By Harry Kane
Last Wednesday, Sept. 4, the Somerville Zoning Board of Appeals approved a request for a special permit to construct a seven-unit residential building at 97 Prospect St.
The new dwelling will include several amenities such as an elevator, underground parking garage and rooftop deck. Three top floor units will have access to individual rooftop areas, while the other units will have access to either a balcony, deck, backyard, or some combination of each.
Developer Alan Peterson believes the contemporary building will be a nice addition to the community. “Having more residential housing in this neighborhood will accommodate people,” he said. The property is a quarter of a mile south of Union Square, near Cambridge.
The 9600-square-foot parcel had, up until 2012, been a used car storage lot.
The new building will contain an underground parking lot with seven resident spaces, and an eighth visitor parking space. Normally, fourteen spaces would be required by law, according to the zoning ordinance: thirteen allotted for residential parking and one required visitor’s space. “They sought relief from six of those spaces,” City Planner Melissa Woods said regarding the variance for those parking spaces.
Daniel Spinosa attended the meeting on behalf of his daughter, Jennifer Spinosa, who lives at 14 Oak St. and is a direct abutter. He says he has concerns about parking in the neighborhood. “I think it’s a little tight to be honest with you. I really do,” he said.
The elder Spinosa said he was “kinda bewildered” that the Zoning Board of Appeals would allow a variance for 6 parking spaces.
“If every homeowner has two cars there’s already a problem,” Spinosa said. “In addition to that, every homeowner gets two visitor passes, so I mean there’s just no room, and the closest street is my daughter’s street.”
Spinosa owns two pieces of property on Springfield Street, a few streets away from the new development. “There’s UPS and FedEx all day long. These trucks that come and service that house are going to have to park on Prospect Street where there isn’t any parking. It’s already jammed – people going to and from Union.”
Herbert Foster, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, replied to Spinosa’s concern. “I understand what the abutter’s father was talking about with parking,” he said. “I think with the addition of the Green Line…it does it for me.”
The new housing units are within 500-feet of three bus lines, 1.1 miles of four T stations, and a quarter mile from another four bus lines, according to a Somerville study. The study determined that 338 on-street parking spaces are within in a five minute walk of the development, and some 30 percent of those spaces are vacant during weeknight and weekend afternoons.
Architect Hank Reisen said, “The goal is to put the foundation in the ground before the snow flies.” He’s hoping the project will be completed by next spring or summer but thinks it will take at least 9 months to build.