Decade-old 40B proposal for Coolidge Corner back, but smaller
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Decade-old 40B proposal for Coolidge Corner back, but smaller

Decade-old 40B proposal for Coolidge Corner back, but smaller

By Ignacio Laguarda

April 14, 2014

The Danesh Group's rendering of the latest proposed development for 45 Marion St. Photo/Courtesy of Brookline Planning Department

The Danesh Group’s rendering of the latest proposed development for 45 Marion St. Photo/Courtesy of Brookline Planning Department


A permitted 12-story affordable housing development in Coolidge Corner that was discarded a few years ago is back on the table, only this time it’s half the size. The original proposal for 45 Marion St., which was first submitted in 2003, initially called for 88 units and 96 parking spaces. Those numbers were later amended to 68 units and 80 parking spaces.
The development qualified as affordable housing, or a 40B, and was approved in 2010 after three years of litigation, but the developer never followed through with the plans.
Brookline-based The Danesh Group purchased the lot and the existing building permit, and is now looking to move forward with the development, but with some revisions. Their proposal calls for six floors, 65 rental units and 21 parking spaces. Like the original, the new submission would also qualify as an affordable housing development, and the developers have already received a letter from subsidizing agency MassHousing that finds the development eligible for the site. Further, this revised proposal calls for almost all one-bedroom apartments, with only about five two-bedrooms. The 2003 proposal asked for a number of two- and three-bedroom units, and was mostly designed as owner-occupied living spaces.
David Danesh, one of the developers, said the change in plan was designed to not create an added burden to Brookline schools, which are expected to overflow with school-aged children in the coming years, pushing the town to consider overrides next year. Danesh, who attended Brookline schools, said the previous proposal for the 12-story building, which could still be built as-of-right, would create a “major strain” on the Brookline school system.
Currently, a three-and-a-half story building of 16 units sits on the site where the development is planned. If accepted, the existing building would be demolished.
Colette King, a resident on nearby Marion Terrace, said the area is already congested with cars, and she worried that adding more residential units would exacerbate the problem. In a letter to the TAB signed by six of her neighbors, King wrote, “there is already so much congestion in this area. Lots of elderly folks live around here, they move slowly and don’t always look for cars and the cars move very fast down Marion [Street].”
Back in 2004, the town’s ZBA approved the 12-story Marion Street proposal, but with considerable conditions, including limiting the size of the building to eight stories in the rear and five stories on the Marion Street side, resulting in a project of 36 units. The developer, Paragon, appealed that decision with the Housing Appeals Committee, which ultimately overturned the ZBA decision. Brookline officials appealed to the Massachusetts Superior Court, but lost. Still, after the long battle, the developer stepped away from the project and sold it to The Danesh Group. Attorney Robert Allen, who is representing The Danesh Group, said the developers are trying to work with the town. The Daneshes are a Brookline family and they bought this and they think they can propose a better project,” said Allen, a former Brookline selectman. He said the difference in the number of bedrooms from the original proposal to this new one is about 132 to 75. Allen said the new project gives the town a choice. “Do they want to move forward with what they appealed and lost, or something more friendly?” he asked.
Jonathan Davis, a Town Meeting member and a nearby resident, said he’s interested to see what happens as the new development goes before the ZBA. Even though he came out against the 12-story building that was proposed a decade ago, he’s taken a wait-and-see approach with the one offered by the Danesh Group. Davis fought against the proposal back in 2007 along with the town. Now, the town is busy fighting the Hancock Village 192-unit 40B development, which residents in South Brookline have strongly opposed over the past few years.