Focus on Foot Traffic at Chestnut Hill Square
Developers of the Route 9 project address pedestrian access issues as a vote approaches.
It's almost decision time for Chestnut Hill Square.
Developers of the massive Route 9 project met again last night with the Board of Aldermen's Land Use Committee, which should vote on their proposal by the end of the month, said committee Chairman Ted Hess-Mahan, ward 3 alderman-at-large.
At last night's meeting, the developers said they would make "numerous small changes to the design, all of which were improvements to pedestrian mobility," said Deborah Crossley, ward 5 alderman-at-large.
The developers are seeking special permits and zoning changes to build 102,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 60,000 square feet for medical offices, a 51,000-square-foot supermarket, a 30,000-square-foot health club and 91 residential units on 11 acres at 200-230 Boylston Street, the former Omni Foods site.
The ability for people to get around the site easily on foot has been a concern of many committee members.
"There has been the suggestion that the entire site is a little too forbidding to pedestrians…and what we were hoping for was to encourage mobility," Crossley said.
The developers agreed to remove a row of parking spaces, freeing up room to widen the sidewalks outside the retail areas by 10 feet. They also proposed to build a sidewalk along the entire property on Florence Street, which would connect to a pedestrian walkway into Chestnut Hill Square.
The Land Use Committee will hold one more session on Chestnut Hill Square on Nov. 23 before voting on the project Nov. 30, Hess-Mahan said. If the committee approves the proposal Nov. 30, the full Board of Aldermen would be able to put it on the Dec. 6 agenda. By law, the board must take action by Dec. 27, which is 90 days after the Sept. 28 public hearing.
At that public hearing, more than 80 Brookline and Newton residents voiced concerns over the project's effects on traffic, both on Route 9 and in surrounding neighborhoods. The Land Use Committee followed that hearing up with a late-October session, where an independent traffic consultant said planned road improvements would lessen the traffic effects.