Plans to build a 20-unit residential building on what is now a parking lot on near Cleveland Circle faced resistance from neighbors as it was presented to the Planning Board on Thursday night.
The plan calls for the construction of a new four-story residential building on a parking lot behind a medical office building at 1842 Beacon St., which would have to be subdivided from the lot.
As presented, the project would need relief from town zoning laws due to a lack of usable open space. Jeffrey Allen, an attorney and former Brookline selectman, appeared before the board on behalf of the developer, Boston Development Group.
Both Allen and members of the board agreed that a building "on stilts" – one exposing the skeletal structure of the covered parking lot – would be a mistake and that a "wall" obscuring the parking facilities from view would be crucial to the success of the plan.
Allen said the developer had initially considered constructing a roof deck on top of the building in order to meet zoning codes governing outdoor spaces, but then decided that a deck may cause disruption of the surrounding neighborhood and that it would be more feasible to seek relief from the town.
The parking facility will provide 85 spaces on two levels, one at ground level and one below. The ground level lot was the subject of much debate, with neighbors expressing concerns over the aesthetics and functionality of the area.
Allen pointed out that an aerial photos used to display the construction site showed a barely populated parking lot on the day the picture was taken and called zoning requirements for parking spaces at medical buildings "onerous to say the least."
The new plan meets parking requirements, but includes 17 dual-use spaces, according to Allen.
Another hot topic of discussion was the potential for shadows from the new building to fall on existing buildings, streets and yards. Project architect Eric Robinson of RODE Architects Inc. presented several computer models displaying various lighting conditions and the shadows the new building would create.
"This building will be the subject of shadows, not the creator of shadows," Allen said.
The ground level of the parking facility will recreate 41 of the parking spaces including on the present lot and the below ground level will provide 44 spots for the new residential units above. Patients and visitors to the Beacon Street medical building will have access via a walkway from the new lots existing building.
The owner of a building directly across the street from the lot on Englewood Avenue said that he has watched the area develop over the years and that flooding is a problem in every building there. The man said that he hopes to use the opportunity presented by the new building's possible construction to help improve the water conditions of the surrounding buildings.
Allen said that the building would not contribute to the flooding and that he and his development team will try to improve on the problem.
Mark Schmidt and his wife, residents of 1850 Beacon St., expressed concerns over the distance between the back windows of his building and the new construction.
"It's very, very close to our building," Schmidt said.
A neighborhood meeting was held last month to introduce residents of the area to the developer's plans.