designs presented by Adam Sarbaugh of Cornerstone Real Estate and his team show a single building with underground parking that would be four stories along the Dorchester Avenue and East Cottage Street intersection, five at its peak, and then down to four or three stories as it meets neighboring buildings. A new touch since earlier designs: The building now sports a more rounded front, recalling the Sugar Bowl building farther up Dorchester Avenue.

The proposed unit count is now 38 rental apartments, down from 40, in a mix of 12 studios, 19 one-bedrooms, and 7 two-bedrooms. The underground area now has room for 28 parking spots, some of them tandem. Plans to include 15-foot sidewalks around the front of the site for outdoor seating and market space are still included in the design.

“We still feel like the corner itself needs something to kind of create a moment at this corner,” said Kevin Deabler with RODE Architects. “It’s a very special place because of the market that’s been there forever, because of the amount of traffic that’s going through.”

Although all planning committee members said they liked the concept – keeping the long-time market and operator Peter McGee on the first floor, along with a restaurant – density was still an issue at the meeting.

“I appreciate coming down on the height,” said planning chair Eileen Fenton. “I love this project, I love the concept of this project, I really hope we can get behind this project, but I still have to say that 38 units at this spot without parking is a recipe for disaster.”

Other civic members echoed her concerns, citing the everyday traffic gridlock on the avenue. However, said civic member Bruce Shatswell, the site’s proximity to the JFK/UMass T station and an area with regular foot traffic puts it at a “crossroads of the community.”

Sarbaugh said the restaurant tenant would be geared toward those living nearby, who might come downstairs or walk from the surrounding blocks “I think the big benefit to this building is the market and Peter keeping his spot,” said City Councillor Frank Baker. “I think we’re underselling what the benefit is here.”

The development team asked to go before the association’s general membership in December when they expect to begin the city’s Article 80 small project review process by filing with the Boston Planning and Development Agency.