By far the most important proposal to be filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority recently is Rafi Properties’ proposal to build a 30-story building at 533 Washington Street in Downtown Crossing without parking. The project will have 94 apartments in a mix of studios, one-bedroom units and two-beds, along with two floors of “non-profit incubator office space” totalling 4,000 square feet. The two lowest floors will be restaurant space, also totalling 4,000 square feet.
The total project will involve 105,000 square feet. It replaces a five story building built in the 1860s that most recently housed a nightclub. The facade of the building will be retained by the project and Harlem Place, an alley separating the existing building from Suffolk University’s Modern Theater Building, will be utilized whereas now the windows on that side are blocked up.
According to the filing, an unpublished survey by traffic consultants Howard Stein Hudson showed that actual parking demand in Downtown Boston has been declining for several years and stands at 0.7 spaces for a condominium — and rental demand is lower than condo demand. As a result, the developers think that all the parking needed by the building can be met by the nearly 5600 spaces within a half-mile walk.
Washington Street has seen a lot of activity lately, with several Millenium Projects, including the filling of the Filene’s Memorial Hole and the opening of Roche Brothers and Primark. Very close to the project, at the corner of West and Washington, an old building was recently renovated into a boutique hotel called The Godfrey.
It remains to be seen if the project can get through the review process without parking. Back in 2013, Sebastian Mariscal proposed a 44-unit building in Allston without automobile parking, but he was ultimately required to add 35 spaces and eventually dropped the project all together.