The Coolidge Corner Study Committee recommends Town Meeting approval of a new Waldo Durgin Overlay Zoning District for a portion of Coolidge Corner. The CCSC considers this district of unique civic significance as a highly visible location in Coolidge Corner, the commercial heart of Brookline.
The proposed Waldo Durgin Overlay Zoning District includes three contiguous tax parcels including 8-10 Waldo Street, 10-18 Pleasant Street, and 16 John Street. Collectively these parcels total approximately 1.3 acres. All three parcels in the overlay district are owned by Chestnut Hill Realty entities. These parcels now include the underutilized Waldo and Durgin garage structures and a surface parking lot used primarily by adjacent condominium owners.
CHR has proposed two alternative redevelopment programs for the site - 1. a residential building comprising 299 units filed as a Comprehensive Permit under MGL Chapter 40B regulations, and 2. a mixed-use project including a hotel with 210 rooms and a residential building with 143 units and ground floor commercial space. Both proposed projects
comprise a total of approximately 350,000 square feet. A comprehensive permit public hearing process is currently active for the 40B proposal with the Brookline Zoning Board of Appeals. The proposed mixed-use plan would include multi-family residential and hotel buildings at a scale not presently permitted under existing zoning, consequently, this redevelopment option will require adoption of zoning amendments.
The proposed zoning is supplemented by a set of Design Guidelines, a Memorandum of Agreement, and Tax Certainty Agreement. The MOA defines and references the mixed-use development project including preliminary site plans and building floor plans, including an underground parking garage. Through the MOA, CHR has committed to pedestrian, bicycle, and traffic mitigation, public realm improvements on and off-site, sustainable design elements, and unique provisions to meet affordable housing requirements.
The mixed-use project would require Special Permits from the ZBA and Site Plan Review by the Planning Board. It would be deemed a Major Impact Project subject to review by a Design Advisory Team appointed by the Planning Board.
The CCSC believes the mixed-use development program provides the Town several advantages over the 40B alternative including the following
- Substantially greater local control over the design of the site plan and buildings.
- Significantly more extensive public realm im provements, including landscape upgrades at the Coolidge Corner Library and conversion of the 14-space municipal parking lot at John & Green Streets to a park.
- Ability to require active ground level, publicly accessible cafe, restaurant, or retail in the residential building. Further the MOA stipulates that if this space is vacant for more than a year, CHR will offer it to the Town to use.
- Ability to require on-going conditions after the project is constructed, including annual Transportation Demand Management reports for the hotel, parking and operations management.
- Flexible provisions to encourage retrofitting portions of the underground parking garage for other uses should future demand justify fewer spaces.
- Superior environmentally sustainable design including the developers commitment to meet LEED v4 certifiable standards and Energy Use Intensity targets that exceed stretch building codes.
- Significantly higher tax revenue from both property tax, including a portion at higher commercial rates, and the room occupancy excise tax from the hotel, in total annual tax revenues are estimated to exceed the 40B option by $1.65 million in the initial year of stabilized occupancy.
- Lower demand for schools and other municipal services as the mixed-use option would have less than half of the residential units proposed in the 40B.
- Use of meeting space in the hotel by the Town and Brookline community non-profit groups at a nominal custodial fee.
The CCSC acknowledges that the 40B option would provide more Affordable Housing units in the near term than the mixed-use proposal both in total and in units counted on the Towns Subsidized Housing Inventory. To address this concern the Committee worked with CHR and the Housing Advisory Board on an agreement that would provide a lump sum payment to the Housing Trust Fund of 3.275 million from CHR in lieu of ten Affordable units provided on site. It is anticipated that the HAB will be able to leverage these funds in concert with mission based non-profit housing developers to create significantly more Affordable units than the ten not provided on site. This payment is in addition to the 11 affordable, at 80 percent Area Median Income, provided on-site.