83 75CourtSt GSV | Newton MA News and Politics Blog

Someone asked about Court Street on the Philip Neri thread. It hasn’t gotten much publicity lately, but tonight at 7pm in the Aldermanic Chambers, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) continues the public hearing, and may in fact vote on whether to grant the Comprehensive Permit for a 36-unit condominium 40B at 75-83 Court Street, which you may recall V14 covered here. The lovely mauve house and the white house next door, both multi-family, would be torn town.

Despite the appeals of nearby residents to reduce the number of units, it’s still 36 (of which only 9 would be officially “affordable” and count toward the Subsized Housing Inventory 10% goal). The Planning Department and ZBA seem to have been little more than speed bumps to the project.

Why should this concern the rest of the city? In this case, the developer, SEB, acquired two deep, adjacent lots for a total of 52,616 sq.ft. They claim they need to build 36 units for the project to be profitable enough, but have not been required to prove this by an independent audit. By that logic — “I need to build x number of units for this project to be viable” — it’s open season on any residential street, particularly where large lots exist, or where adjacent lots can be combined.

Consider that the Court Street development would amount to 1 unit of housing (and at least one parking space) per 1,462 sq.ft. of land area. The Philip Neri in Waban is 69,050 sq ft of land, so it’s not surprising the developer is asking to do 48 units, with 1,439 sq.ft. of land per unit, about the same as Court Street). The Philip Neri property sold for $3.95 million in January. This is probably more than SEB paid for the Court Street properties (no recent selling prices available, but total FY14 assessed value is $1.84 million), so maybe the Philip Neri developer will insist on bigger units.

The recently demolished house at 35 Temple Street at the corner of Putnam on West Newton Hill was on a 30,258 sq.ft. lot. If the developer hadn’t gotten 35TempleBeforeTeardown | Newton MA News and Politics BlogHistorical Commssion approval to demolish what was a beautiful house, and then permission to divide the lot into two buildable lots, he could very well have “gone 40B” and done quite well. At 1,462 sq.ft. of land area per unit, that could support a 20-unit apartment or condo building! Unless of course, the developer “had to” do a greater number in order to make it viable.