‘Overzealous Intensification in the Extreme’: Cambridge Residents Push Back Former Kress Land Project
Jane Newland has not mince words when it comes to the proposed development on the former Kress Hotel grounds in Preston.
âThis is overzealous stepping up to the extreme,â said the Fountain Street South resident.
Newland joined with other residents of northeast Preston in speaking to City Council on September 28 over multiple concerns over the massive development, which would see three 15, 17 and 18 story residential towers with 579 units in total, as well as a parking podium and a ground floor commercial space on approximately 2.84 hectares of land at 255 King Street West.
The development would also have 690 parking spaces, but none for the commercial area.
One of the rule changes that the developer, North Development Corp., is asking for, allows a maximum of 600 units. Current site-specific policy limits the number of units to 313 between 255 King Street West and the building adjacent to 237 King Street West.
Newland noted that his apprehension about the development was weighted by the scale and density of the project with respect to neighboring properties, as well as a new access point on Fountain Street hill and environmental concerns. in terms of leveling and drainage.
âThese massive blocks will literally eclipse, swallow up – now after seeing the designs – existing dwellings in the area. If this development continues in the form proposed, these horrors will become Preston’s landmarks, replacing the rapidly disappearing heritage in this region, âshe said.
Some of these concerns were also echoed by Mark Brown, a resident of Fountain Street North, who said a proposed tower would be 60 feet from his house and the parking lot ramp would be four feet from his yard. He said moving them both near the access road on King Street would be more appropriate.
âI recognize that the targeted lands are located in the heart of downtown. However, part of proper basic planning is ensuring that an appropriate transition to surrounding land uses occurs, âhe said.
The request also raised concerns with city councilors, as all said they would like the developer to invest in affordable housing.
âIf we are looking at increasing the density of this site, we also need to seriously consider affordable housing here,â Coun said. Pam Wolf, who first raised the issue of affordable housing. She also suggested a building to be used for rental as these are lacking in the city.
Kristen Barisdale, the developer’s lead planner, noted that the decision was not whether the units would be rental units or condos, and North Development Corp. is willing to discuss affordable housing.
Com. Mike Devine said he was having issues with zero parking spaces for the commercial space. Barisdale responded that perhaps the idea was to have spaces shared between residents and the commercial establishment, with parking available while residents are at work.
âWe have to get rid of the illusion that people are working 9 am-5pm. That illusion is long gone, it’s the door,â Devine said.
Continuing with the parking lot, the county. Scott Hamilton asked if bicycle receptacles could be added to encourage alternative modes of transportation, while the council said. Donna Reid said she would actually support fewer parking spaces to get people to use buses and the future LRT.
Reid added that the development, as a gateway to Preston, needs to be done properly.
âIt’s really important that we have something big and something good that people would love to be a part of,â said Reid.
The request was returned unanimously to staff for a report and recommendation. Com. Mike Mann has declared a conflict of interest with the development because he and his family “own property” at 237 King Street West.