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During Monday’s city council meeting, Councilor Emily Norton took many of her colleagues, city officials and audience members by surprise when she reported that Austin Street Partners — the developer building the mixed use property at 28 Austin Street — had announced at a meeting that they’ve decided not to include a restaurant in their project because the cooking odors would disturb the residents living in the apartment above them.

Among those most surprised by Norton’s announcement (that’s her being quoted in the tweet above) was her Ward 2 colleague Jake Auchincloss, who sits on the Austin Street Liason Committee and promptly said he had heard nothing about it.

Nevertheless, Norton insisted it was true and she doubled up on her assertion via a Twitter the next day, saying she “wouldn’t be surprised” if developer Robert Korf did the same thing across the street at Washington Place.

Knowing that restaurants exist in fine apartment buildings worldwide, Norton’s assertion was frankly puzzling.

So I emailed, Scott Oran with Austin Street Partners and he assured me that his group is actively looking for a restaurant and that the project is being built with all the necessary ventilation, sound proofing, etc. so it would not disturb his tenants.

Here’s full text of a statement from from Austin Street Partners”:

An Official Statement from Austin Street Partners.

 

It has been our practice to remain uninvolved in the tick-tock of local politics but we have been asked to provide some facts regarding the retail space planned for 28 Austin Street, which is currently under construction. Facts remain crucial in today’s political discourse— both nationally and locally.

 

A restaurant with no more than 75 seats is permitted — but not required — by our Special Permit. The size of the restaurant was limited by Councilors concerned about the potential traffic and parking impacts of a larger restaurant. No affirmative commitment was made by Austin Street Partners that 28 Austin Street would include a restaurant. Nor have we said it would not. It is untrue to suggest otherwise.

 

The building has been designed and is being constructed to accommodate a restaurant with chases for proper venting of restaurant cooking and odors and a soundproof concrete slab above the first floor so it’s unlikely a well-designed and properly constructed, soundproofed, and ventilated restaurant would disturb residential tenants above. Restaurants are commonly found below residential tenants in multi-family residential buildings around the country and throughout the world.

 

We are currently seeking tenants for the retail space. No commitments have been made to any tenant and our broker’s list of prospects include many restaurants and other retailers. Names of additional restaurant or retail prospects can be provided to our retail broker, Jeff Arsenault at Avison Young. Mr. Arsenault can be reached at 617.366.1001 or [email protected]

 

Ultimately, the market and Austin Street Partners will determine whether a restaurant is appropriate and included in the retail mix at 28 Austin Street. In the meantime, let’s hope our Councilors stick to the facts and avoid distraction as they debate the important matters before them.

 

Austin Street Partners will have no further comment on restaurants at 28 Austin Street.