The Daily Free Press WEATHER Today: Partly cloudy/High 34 Tonight: Partly cloudy/Low 25 Tomorrow: 39/29 Year xliii. Volume lxxxiv. Issue XX [ Thursday, February 21, 2013 The Independent Student Newspaper at Boston University ] Data Courtesy of weather.com www.dailyfreepress.com Brownstone fire leaves $5 million in damages Mayor Menino puts MICHELLE JAY/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF A 3-alarm fire destroys the fourth and fifth floor of a Back Bay brownstone Wednesday morning. By Michelle Jay and Zoe Roos Daily Free Press Staff A three-alarm fire caused by an in-floor radiant heating unit broke out in a Back Bay brownstone near the Public Garden Wednesday morning. No one was injured, according to Boston authorities. The Boston Fire Department was called to 17 Commonwealth Ave., a condo building, at about 9 a.m. Steve MacDonald, spokesman for BFD, said the fire began on the fifth floor and caused extensive damage. “[There is] Water damage on floors three through five,” he said. “The fourth and fifth floors are now gutted. And there is an estimated $5 million in damages.” Firehouse ladders 18, 17 and 24 reported to the scene, said Deputy Fire Chief Richard DiBenedetto. “It was because of the way the fire traveled,” he said of the need for such a great number of firefightes. “It was in the stairway and it got into the walls, so we needed a lot of man power to open up all of the walls.” Stephen Storm, the site supervisor for the building under construction next door, said he smelled smoke and called the fire department. “Two of our workers smelled the smoke,” he said. “We were working out on the back deck and they smelt the smoke. Then we notified the Boston Fire Department.” MacDonald said the fire was put out within 35 minutes of the firefighters’ arrival on scene. No one was injured in the fire, but building resident John Walsh was in his condo on the third floor taking a shower when he first smelled the smoke. “I smelled the smoke, so I got out of the shower, dried off, put on sweats, went down to the panel and saw the 4th and 5th floor smoke detectors were on,” he said. “So I called the fire department. It seemed like they were here in seconds.” Walsh said he was thankful none of his neighbors were home and the fire department responded quickly. “They assessed the situation and went right in,” he said. “They seemed to have no thought for their own safety.” MacDonald said the building had a pleasant interior and it is unfortunate that it sustained so much damage. “There was a beautiful living room with a nice chandelier and there was just water pouring out of the ceiling,” he said. Officials, researchers voice concern over possible NIH funding By Heather Hamacek Daily Free Press Contributor Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined with local hospitals and research universities at Boston Medical Center on Monday to highlight the dangers of possible research funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health next month. Menino said in a press release Monday he was astounded that Congress could consider cutting NIH funding. “The doctors who have joined us here today have made it their life’s work to improve people’s lives. I hope in the coming days we can say the same about Congress,” he said. CEO and President of Joslin Diabetes Center, John Brooks III, who was present at the press conference, said reducing NIH’s funding would negatively impact not only current research projects, but the future as well. “Over time, the other part of the sequester is — there is a 2013 impact — but if we don’t get our financial help, or it continues to go over the next ten years, That would be devastating to enabling us to keep this type of faculty and keep the people we have here to support this type of research,” Brooks said. The Joslin Diabetes Center uses funds from NIH to support research toward identifying the underlying causes of the disease, and toward developing potential treatments and therapies for individuals struggling with diabetes, Brooks said. He said the center relies heavily on funding from NIH and reducing funding would evoke a major change. “Something is going to have to give and that’s going to be reducing the scope or cutting back on the size of the experiments. That tends to undermine the viabilities of science, so they aren’t really good choices,” he said. In a report detailing the funding cuts released by Research America in 2012, NIH Director Francis Collins, said the cuts would restrict 2,300 grants from being given in the 2013 fiscal year. “The burden would hit particularly heavily upon first-time investigators who are seeking to get their programs up and going,” Collins said in the report. “And upon learning of something of this sort, what is already a considerable sense of anxiety in that cohort, who are our future, would only go up.” Research, see page 2 $8.4 million towards affordable housing By Erica Shulman Daily Free Press Contributor Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the Department of Neighborhood Development announced Monday that $8.4 million in resources and tax credit funding would be put toward three new affordable housing projects in the city. Menino said these projects will help create more housing and create about 300 new construction jobs in a press release on Monday. “It is critical that we use every resource available to build more rental housing for working families in our city,” he said. “Creating affordable rental housing not only provides housing for families, but it also aids Boston’s economic recovery.” The new condo developments will be built in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and Dorchester. They will provide 110 units of affordable rental housing for low-income families and households transitioning from homelessness, according to the press release. Lisa Pollack, director of media and public relations for the Department of Neighborhood Development, said Boston received the $8.4 million from the Commonwealth’s Department of Housing and Community Development. “These were projects that had been stalled because of the economy and financing issues,” she said. “The market for loans was very tight, so things like tax credits weren’t flowing. What this funding does, is it helps us bridge the gap between a stalled project and actually getting some shovels in the ground.” Pollack also said the developments might yield new space for entrepreneueship. “When you are able to open new small businesses, those generate jobs, those generate tax revenue, and those are in no small part the way that Mayor Menino looks at strengthening the communities,” she said. “Also he has always been really focused on helping the small businesses in the city and creating some space for new businesses to be born is exciting too.” In an effort to make the new buildings energy efficient, Pollack said the new hous- Housing, see page 2 BRA approves plans for sprawling apartment complex near TD Garden By Michael Torruella Daily Free Press Contributor The Boston Redevelopment Authority unanimously approved plans Thursday to build a 38-story apartment tower next to TD Garden in the West End by 2014. The 503-unit Nashua Street Residences will include a two-story shopping arcade that will connect the apartment building with North Station and is expected to cost more than $200 million to build and develop, according to a press release from Feb. 14. “Thanks to private infrastructure investment and careful planning, the area is growing into an 18-hour neighborhood,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in the statement. “The Nashua Street Residences are a key factor in that growth.” The tower will contain various units of one to three bedrooms on 32 residential floors on top of a six-story base that will contain a parking garage with 219 parking spaces available for the residents of the apartment, according to the release. Scott Dale, senior vice president of AvalonBay Communities and a developer of the building, said the tower will allow the area surrounding TD Garden to flourish. “This [plan] is much needed residential housing for the area, and a portion of it will be affordable units that will transform a neighborhood,” he said. The building will contain 27 affordable units, and AvalonBay will designate more than $3.2 million for off-site affordable housing, according to the release. Dale said the project will commence later in 2013 and would be the only project for AvalonBay around TD Garden. Michael Ross, city councilor of Back Bay, said in the BRA meeting Thursday that family housing units will be built in addition to the single units. “If you listen to the residents of the West end, they will tell you that they are run- BRA, see page 2 MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF The Boston Redevelopment Authority approved a new housing and retail tower near TD Garden Thursday.