Letter to the Editor: GrandMarc: big, but not so grand

In response to The News article, “Proposed 34-story dorm to tower behind YMCA” (June 20), Symphony United Neighbors and the Gainsborough Neighborhood Association, representing more than 300 homeowners – which comprise of Northeastern’s immediate neighbors in the East Fenway – would like to comment further on the GrandMarc at St. Botolph Street project.

We are concerned that such a project would contribute to an unsustainable density in a neighborhood that already has the highest student population in the city of Boston. We worked closely and successfully to achieve balanced dorm siting with Northeastern, elected officials and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. This project undermines everything we have achieved. It appears to conflict with Northeastern’s own master plan for an additional 1,800 beds on that very block, a plan that took two years to develop in conjunction with the community.

The article quotes the developer as saying that the project will bring “much needed student housing in an area unpopulated by permanent neighborhood residents.” We object to that statement, as we are the long-time residents of this vibrant, urban neighborhood. We are looking at almost 3,000 additional living areas in a one-block area on a dead-end street two blocks from our homes.

We share the concern expressed by the interim president of NU’s Student Government Association, Michael Paradiso. He was cited in the Boston Globe article, “Student high-rise proposed near NU” (City ‘ Region, June 21), saying that students themselves might be uneasy with the idea of private residence halls, since such facilities are not operated by the university. Furthermore, federal housing regulations would require GrandMarc, as a private development, to rent to anyone who applies, not just students.

A larger and more concentrated student population would also overload foot and vehicular traffic, trash, noise, city services, parking and neighborhood businesses. Furthermore, for this historic residential neighborhood, the Zoning Board only three years ago, recognized 90 feet as the height limit. This project, at 345 feet, is almost four times higher than permitted. Approval of this development would make a mockery of the zoning process itself.

For these and other reasons, we strongly oppose this project.

– Jeffrey Brody is the president, Gainsborough Neighborhood Association. Barbara Brooks Simons is president of Symphony United Neighbors.

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