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Proposed East Boston apartment building would come with a bike-repair shop

135 Bremen St. rendering

Architect's rendering.

The BRA board on Thursday considers a developer's plan to tear down a fenced-off, abandoned old commercial area at 135 Bremen St. and replace them with 94 apartments on six floors, space for a restaurant or shop and 126 parking spaces in an underground garage.

Developers Joseph Ricupero and Michael Merullo say they would set aside space in the garage for both 100 bicycles and a bicycle-repair shop to accommodate "East Boston's growing population of bicycle users along the [East Boston] Greenway path."

The developers add: "This would include a 24-hour seven-day a week free air station."

The proposed units would consist of 54 two-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom/plus den units, and 5 three-bedroom units.

Some of the parking spaces would be set aside for electric vehicles and micro-cars.

The Proposed Project is unique to the community because it provides such a high number of private parking spaces for residents, and is within walking distance to two MBTA stations, which will minimize community impact from resident/patron parking spillover onto local streets.

If the board approves the project, it will also need to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals. The developers will also need permission from the MBTA because the project would sit atop the Blue Line tunnel.

Ricupero and Merullo hope to break ground in fall, 2015 and estimate construction would take a year.

The BRA board's review of projects begins at 5:30 p.m. in its ninth-floor hearing room in City Hall.

More project details.

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Comments

This is a great urban project and exactly what the city needs more of in the outlying neighborhoods of Boston. Unfortunately East Boston lacks good pedestrian and bicycle access to downtown. That needs to change somehow!

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"This would include a 24-hour seven-day a week free air station."

AKA they'll chain a $10 bike pump to the wall and not replace it once it breaks in a few weeks.

That rendering looks horrible. It's not that the building is so ugly (it is) but the way it's rendered makes it look like the place was just gutted and is about to torn down. Between that and the empty street filled with potholes at first it seemed like a photo of the building they were planning to replace to build something new.

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Totally agree. Plus it's at least double the height of all the other houses, provides no open space and will wall off the greenway. Too big, too many apartments, and too ugly. The BRA should be ashamed if they approve this.

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What would you rather see there Anthony?
Your argument is that the wall will place a shadow on a small portion of the greenway! That's ridiculous..
It's not owned by massport or the city, If the land is privately owned, owner can build what the city allows him to, height restrictions etc. If the developer for 156 porter street got the green light to convert an old factory into something new, Why can't rhis developer do the same, especially on a empty large parcel of land ! It also increases the neighborhoods tax base, the more condo units in East Boston the more tax dollars foe the city of boston.Also this new development (if they are condos) will increase property values throughout that immediate neighborhood.

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Why do you care that it's double the height? Six stories is not very high and Boston needs to get away from suburban standards and remember that it is a city.

Why does it need to provide open space? It is literally acros the street from the East Boston Memorial Park and a block from the Paris Street playground. Open space is wasted space, which pushes the price up. It won't wall off the Greenway. There's already a building there. Building more housing is important than ineffecient and unnecesarry suburban standards. If you don't like it, don't live there, but don't impose your aesthetics on everybody.

It's also not very ugly, it's just samey. This could be literally any new building anywhere in the country. It's uninspired. Also, it has way too much parking. It should have none.

I hope the BRA approves this.

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But the real issue I'd take with it is the quality of the face it actually presents to pedestrians--the whole first floor looks so blank and uninviting, not a place you'd be psyched to walk next to. There's no sense of "street life" or integration into an existing neighborhood--nice once you're inside I'm sure but...This is my biggest quibble with a lot of new buildings--it's like they're designed to be plunked down anywhere to serve the residents inside, with no relation to where they are.

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That would be my main criticism as well: In addition to the fact that it has too much parking for something within easy walking distance of the blue line, the ground floor (at least in the pictures) seems to be completely lacking in store front retail space.

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most BRA medium density projects this one is scheduled for street level retail. The render doesn't do it justice, but there will be business along the street fronting.

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Maybe we're just seeing the back end? It just doesn't look retail-y or restaurant-y. Maybe they do just need a better rendering or some tweaks.

