Proposed condos, business, 1021-25 Mass. Ave., 2022Proposed condos and retail space at 1021-1025 Mass. Ave. / Harrison Mulhern Architects

When the hearing for the project proposed for 1021-1025 Mass. Ave. was held March 23 to allow the public to express its views, just one speaker addressed the Arlington Zoning Board of Appeals.

Zoning Board of Appeals logo

Steve Moore asked about the tree situation along the street, and a company representative responded as an estimated 20 people were present at the online session.

At the latest session of the virtual hearing for a comprehensive permit, which has been ongoing since December, the applicant presented a few minor changes to the plan, the sustainability report and addressed the historical status of the properties involved. 

Present were all members of the ZBA board, including new member Adam LeBlanc, who was inducted into the board at a recent Select Board meeting.

ZBA attorney Paul Haverty and engineering consultant Sean Reardon were there. The applicant, Matthew Maggiore of Maggiore Companies, was not present, but speaking on his behalf were Jackie and Paul Maggiore, attorney Paul Feldman and architect Chris Mulhern. 

Sustainability report

Mulhern presented the sustainability report and spoke about issues including public-accessible transportation, EV charging ports in the garage and the Energy Star-rated appliances in the all-electric building. Planned are electric charging stations for 11 cars, but that number can be increased. While the building is electric, a gas generator has to be put on the fifth floor to keep the elevator operational for two hours after any possible future power shutoff. The building is designed to be compliant with the Massachusetts Stretch Code, a building regulation beginning in 2008 that is updated every three years to ensure that new buildings are energy-efficient. 

Stormwater will be treated on site and will be monitored so that residents can be mindful of their water use. The raised plaza on the second floor will have outdoor green space to help reduce any heat-island impacts; the white reflective roof is designed to do the same. There will be no uplighting; all inside lights will be LED. 

Mulhern said the company would do its best in terms of recycling construction materials and sourcing products locally. He described the project as “solar ready,” with ample space for solar panels on the roof that could generate solar energy in the future. “We are expecting this to be a very efficient project with excellent systems to minimize energy use,” Mulhern said. 

Building changes, historic issues

Next, Mulhern reviewed the updated changes to the building. There will be an additional egress on the second floor, the roof has a generator, and there have been some minor grading and elevation changes. 

Charles Tirone, vice chair of the Arlington Conservation Commission, updated the board and attendees about its schedule. A site visit was set for Monday, March 27; the commission's next meeting is scheduled for April 13. Tirone asked about the fence near the Mill Brook and whether or not animals will be able to cross; Feldman assured him that there will be a gap in the fence for wildlife. 

ZBA Chairman Christian Klein addressed the issue of the historic status of the building. The proposed project would replace what is now there at 1021 and at 1025 Mass. Ave.; Klein said that while 1025 is not considered historic, 1021 is. A demolition permit was requested from the historic districts commission in 2021; it was originally on the docket for the Sept. 7 meeting, then that item was postponed until October of that year, but the hearing did not resume then, or later. Because the demolition delay elapsed, none is in effect, Klein said.

Feldman concurred with Klein and said the applicant is investigating whether and why the 1021 building is historic.

Klein noted that in the 1800s, the Owens family had a funeral home there -- which, Klein said, is not enough to make it historic. 

“I don't want anyone to feel like we are wiping out an important piece of history, either architecturally or in terms of the occupants, because in looking at it, that's not the case,” Feldman said. “I think people can feel comfortable that there really isn't any historical significance other than it happened to be built in the late 1800s.”

Seeking feedback, tree query

Board member Patrick Hanlon questioned Feldman’s findings, said he was “a little bit uncomfortable” about moving forward without feedback from the historic districts commission and wants to give that body an opportunity to present its view in a statement. Klein said he would reach out.

Feldman said that the ZBA does not have the power to say whether or not the extant building may be demolished and instead could only delay the demolition. 

Moore inquired about the tree situation along the street, and Mulhern replied that there are currently five trees, and that according to their landscape architect, they are “maxed out” on room. The trees will be watered using a drip system. 

Feldman provided an update about the agreement with the Mill Brook Condominium Association. The conservation commission had asked the applicant to do some mitigation along the brook on the other side of the property, which would benefit everyone. The group has negotiated an access agreement with the association but not has not yet confirmed it. 

Feldman then discussed the board’s conditions for the applicant. He said he had accepted many of them, yet said that liability issues prevent open public-park access. Additionally, no play area for children is planned, because the applicant is not expecting many children to live in the building.

Finally, waivers were discussed. One waiver for uplighting was discarded because the building now no longer has uplighting. The rest of the waivers have to do with wetlands protection, zoning laws and the historical commission. 

The hearing is set to continue to Monday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. 

Feb. 28, 2023: Construction-management plan presented for Brattle Square project

This news summary by YourArlington intern Renée Abbott was published Tuesday, March 28, 2023.