Boston’s zoning board approves controversial North End hotel

The Boston Zoning Board of Appeal dealt one more crushing blow to the impassioned opponents of a proposed boutique hotel in the North End, approving the project at a hearing Tuesday.

“I’m really getting tired,” said board chair Christine Araujo, exasperatedly cutting off a fiery neighbor during Tuesday’s hearing. “We have already been inundated with letters in support and opposition.”

The project in question is a “134-key boutique hotel with two ground-floor restaurant uses and seasonal rooftop dining with a total seating capacity of approximately 300 persons at 42 Cross Street” developed by Cross Street Ventures, according to the BPDA summary.

Abutting property owners and allies on either side of the issue have been battling it out since the project was proposed nearly two years ago.

The board approved the project with a 6-1 vote at the end of Tuesday’s hearing.

Proponents said the developers have committed to invest more than a $1 million in the public space along Morton St., Cross St. plaza and Cutillo Park and the project will “revitalize” the “blighted” property. The developers’ lawyer said they collected 385 letters and signatures in support of the project.

Opponents noted a number of issues, focusing on concerns about parking and traffic — the hotel will not provide parking and remove existing parking in the lot — lack of handicapped and elderly access and shading Cutillo Park and nearby residences.

A major complaint centered on the allegation that although the developer held community meetings before BPDA approval, they have not engaged with local residents since making significant project changes.

“Somehow this developer has skipped the public process and gotten a pass to land on the agenda today,” said Mary Beth Sweeney, an abutting property owner and outspoken leading opponent.

City Councilor Gabriela Coletta said although she supports the project — because developers have committed to “providing civic amenities in a way that is equitable for all” — she is concerned about the loophole that let the developer avoid consulting the community on changes made after BPDA approval .

“I believe this is the political opportunity,” Coletta said. “We should change this. Residents should have gotten another shot at looking at these plans and providing their feedback.”

Many residents remained unsatisfied, claiming public officials, particularly Mayor Michelle Wu, let them down.

“The fix was in for the developer,” Sweeney said after the meeting, “and ZBA didn’t even try to hide it.”

Sweeney said despite this defeat opponents are now “considering all options” to stop the project, including litigation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.