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Scary as it is, that's the front end on Bremen St/Porter St- the back end overlooks the greenway. This is a rend of the building pre-completion - no idea why they've released this as the public face of the project. Right now I'd assume the relative dullness is just a symptom of a poor render. It also doesn't help that the 1A viaduct is literally your next neighbor.

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Boston fire dept. always has it's final say on any structure that's being developed in Boston. I see some telephone /utility wires hanging from poles in the front of the building, an obsticle right their, also the steep hill on the porter street side, will a fire truck be able to anchor a Boston Fire tower truck and lift the aerial ladder up with ease. Will their be enough frontage in the rear of building.

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my guess is that they are tapping into the "loft" industrial aesthetic in eastie: not a bad approach but not executed that well: hopefully the design ain't done; the BRA should demand a better images for our viewing pleasure

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As far as I can tell those are going to be semi-affordable apartments, not a luxury shitbox for a bunch of trustfunders. I'm sure plenty of people would rather live in an ugly building they can afford than not live in a pretty building they cannot afford.

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East Boston needs more new developments like this, I'm extremely glad that this lot will be developed, the rendering looks great.
That area is already vibrant with the park, once this project and the new boutique hotel behind it are both complete in a few years , it will transform that entire area.

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It amazes me the hoops developers have to jump through to get something built in the city. I'm not saying the bikes are gimmicks, but if you think a developer will care about a bike rack, an air station or any other public convenience once the units have been sold you're fooling yourself. Once the units are sold, The condo board will come to the conclusion that only a handful of people are using the facilities, and stop paying the maintenance.

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(a) not condos, apartments, so condo board won't play a role unless they convert.

(b) when I was buying my condo last year in Boston, nearly every property manager showed me their bike racks without me asking, and they were all overfilled and evoked the property manager commenting they were looking for more space in the building to fit more bike racks.

The tides might change in 10 years, but most condo associations are currently trying to figure out how to fit more bikes in their properties, not abandon their facilities.

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Once the price hits a certain point.

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....that's actually way, way better than most apartment buildings. Provided it's well designed and there's a security camera, that's actually a seriously useful benefit.

Free air is kinda meh. Certainly handy, especially given how many new folks don't bother to get a pump for a while...but like a water fountain, not really worth bragging about.

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I'm with you on the gimmicks that are all too prevalent in modern builds - from gyms, yoga studios, bocce ball courts, dog car centers, etc... the point of living in a city is to be close to necessary amenities, loading up these new apartments/condos with amenities is a sly way of suburbanizing an urban space. However, in this case, an air station and bike repair tools are pretty useful features and not the normal amenity fluff.

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Too bad you can barely bike anywhere useful from East Boston

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First of all: its good to see new development!

However, I think we will look back at parking spillover arguments someday and shake our heads. This will probably have a predictable outcome.

Lets see if it pays off for them, Cotton.

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So what I don't understand is that... if its walk able to two MBTA stations along with bike rack, why does it need so many parking spots?!? 126 parking spots for 54 units?! Thats two per unit!

As writers/readers here can attest, I am no pro-bike person, but I am pro-public transit, but 126 spots for 54 units seems... excessive considering how bike and T friendly this place is.

PS - I agree, it's ugly. Its like every other g-d complex being built

PPS - Not one peep on here about the demolition on Meridian Street near Shaw's. Looks like it was an old theatre at one point. Kinda sad, looked so pretty inside, minus the brown paint all over everything, as you can now see the inside of the theatre with what has been torn down so far.

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If the parking is within the foot print of the building I see no issue with how many parking spaces they create. Its not like they are taking up any more land than what the building is using.

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That was the Seville Theater. One of the old, ornate ones. I used to go there in the 60s as a child. It actually stayed in operation until the late 70s or so, but by then I think it just showed old Italian movies on weekends or something, when East Boston had an Italian population. I'm surprised that theater or building was never put to some other creative use. Such a waste.

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Will it be a requirement that renters sign an agreement not to own or drive a car? Oh right, there will be plenty of parking spaces for cars. This while bike amenity stuff is a gimmick which will never come to fruition. It's merely a thinly veiled attempt to garner support for an expensive ugly building from the trustfund hipster bike community... who all own trendy cars in secret.

