Zoning board okays 54 Pleasant Street project

A rendering shows what a planned 17 unit condo complex at 54 Pleasant Street will look like. It will replace what is now a funeral home.

The Zoning Board of Appeal approved a controversial housing project at the corner of Pleasant and Pearl streets this week, giving the go-ahead to the construction of a 17-condominium building at the site of the Scally & Trayers funeral home.

Giuseppe Arcari’s plans for 54 Pleasant St. has split residents and abutters in the area over the past year. In September, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) approved the project, which will put a three-story building with the 17 condos and 20 underground parking spaces on the 14,688-square-foot parcel.

At a Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association’s planning meeting, interactions were tense between civic members who had opposed the project and City Councillor Frank Baker, who joined the mayor’s office and Councillors Michelle Wu and Michael Flaherty in supporting the proposal. The officials cited substantial support in public letters, though opponents say community objections in the form of an online petition and opposing testimony were not taken into consideration.

Member Don Walsh said the project being approved was “horrible,” and would likely “be replicated throughout Dorchester.” Baker disagreed.

“That’s your opinion, Donnie, that that’s a horrible thing,” he said. “I happen to think that’s a good thing.” Referring to a 38-unit building being proposed for Dorchester Avenue, he said, “People actually want to be here now, which is a good thing, and we’re going to need buildings like this to accommodate the people that want to be here in Dorchester.”

Civic member Eileen Boyle lamented the state of the approval process itself. “The community process is dead. It’s dead in the city,” she said.

“Everything that went through to the ZBA, every single thing was approved. We basically don’t have an opinion. No matter what we say, it doesn’t matter.”

Arcari’s project now has the needed city approvals to move forward with his project, which detractors said was too dense for the neighborhood and demonstrated a failure to compromise and proponents praised as an attractive design that would bring needed housing to the neighborhood.