Historic Districts Commission: Central Street Proposal Too Big for Site


July 12, 2019 by Carol Britton Meyer

The Historic Districts Commission and some neighbors who referred to it as "hulking" and a "monstrosity" think the mixed-use development proposed for  25 and 33 Central St. behind Hingham Community Center is too big for the site.

In anticipation of the July 22 joint Planning Board/Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on a proposal to build a three-story mixed-use development at that location, the HDC -- at the request of the Planning Board  -- did an advisory design review last night (July 11) to provide their input prior to the meeting.

"HDC members were consistent in their feedback that the building is too large for the site and because of its size and design doesn't provide an appropriate transition from the single-family homes on Central Street to the downtown area," HDC Administrator Andrea Young told the Hingham Anchor following the meeting.

Neighbors shared their concerns in letters sent to the HDC prior to the hearing. Thomas and Jennifer Anderson, 41 Central St., wrote in part, "The proposed development would tower over the Hingham Community Center next door. . . . This hulking new structure would dominate the buildings around it and block views of both Hingham Square and St. Paul's Church." The Andersons  also expressed concerns about traffic and parking impacts and pedestrian safety.

Molly and Grant Hall, 55 Central St., expressed similar concerns: "The size of the proposed development is an absolute monstrosity and way out of proportion to the other structures and single-family homes in downtown Hingham. . . . More importantly than aesthetics, it's a safety hazard and just unnecessary.  I grew up in Hingham and am saddened by the over-development in recent years. Do we really need more high-end condos in our quaint downtown?" the letter reads in part.

The proposed building would be situated behind the Hingham Community Center. The two existing buildings would be torn down and a new three-story "infill" building constructed. This is considered to be "infill" construction since the new building would fill part of the vacant lots following demolition of the two buildings.

"Even though the proposed building is not in an historic district, Hingham does have a certain character, and whether or not a building is located in a historic district or not,  infill construction needs to fit into the streetscape," Young said.

The Respond Ventures, LLC  proposal includes eight two-bedroom condos on the second and third floor, commercial space on the ground floor, and a garage within the ground level of the building to provide parking for both uses. Krigsman Yoga has the option to continue to operate at this site.

In a brief written description of the work provided to the HDC, the developer anticipates that the residential condominium units "will be an attractive alternative to remaining in large single-family homes for empty-nester Hingham residents who wish to live in downtown Hingham in large, worry-free accommodations that are walkable to the shopping, civic, and other destinations that have been part of, and that they wish to continue to be part of, their community activities and involvement as Hingham residents."

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