Newton residents have cool reception to apartment plan
A developer’s proposal to replace a closed restaurant with an apartment building in Newton’s Four Corners neighborhood has some residents concerned about the project’s size and potential traffic impact.
Ronald Simons, president of Natick-based Bodwell Pines Corp., has proposed a four-story apartment building with 42 or 43 units for 1114 Beacon St., the former home of the restaurant ApGuJung. The proposed project would demolish the existing one-story building and include parking under the building.
Simons’ 1114 Beacon Street LLC purchased the 1.2-acre property in March from William Douglas’ Lanark Four Corners LLC for $3.65 million, according to filings with the Middlesex Registry of Deeds.
No formal plans have been filed with the city’s Planning Department, Ellen Ishkanian, a city spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. Simons had informal discussions about the proposed project with city planning officials in August and with the Newton Highlands Neighborhood Area Council earlier this month.
Details of the proposed apartment building plan — including a presentation made at the neighborhood council meeting, as well as notes taken by the city’s Planning Department in August — are posted to the city website.
If the developer moves forward with the project, the proposal would require City Council approval for a special permit, Ishkanian said.
But the scope of the proposed apartment building — and the potential for extra traffic — has some residents concerned, said Victoria Danberg, a Ward 6 city councilor at large.
Following the meeting with residents during the neighborhood area council session, Simons is working with his architect on how to reduce the project’s size, Danberg said. Simons also is looking at incorporating a mix of rental and condo units, as well as commercial space, she said.
Simons could not be reached for comment.
Danberg said the city would like to see some business continue on the property. Over the years, several restaurants “have tried and failed to make a go of it” at 1114 Beacon St. Danberg said. The area is home to several businesses, including a Whole Foods supermarket.
“The city always likes to keep its commercial spaces viable and intact, and we as city councilors would welcome a commercial component in that building, and have let the developer know that,” Danberg said in a phone interview.
Nathaniel Lichtin, the president of the neighborhood council, said residents at the meeting worried that there wouldn’t be enough parking included in the project, leading to vehicles parking on surrounding side streets. Those vehicles would add to the heavy rush-hour traffic at the intersection of Beacon and Walnut streets, which forms the heart of Four Corners.
“There is already a lot of traffic going through there, and if you have people impeding that traffic flow by [using] that driveway, that is a very big concern,” Lichtin said in a phone interview.
Lichtin said the apartment building proposal will be an agenda item for discussion at the council’s Dec. 6 meeting.
Danberg and John Rice, a Ward 5 councilor who is an ex-officio member of the neighborhood council, each supported a smaller development on the property.
“I think both the petitioner and the attorneys heard [from] the community that the proposal was too large for that site,” Rice said in a phone interview.