By Richard Campbell

Perhaps the surest sign of the coming rehabilitation of the neighborhood surrounding Old Colony is the plan for a new five story residential building with retail space on the site of Bell’s Market. The project designers Stefanov Architects have teamed up with developer Rashide, LLC, to put together a comprehensive proposal to the Boston Development Planning Association (BDPA).

The proposal submitted in late 2017 is for new five-story 32 new residential rental apartments that are primarily market rate, with 5 affordable units and will include 23 below level parking spaces. It will have about 7,000 sq. feet of retail space- which will include a new Bell’s Market, on the 9th street side and a café on the 8th street side. Other amenities like indoor bike parking, elevators to all floors, and street scape landscaping are mentioned in the proposal. The small project expects to create 40 construction jobs, besides the employment of the developers and architects. People may be familiar with Stafanov Architects for their multiple projects in South Boston.

In keeping the familiar Bell’s Market, the architects wisely planned a setting in which the apartments don’t go too high above street level. It would be nice to see permanent awnings, some less than industrial shape to the exterior, and the use of some natural stone or brick to give the feeling of solidity and texture to the exterior.  Similarly, there isn’t too much indication of the landscaping treatments to give the surrounding area more of a neighborhood feeling. We are awaiting full plans.  This was a natural outgrowth after the high-end condominium project at St. Augustine’s, a property that many said couldn’t be restored for community use, ended up being restored beautifully.

In addition to this project, the BPDA approved 200-204 Old Colony Avenue, mixed use housing and educational project submitted by All Saints Development, on the space currently occupied by Notre Dame Academy, which includes replacement of the existing school. The proposal includes up to 54 residential apartment units on floors 2-6, replacement of the existing on-site school uses approximately 9,380 gross square feet on the 1st floor, and approximately 39 below-level garage parking spaces.  The designs will be done by EMBARC Architecture + Design Studio of South Boston, and VERDANT Landscape Architecture, of Brookline.  The innovative L-shaped building is expected to meet high LEED standards, and include various textured surfaces on its exterior, bridging the design’s hybrid use as both a school and residences.  In keeping with the Mayor’s promise to continue to build more housing in Boston, the BPDA approved 870 residential units at their July 13th meeting.  In quoting the BPDA site: “Since the start of 2018, 2,908 new housing units have been approved, with 585 affordable units for low or middle-income residents.”  Stay tuned for more details on South Boston housing developments.