Demolition on hold in Lower Mills as discussions continue

A rendering shows what a proposed new building at 1120-1132 Washington St. might look like if constructed in Lower Mills.

Developers of the large mixed-use condo proposal for a prominent stretch of Washington Street in Lower Mills are facing at least two city-run public meetings in the near future as they push for final approval of the project.

In the meantime, they have been meeting with abutters and city planners to update those groups on their latest plans.

Newton-based City Point Center, LLC, intends to construct a four-story building housing 57 residential units with two ground-level retail units at 1120-1132 Washington St. The site currently features three houses, including the former Molloy’s funeral parlor, which would be razed to make room for the new building.

Mike Skillin, president of the Lower Mills Civic Association, and civic member and Impact Advisory Group member Dave Mariea said the plans had not changed significantly when they were shown at a recent association meeting.

“They presented a similar proposal with different variations on the structure, but no major changes,” Mariea said. “Which, speaking for people who were there, we were surprised because last time they were there they were talking about ways to incorporate the historic structure.”

Any actual demolition or construction on the property is on hold for the moment. In March, the Boston Landmarks Commission, which monitors historically significant properties in the city, invoked a 90-day demolition delay, which ends around June 25.

The three buildings “make up that section of the historic streetscape in Lower Mills, kind of representing from 1750 to the 1870s,” said Rosanne Foley, the executive director of the Landmarks Commission, at the time.

Skillin hopes that some historic elements can be protected as part of a new design. “We certainly would like to see at least one of the buildings saved,” he said. “The funeral parlor itself is the oldest and probably the most significant, and if there was a way, we’d love to see that preserved.”

City Point Center plans to meet with the civic group again in June, a week before the demolition delay expires.

Mariea said the developers did not concretely rule out demolition once it is permitted, responding to questions about taking the buildings down with, “Well, technically yes, but that doesn’t mean we would do it.”

In an email to the Reporter this week, John Sambucci of City Point wrote, “There is no scheduled or projected demolition date as we are still engaged in the process of working with the neighbors, including meeting with the direct abutters to make changes they have suggested. The only changes to the plan at this time are in response to the neighbors’ ideas in the continuing desire to enhance the quality of life in Lower Mills.”

Bonnie McGilpin with the Boston Planning and Development Agency said the developers were to meet with abutters on Tuesday of this week, “and following that will be updating BPDA staff on any project updates that have been made. Following that, an Impact Advisory Group (IAG) and public meeting will be scheduled.”

The process has been long, but Skillin said he feels hopeful about their progress. City Point still needs to address Richmond Street abutter concerns over dumpster placement, he said.

“It’s been four years in the making and, yeah, there’s been changes since we first met with them,” he said. “We’re getting there, and there’s still things that need to be tweaked. This abutters meeting is key, because they’re the ones who have to live with it in their backyards.”