SAND has filed the following comments with the Inspectional Services Department regarding the proposed conversion of an industrial building to residential units in the Fort Point neighborhood of South Boston. The project as proposed requires relief from zoning, as the turn-of-the century building was constructed and is presently zoned for manufacturing uses.

City of Boston
Inspectional Services Department
1010 Massachusetts Avenue 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
Application for Zoning Relief
Fort Point Place (Ward 6)
11-27 Wormwood/12-30 Binford Street
and 33-41 Wormwood Street/32-52 Binford Street
South Boston, MA
Beacon Capital
1 Federal Street
Boston, MA 02108
Dear Commissioner:
The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND) is a community group based in the Fort Point neighborhood of South Boston. Our members, including many Boston-area residents and business owners, have advocated for zoning which would encourage the emergence of a mixed-use neighborhood in the Fort Point area and western section of the South Boston waterfront - including a significant residential component. A chronicle of our work on behalf of our members is well documented on the SAND website at
Members of the SAND's core group have met with representatives of the proposed Fort Point Place project on three occasions over the past few months. We have discussed our concerns regarding this project with the development team and have made progress in achieving resolution of a number of these concerns.
For the following reasons, we support all of the required zoning variances.
  • The project offers an opportunity for the Fort Point area to grow as a residential neighborhood, as envisioned in the BRA Public Realm Plan.
  • The project includes an affordability component, enabling a mix of income levels to participate.
  • The project attempts to recognize and amplify the character of the existing community - the largest enclave of artists and creative professionals in New England.
  • The proposed renovations respect the historic integrity of the structure, interiors, exteriors and neighboring turn-of-the-century industrial buildings.
  • The proposed modern infill is architecturally interesting, designed to complement and accent the project's historic elements.
  • The proponent has expressed a strong interest in working towards the creation of a public park adjacent to this property along Wormwood Street, in an area delineated as park frontage in the BRA Public Realm Plan.
Although we are supportive of this project and the approval of zoning variances as requested, we have a few comments that warrant consideration. These are:
Retail and Parking
Proposed retail spaces on the first floor are quite small, with four retail units totaling 2000 square feet. We have suggested that the proponent reduce the number of required parking spaces (perhaps eliminating deeded parking from two affordable units) in an attempt to enlarge the retail units. Although we understand the demand for parking, we believe that an urban residential project - especially one well-served by public transportation, should not be required to provide one parking space for each unit.
Over the past month, the proponent has improved the flow of vehicles entering and exiting the building by concentrating most traffic activity on Binford Street and to the rear of the building, away from Wormood Street and 249 A Street. Although this is acceptable to SAND, we would prefer all entrances and exits to be moved to Binford Street and the rear of the facility, eliminating the need for curb cuts on Wormwood Street as pedestrians approach the main entrance to the building.
Affordable Units
Affordable component should have floorspace and location to be determined in proportion to market-rate units.
Existing Community
We commend this proponent in working with SAND and the Fort Point Arts Community (FPAC) to understand the needs of the existing neighborhood. The Fort Point area has been inhabited for two decades by visual artists who have worked diligently to improve the area and contribute to the cultural livelihood of the entire City of Boston. These artists are rarely represented in political discussions regarding future growth of the South Boston waterfront, with hundreds of individuals holding leases through the Boston Wharf Company which expire in 2-3 years. Recognizing the creative community as an important asset to the City, we at SAND support the proponent's efforts to secure housing opportunities for area artists.
Open Space
Because recreational open space in the entire Fort Point neighborhood is lacking, we have asked the proponent of this project to participate in discussions regarding the creation of a Fort Point Park as envisioned in the BRA Public Realm Plan, adjacent to this project on Wormwood Street. As mentioned earlier, the representatives of this project have expressed a strong interest in working together to achieve this open space. Although we support a zoning variance regarding the open space requirement of this project, we expect a continued commitment from this developer towards the creation of Fort Point Park.
In conclusion, our community group supports the approval of variances required by this proponent. We expect that our concerns will be addressed and look forward to welcoming Fort Point Place to the neighborhood.
Steve Hollinger
on behalf of:
The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND)
cc: file/website/public

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