2006-04-20 / News of Record

Boston firm seeks to turn East Ferry building into condos

By Dotti Farrington

Raymond and Karyne Bazzano of Preston Real Estate of Boston, owners of the 10-apartment building at 10 Narragansett Ave., Monday told the Town Council that their firm wants to convert the more than 100-year-old structure into 10 condominiums, adding a net of 800 square feet to make six more bedrooms.

The firm presented preliminary plans to the Planning Commission last month and wants the council, which also serves as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners, to agree that the six additional bedrooms will use only 88,000 more gallons a year, while saving nearly 1 million gallons of water through the istallation of water-conservation devices. The current occupants used an average of 145,000 gallons in each of the past three years, the developer said in a written summary.

The councilors said they would have town staff research the status of credit that may already have been given for retrofitting water fixtures, and how that would be a factor in considering impacts of the proposed new construction. Town water regulations state that any new use of an existing property in the municipal water district cannot use more than the highest total of the past three years, which was 167,000 gallons in 2003 for that property.

Since some of the numbers used by the developer were speculative, the councilors called for town staff to get actual water-use figures for other condos on the island to use as guidelines for reviewing the proposed project. The councilors noted that the conversion would provide much needed fire safety factors for the property.

The Bazzano presentation also included notation of a below-market purchase plan for some of the condos to meet the needs of existing

tenants. The Bazzanos emphasized, however, that the project would not meet government guidelines for affordable housing. They said they are working on a qualifying affordable housing plan for senior citizens on another Narragansett Avenue parcel, but a specific address was not given. The councilors noted that the Bazzanos could not apply the affordable housing designation to 10 Narragansett Ave. on the basis of specifications for another location. Whether the proposed condo units would have clothes washers was a question, and the Bazzanos said the answer was pending.

Hookup amendments

In another business, the councilors completed a public hearing on amended regulations governing water connection costs and adopted the amendments. The rules became effective upon adoption and would be applied to all completed applications as of that time, according to Town Solicitor

Lauriston Parks. He said it would have to be determined if the Preston application would qualify as a completed application.

The Preston firm wrote on its application that it understood it would be paying the old rates.

The new amendment states that the connection fee to the municipal waterline would be increased from $2,000 to $3,000, and that installation costs would be a minimum of $1,850 on town roads and $3,300 on state roads, with actual costs over those amounts to be assessed to the customer.

Other business

Steven Goslee, director of public works, including the town water and sewer departments, reported on several projects. He said digging started this week on the pipeline on Narragansett Avenue, including archeological oversight. "We didn't find anything we shouldn't have," he said.

He said the work would continue under guidelines with chamber

of commerce suggestions. Those include four 10-hour days of digging, allowing work to be stopped for three-day weekends as requested by restaurateurs and some merchants.

Goslee said construction for the new water tower next to the existing one on Howland Avenue, includes erection of the security fence this week and then laying the foundation. The plans for the new water treatment plant are continuing, with completion of application for a state Coastal Resources Management Council permit, expected to involve a three-month review process, he said.

Goslee reported that the specifications for the sewer treatment plant renovation are ready to go out for bid, with bids from contractors due in mid-May.

He also reported that pumping water from South Pond to North Pond reservoir was to begin this week to keep the town's main reservoir full.

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