FPRA Meeting on 6/16 to Preview Plans for Tokyo Site

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View from Vassal Lane

You may have noticed the dumpsters and the activity at the former Tokyo restaurant on Fresh Pond Parkway. Change is on the way, so we have invited the property’s owner to share his plans at our next meeting on Tuesday, June 16 at 7 pm at the Tobin School. Read on for more about Tokyo’s future as well as other items on our 6/16 meeting agenda.

Some background:

After being shuttered and neglected for about a decade (memory fades as to the exact year the restaurant closed), the Tokyo property sold last November for $3.1m to EMJR Properties, Inc. Elie Al-Lakkis runs the Mobil station and auto repair garage next door at the address listed for the corporation (325 Fresh Pond Parkway). He says he intends to expand the repair garage into the former restaurant building without changing the footprint or height of the existing structure. The two buildings would connect through their abutting walls, and that there would be no garage entry on the Vassal Lane side. The Vassal curb cut would remain for cars to enter the parking lot from the street (a 2-way street at that point); he says the lot would be used primarily for employee parking during the day, as he feels it is not secure enough for overnight car storage. He plans to put brick on the facade of Tokyo (to match the material used on the existing garage) and there would be a few windows on the sidewalk facing the parkway. He says he would install a permanent fence around the lot and do some landscaping. We have not seen any renderings or specifications, so this is all we have to go on. We have asked that his architect attend Tuesday’s meeting with drawings.

Our understanding is that this specific change of use within a Business A zone requires a special permit from the Board of Zoning Appeal, and that the Planning Board also would have to approve the plans since the property lies in the Parkway Overlay District, which has special standards for front setbacks, fencing, parking, façade design, landscaping, and mechanical equipment requirements. We are awaiting confirmation of the permitting process and criteria from city staff at ISD and CDD.

Other items on the FPRA’s Tuesday, June 16 agenda:

Master Plan/Alewife study: We will discuss the FPRA’s role in preparing residents and others to be constructive, engaged participants in this process, especially the “early phase” related to Alewife.
Watertown-Greenway bike/ped path: We will update the group on the discussion at the June 9 meeting with DCR and the city. Construction on the path is targeted to begin by next summer.
Alewife Reservation concerns: Construction all around the Reservation is affecting water quality in the Little River and displacing wildlife at alarming rates. The Silver Maple Forest/Belmont Uplands development has aggravated the situation, construction has begun on new buildings in Discovery Park, and there is the possibility of another large development across Route 2 on the Mugar Wetlands.
Ideas for Park[ing] Day: Anyone have a creative concept for turning a parking space into a park on September 18th as part of the city’s 3rd annual Park[ing] Day demo? The idea is to prompt reflections on the meaning and value of public open spaces.
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Garage next door to Tokyo

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The garage is visible to the left

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