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City poised to approve Brighton development

Boston regulators are poised to approve a sweeping redevelopment of Brighton’s former Circle Cinema and surrounding property into an $85 million complex of hotel rooms, residences, and stores.

The project would result in construction of a six-story building containing a Hilton Garden Inn, more than 90 apartments, 188 parking spaces, and multiple restaurants. The Boston Redevelopment Authority is expected to vote on the project at a meeting Thursday.

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The project’s developer, Boston Development Group of Newton, has significantly changed plans for the complex during a years-long community review process. The firm has removed space for medical offices, increased the number of residences, and cut the total hotel rooms from 196 to 162.

Some neighbors have continued to object to the project, saying it contains too many residences for the size of the property and would compound traffic and parking problems. Mary Cronin, a member of a community panel appointed to review the project, has also pressed the BRA to include restrictions preventing the developer from renting the residences to college students.

The project site is adjacent to Boston College, where neighbors have complained about students overcrowding houses and creating disturbances. “Cleveland Circle has a lot of problems with the existing density of students in the neighborhood,” Cronin said. “There have been noise and rowdiness issues continually.”

The BRA official leading a review of the project said there did not appear to be widespread support among neighbors for the student restriction. Erico Lopez also said the issue did not come up until the end of the project’s review process.

“There wasn’t community consensus with regard to that issue,” Lopez said.

Executives with Boston Development Group did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Several neighbors have also offered support for the development, which would bring new life to the Circle Cinema site. The theater closed in 2008, and Boston Development Group filed plans in March 2012 to redevelop that property and the adjacent Applebee’s restaurant.

Both structures would be razed to make way for a C-shaped building along Chestnut Hill Avenue. Designed by the architecture firm ADD Inc., the six-story building would have restaurants on the ground floor along with a courtyard and space for outdoor dining. The 188 parking spaces would be spread between a surface lot and an underground garage.

Most of the residences would be one- and two-bedroom units, with a small number of three-bedrooms. Eleven apartments would be designated affordable to comply with city regulations requiring that new projects include units for moderate- to low-income residents.

Sharon Cayley, another member of the community panel reviewing the project, said she wants the site redeveloped but remains concerned about the density of the residences, the possibility of student tenants, and additional traffic generated by the hotel and restaurants.

“We are making careful arguments as to why we need to make these changes, and it doesn’t feel like the developer is giving us much credibility,” Cayley said. “Every time we ask for a change, they move a quarter of an inch.”

Other community members have said Boston Development Group altered the project to address their concerns on traffic and effects on neighboring Cassidy Park. “We are pleased by the developer’s long-term commitment and planned investment in our community,” Anabela Gomes, president of the Brighton Allston Improvement Association, wrote in a letter to the BRA.

If the project is approved Thursday, Boston Development Group would still need to get final sign-off from the city on its designs and building plans. It is unclear when the firm would start construction.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.
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