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and, to my knowledge, there isn't one in Eastie, nor in neighboring Revere or Chelsea or Everett. Glad to see one is coming.

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A bike shop , seriously?? A bike shop should be in someones garage, that's my idea of a bike shop in East Boston. I'd rather see a high end Restaurant instead of a bike shop..

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Its eastie.. not BackBay

Isn't Taco Mania or Eddie C's good enough for you?

/s

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Maybe you don't know, but there is a bike shop in Back Bay... corner of Comm. Ave. and Mass. Ave.
It seems pretty busy. Sorry to burst your anti-Back Bay bubble.

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What?

Or is this yet another anon sequitur?

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The "eastie, not Back Bay" comment refers to the appropriateness of an upscale restaurant in Eastie, not to the appropriateness of a bike shop in Back Bay.

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Eastie is not quite like the Back bay, Need to keep the newly arrived yuppies content when they mention Bike shop ! Let's wind the clock back to the 1970s in East Boston, does anyone here remember having a bike shop in Eastie,(I did'nt think so) back then the nearest bike shop from Eastie would have been somewhere along Route 2 in Arlington, or Concord. Back then in Eastie people borrowed bikes from one another, and if the chain broke on the bike, there would always be someone mechanically inclined in the neighborhood who would fix the bike, We did'nt need a bike shop. If there was a bikeshop in Eastie back then, an old Italian grandmother would chase the owner of the bikeshop down the street with a wooden rolling pin in her hands.

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It sounds like this will actually be a self-service repair stand with attached tools, not a staffed bike store.

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Sweet Corn , right around the corner from Santarpio's.......

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I took the time to download the BRA filing. 210 pages that apparently none of you did because all of your complaints and concerns are addressed in it. Highly recommended.

There are 2 levels of garage parking that take advantage of the change in grade from front to back. The document even suggests there will be Zip cars located in the building, so there's that - a bonus for renters and neighbors. There is a central green space/courtyard so it's not one huge monstrosity - I guess it's facing Breman St (actually, visible in that rendering). And they're even going for LEED Platinum - highest number of points available - though there's no guarantee that they'll get all of the points, but they're going for it.

I've only gleaned this from skimming the document, but if any of you have questions, you, too can download it and see the other renderings that were included in the document. They even document how they comply with zoning, something typical for a document of this type.

One of the issues with renderings is that sometimes a smaller architecture firm doesn't have the computing capability to do the pretty pretty renderings that take up a load of RAM. I think what might have brought the other image to life is window dressings. But that would have eaten up a lot of memory. Personally I think the rendering is fine and conveys what it needs to.

And for the person that is concerned about fire access: a road on a hill doesn't present as much of a concern for the FD as you think. I'd be more concerned about access on the back side of the building, not Porter St. But I'm certain the architects have already had preliminary conversations with the FD to ensure they go down the right path at the beginning.

In any event, the project is in schematic design. There's still design development and construction documents to go through, so you can guess that some changes will occur.

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Lived in East Boston for so long, I frequently walk over that overpass on Porter street for many years, and for those who know that area well enough, there are two natural gas lines that are attached underneath that overpass,,one on each side of the street, gas lines that go from Bremen street right underneath the overpass on porter street, and you can always smell the gas as your walking over that overpass, the development will be feet away from the overpass, will that be of any concern.

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Not certain - perhaps the utility should be called if there is a leak.

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Really wracking my brain here, something tells me there was something on Saratoga almost at Central Square, although I may be wrong there, it might have just been a sporting goods store. In any case, Route 2 is way off base, as there WAS a good sized bike shop right before North Gate in Revere. Why do some old timers like to paint Eastie as some kind of urban wasteland that had nothing? If anything, it's more barren now than ever, but, I assume the influx of people who want something more out of life than fast food will help turn the tides.

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94 apartments... jesus, who would want to live in that veal pen?

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I guess they got approved to build the 94 units at 135 Bremen St. I hope that 184 Bremen St (Ice Factory) will be approved next for a multiple condo project. Wait and see.

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