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401 Chelsea Street

Project Team

ThoughtCraft Architects / Architect
Jeveli Holding / Developer & Restaurant Owner
H+O Structural Engineering
/ Structural Engineer
BLW Engineers
Building, Fire & Access, Inc.
/ Code Consultants
Bald Hill Builders / Cost Estimating & Construction

About the Project

Claiming to be Boston’s oldest Italian restaurant, Jeveli’s is an old-fashioned institution dishing up Italian red-sauce classics amid presidential memorabilia since 1924. The Jeveli Family temporarily closed the restaurant in 2020 due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic with an eye on redeveloping their property to reopen on their 100-year anniversary.

The proposed Project consists of redeveloping the family’s collection of wedge-shaped properties at the east end of Day Square. The design of the building is intended to be a cornerstone in enhancing the proposed BPDA planning recommendations to improve Day Square with added park space, and a new Silver Line T stop. The approximately 47,000 sf, six-story, 63-foot-tall building will be mixed-use with around 40 units over nearly 7,300 sf of ground floor commercial space including the Jeveli’s Restaurant and additional leasable area for local small businesses.

The building will have a basement for utilities and ancillary spaces to support the restaurant on the first floor. A rooftop bar or speakeasy with publicly accessible outdoor space overlooking the square and toward downtown is also being planned. The sustainability goals for the project are to pursue a mass timber framed building, Passive House certification, and provide on-site energy production to significantly reduce the building’s carbon footprint. Deploying green roofs and herb planters in select areas is also being explore for enhanced biophilic design.

The Jeveli Family has spent nearly 100 years in this community, and they are committed to making a significant investment in their legacy for another century. The goal of this seminal project is to make a landmark building that will positively impact Day Square by improving accessibility to the commercial uses, provide a unique living experience that will create desperately needed high-quality housing, and be a model of environmental stewardship in a community that does not typically receive this level of investment.

An Interview with Chris Johns

March 2022 | Chris Johns is an Architect and Founding Partner at ThoughtCraft Architects.

1. Why did you apply for the accelerator and how do you think using mass timber is uniquely beneficial to your project?

ThoughtCraft is a boutique, remote collaborative office working on mid-size urban infill, mixed-use, multi-family housing and particularly projects that have utilized alternative construction assemblies such as modular construction and structural insulated panels (SIPs). We have been researching and testing mass timber on a small scale for some time and this is a unique opportunity to expand our knowledge to scale up this promising construction assembly to reduce carbon emissions.

Our client is not a developer but a family who has owned and operated a small business in the community for nearly 100 years. They are eager to make a statement and create a forward-looking, cornerstone project for the neighborhood. By making this significant investment in their legacy for another century, they will create desperately needed high-quality housing and additional commercial spaces for small businesses, including their own. Using mass timber will create market differentiation and added value with a reduction in carbon emissions and stunningly warm, light-filled dwellings.

2. What is exciting to you about your project as it relates to advancing the use of mass timber in the region?

The goal of this seminal project is to make a landmark building that will positively impact Day Square, provide a unique living experience, and be a model of environmentally stewardship in a community that does not typically receive this level of investment. Mass timber will be a major factor in helping us achieve our sustainability goals for the project including a significant reduction to the building’s carbon footprint, providing on-site energy production, and an enhanced biophilic design with the exposed timber, green roofs, and herb planters in select areas. The site location is also an ideal model for transit-oriented development which further demonstrates the need to create as much sustainable housing as possible here and reinforce the planning efforts made by the BPDA in East Boston.

3. What are some challenges you’ve experienced or seen in trying to utilize mass timber? How will this program support you in overcoming these challenges?

Not having the expertise and data to convince a client it’s a worthy endeavor. Besides just being the right thing to do from an environmental perspective, it also can save them time and money.

We have found it challenging to utilize mass timber on buildings that require geometry other than a rectangular box. Our site has a wedge-like shape which will dictate the form of the building. We have introduced a stepping façade and the program presents the opportunity to perform a case study for this unique condition while we also can benefit from the expertise of WoodWorks and the other teams’ experiences.

4. If you could only tell the general public one thing to remember about mass timber construction, what would it be?

It is strong, fire-resistant, and makes construction more efficient. Who doesn’t love wood?