The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected a proposal to expand the Arboretum Grill building on Washington Street at Mosgrove Avenue by adding three more floors and 14 apartments, saying that while Washington Street in Roslindale could certainly do with more density, the specific proposal was just too dense.
The 5-2 vote to deny the proposal without prejudice means that owner Ward Jaros can come back in less than a year with a different proposal for the building.
Jaros had proposed adding three floors to the existing commercial building and a four-story addition that would preserve the existing ground-floor retail space for the Arboretum Grill, two salons and an office, but with no parking. "This is as close to transit friendly, we think, as one can get," given the number of bus lines that go by the location, and its location just 0.7 miles from the Forest Hills T stop, Jaros's attorney, Dennis Quilty, said - adding that three of the units would be rented as affordable.
Board members Mark Erlich and Eric Robinson, however, voiced concern about creation of a four-story building in an area with mainly three-story buildings.
Jaros's architect, Matthew Francke, pointed to a proposed four-story building next door, at the intersection with Lesher Street, and with what he said was another four-story building that will soon be formally proposed across the street. Francke did not mention the collection of quadruple-deckers diagonally across Washington Street from the Arboretum Grill.
But board Chairwoman Christine Araujo, after hearing from a neighbor that the next-door project is stalled due to financing issues, said the Jaros proposal would be setting a precedent for that end of Washington Street, and that she was concerned that the design is the sort of ur-boxy design that is homogenizing the look of neighborhoods across the city.
It would be "the start of changing the character of Washington Street in this area," she said.
Nearby residents spoke against the project because its density would be out of character with nearby side streets, and because of its lack of parking. Mark Holman, who said the building would be "completely out of place in the neighborhood," added that its bulk would make it even more difficult for drivers coming off Mosgrove to turn left onto Washington Street - even more so than the "Dorchester left" of creeping into the intersection that they already have to do.
In November, the board rejected a 31-unit apartment building at Washington and Basile streets in Roslindale Square because the proposal had no parking included.
That came several months after the board rejected a 7-unit apartment building on Washington at Bexley Road because it had no parking.