Five-story plan eyed for Tom English, Dorchester Market site

A newly-released rendering prepared by RODE Architects shows how a proposed new building at 959 Dorchester Ave. would rise above the intersection with East Cottage Street.

Developers are moving ahead with plans for a mixed-use building to replace the Tom English Bar and Dorchester Market sites on a prominent Dorchester Avenue corner. Zoning review documents filed with the city of Boston last week show a five-story building with two commercial spaces would rise above the intersection at East Cottage Street.

The 959 Dorchester Ave. project pitches a multi-floor building with 38 residential units, a restaurant, and a market. Four levels of rental apartments, staggering upward in height from where they meet neighboring buildings, would sit above the new commercial spaces.

Property owner Adam Sarbaugh has filed for a permit to erect, enlarge, alter, substantially repair, move, demolish or change occupancy of building or structure with the city’s Inspectional Services Department.

It would top out at just over 60 feet in height; the 38 rental apartments would be mostly studios and one-bedroom units. Twenty-six underground parking spaces, including tandem spaces, would be accessible via East Cottage Street.

The site is a short walk from the JFK/UMass T station, on a stretch of Dorchester Avenue with other markets and restaurants where “there’s this vibrancy that we’d like to maintain with the project,” Kevin Deabler of RODE Architects said in September.

Sarbaugh purchased the 951-959A Dorchester Ave. parcel for $3 million on Aug. 1, 2017, according to the Suffolk Registry of Deeds. The 11,580-square foot, or just over a quarter-acre, lot includes the market, Tom English’s, and the land in between currently used for parking.

Sarbaugh expects the Dorchester Market store to occupy part of the new commercial space. Longtime operator Peter McGee would continue to run the market, he said.

The development team envisions the building as a new anchor at the corner, with a setback area around the market front to allow for outdoor seating.

After feedback from local civic leaders and neighbors, Sarbaugh’s team tweaked their designs last fall. RODE Architects’ latest rendering now features a single building with underground parking that would be four stories along the Dorchester Avenue and East Cottage Street intersection, rising to five at its peak, and then down to four or three stories as it meets neighboring buildings. It sports a rounded front, rather than the sharp-edged prior versions, recalling the Sugar Bowl building farther up Dorchester Avenue.

Sarbaugh’s team has worked in consultation with the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association planning committee since June 2017. Committee members liked the concept – keeping the long-time market and McGee on the first floor, along with a restaurant – but said that density was an issue.

With the one-way East Cottage Street connecting to the oft-jammed Dorchester Avenue, meeting attendees have consistently expressed concern about possible impacts on the two roads.

At that November meeting, developers brought their proposal down from 40 units to 38, from six stories to five, and said there could be room for up to 28 parking spaces.

“I appreciate coming down on the height,” said planning chair Eileen Fenton in November. “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 [adequate] parking is a recipe for disaster.”

The unit and story counts are unchanged in this week’s filings, though the parking spaces are counted at 26.

According to the zoning review documents, the project will require variances for the number of units for the amount of land, number of parking spaces, proximity to the edge of the parcel, and maximum building height.

In an email to the Association’s planning committee chair, Sarbaugh said he would reach out to the civic group and flyer the abutting community once the project has a set Zoning Board Of Appeals date.

An abutters meeting facilitated by the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services is planned for Sat., Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. in the Kit Clark Apartments at 915 Dorchester Ave.