Plan to replace Freeport Tavern with apartments wins approval

Proposed view from across Morrissey Boulevard

Proposed view from across Morrissey Boulevard, by Cube3.

The Zoning Board of Appeal on Tuesday approved a developer's plans to replace the Freeport Tavern on Morrissey Boulevard with 219 apartments - some 110 of them studios.

"That's a very large number of studios," board Chairwoman Christine Araujo said, noting that while studios were all the rage in other Boston neighborhoods three years ago, these days developers in the rest of the city are concentrating on two-bedroom units.

Jay Russo of developer the Michaels Organization, said his company's research showed a market among young professionals for smaller living, that, when combined with a complimentary shuttle bus to the JFK/UMass Red Line station and Logan Airport and a Blue Bikes station should prove quite attractive to that set.

The studios, along with 88 one-bedroom units and 28 two-bedroom units will sit in a building with two wings, one five stories, the other six, with a view on one side towards Dorchester Bay. The building will have 136 parking spaces. The side of the complex facing the Expressway and a planned bike path will have an "art mural wall."

The mayor's office and the office of Councilor Frank Baker supported the proposal. The BPDA board had earlier approved the project.

One person who opposed the project was Maria Lyons, who served on the advisory board the BPDA set up for the project. She said that Dorchester is already cut off form its waterfront by the Southeast Expressway, Morrissey Boulevard and the train tracks and that the zoning board was setting a bad precedent that could lead to a wall of buildings that would just further cut off the neighborhood from its eponymous bay.

Lyons actually spoke after the board voted unanimously to approve the project, due to an apparent snafu with its Webex online conferencing system, in which nobody noticed Lyons had her virtual hand up until she began complaining loudly verbally. However, the board did not change its vote after she did speak.

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