Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April 4 notes from the Master Plan n Chinatown

APRIL 4 MPIC MEETING NOTES
Present: Suzanne Lee (resident/CCLT), Arturo Gossage (resident/CRA), Harry Seeto (Knights), Russell Eng (Knights), Lydia Lowe (CPA), Mary Knasas (BRA), Hamilton Ho, Debbie Chen, Angie Liou, ACDC; Marie Moy, Lawrence Cheng (CCLT), Giles Li (BCNC)

ESSEX STREET HOTEL:
Lydia circulated info on proposed hotel project for 73-79 Essex Street; they will present at CRA public meeting this week. Proposal is for a 250 room hotel,, project height of 181-199', with four valet/loading spaces and no parking. Will be at corner of Oxford and Essex; they propose to set back lower floors of building and cut out sidewalk along Oxford for cars to pull up, then cantilever the building out to current sidewalk level at third floor. Because total square footage is not much more than 100,000 sf, their linkage requirement will be small but they are soliciting input from community about how they can be a good neighbor. Lot of concern about traffic.

Another hotel being proposed for old See Sun building on Harrison Ave, but none of group has seen anything, except reported in Sampan that they presented to CNC. Often CRA learns about projects by reading in the paper about presentations to other community groups; not sure why this keeps happening.

Mary let everyone know that Jonathan Greeley took over from Heather Campisano in charge of BRA development division. Denny Ching is responsible for directing developers and businesses to neighborhood groups. Mary will mention to Denny that both MPIC and CRA should be notified.

PARCELS 25 AND 26:
A good group from Chinatown went to the last DOT public meeting, which involved breaking up into small focus groups.  BRA is now working together with DOT to lead this planning process. A summary of all comments submitted and the breakout groups will be up on website shortly.  While DOT owns the land and will issue the RFP, all approvals must run through the City, and zoning and Article 80 will apply.  The BRA will develop design guidelines with DOT; Corey Zehngebot is the point person from BRA for that.

Date mentioned for the next public meeting was May 3. At that meeting, there would be a draft RFP.  We agreed that it is important to demand another meeting after May 3 before finalizing the RFP.  Their goal is to get out the RFP and select a developer in early fall.

At the last meeting, DOT said that they are obligated by state law to take the highest bidder for the land.  There is a lot of concern about this; community priorities and community ownership should be primary factors in selecting the bidder, not only $. While we should investigate the truth of DOT's claim, we also should push to imbed all of the community priorities into the RFP.

Discussion about drilling down further on what we want in the RFP, the basics of which were in our collective letter.

Affordable housing - 30% of units or 250 units, whichever is more
1/3 at 30% AMI level
1/3 at 60% AMI level
1/3 at middle income level, including home ownership opportunities (70-100% AMI?)

Park
-keep 3 basketball courts
-open evening until 11 pm as well as daytime hours
-maintain or expand size of the park
-safe access/egress and air pollution mitigation measures

Lydia will start a google doc for us to input ideas for what we want in the RFP.  

Debbie will offer a training (maybe April 20?) on development basics for people who are new to the terminology and concepts.

NEXT MEETING:
Monday, May 2 at 6 pm
We will use this meeting for a last minute preparation to get everyone in Chinatown on the same page before the next DOT public meeting.

UPDATE ON MARY SOO HOO PARK: 
Thanks for your support and circulating the update to your friends.  For your information, here’s an update on Mary Soo Hoo Park.

I think you know I am privileged to serve on the Greenway board.  Last summer DOT transferred care/maintenance of Mary Soo Hoo Park to the Greenway.  Since then, Jesse and Greenway folks have been engaged with the Soo Hoo family about improvements to it.  Hing and Jadine regularly communicate with the users to let them know about proposed changes.  It’s a long, slow process because we do not want to disrupt them too much too soon.

After a lot of work and expense, wires to the lights were repaired so the lights are much brighter (rodents chewed through the wires); cigarette buttlers will be installed; Cynthia arranged for Quincy School students to do plantings; new matching tables and chairs will appear in later spring and new horticulture projects are on the horizon.  It is a regular stop for the park ranger.  The trash is emptied several times a day.  These are just a few of the initiatives.

Problems still exist; public urination is a major one. 

It’s amazing to me how much use the park receives.  On a cold winter day I go by and there are folks sitting/standing around the tables.

See you soon.

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