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In the News

The Right Prescription?: Retail, Medical Offices Proposed for Red Cab Site

Brookline Tab
Thursday, June 15, 2006

A run-down site on the Route 9 corridor may be redeveloped, giving a boost of life to the area known as Gateway East, the Boylston Street stretch in Brookline Village near the Boston border.

William Gause, representing developers Leggat McCall Properties, told the Economic Development Advisory Board and a room of at least 20 residents Tuesday night that they would like to redevelop 111 Boylston St. into a medical office building with first-floor retail shopping. The site was once used as a garage for Red Cab taxi.

"I really like this building," said Sarah Smith, who owns a nearby office building on Boylston Street, of the proposals.

As part of the town's Comprehensive Plan, the Gateway East area is targeted for improvement. Within Gateway East, the plan recommends connecting the area to the Emerald Necklace; exploring options for road improvements; promoting mixed-use developments with public amenities; and to make other improvements for pedestrians and commuters.

The proposed redevelopment of the former Red Cab site was met with cautious optimism Tuesday night. Concerns were for parking, for both residential and commercial use, and how much the building's height, about 70 feet, would affect nearby neighbors.

The site is bordered by MBTA tracks in the rear and is near Davis Path and Boylston Playground.

The developer has not formally applied to the town for permits. The team said it has a purchase-and-sale agreement with the property's current owner, which is contingent on the developers receiving the necessary permitting from the town.

Gause said the building would probably be brick and glass, and would have valet parking for 250 cars. Valet parking would be necessary because the small lot proposed for the side of the building would be tandem parking and the two-story garage would use "stackers," which mechanically raise and lower cars, so two cars could be parked where one would normally fit.

Former Selectman Joe Geller, who represented the site planning, landscape architect and civil engineering firm Geller DeVellis, described sidewalks for the building that would be about 17 feet wide in the front, and said the building would be used for medical offices, not research laboratories.

The proposed building also has a roof terrace on top of the second-story parking garage, which developers said they hoped would make the rear more appealing to neighbors.

Because the building was used as a garage for taxi company Red Cab, Gause said the developers hired an environmental engineer to test for contaminants.

Gause said the developer's intention is to build, stabilize and then sell the building, which drew questions from the audience about ensuring tax income for the town if the building is sold to a nonprofit entity.

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