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BRA approves moving affordable units out of planned JP tower

The BRA board this week approved a plan by the developers of a proposed 13-story residential building at 105A South Huntington Ave. to build 36 units of affordable housing someplace else in the area, rather than including them in the project, which will rise from 5 floors on the Jamaicaway side to 13 on South Huntington.

The board agreed to the change after BRA staffers concluded the original plan to put 32 units of affordable housing in the 195-unit project was not financially feasible

The developers will have a year to find a location for the affordable units, which BRA Director Brian Golden said would be "comparable" to the units at the main site.

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Poor entrance two blocks that way --->

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Didn't that actually happen in NYC - the developer put in a separate entrance for the low-income residents?

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Yes. But the units were partitioned in such a way that it made sense. It wasn't like there were two doors going to the same lobby

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it's totally reasonable.

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Well, sure. Why would you let poor people use your nice lobby.....

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Because it's not esthetically pleasing to urban professionals who are living in the rich people units. Poor people are criminals, don't work, live off the taxpayers, and are scary to look at. Sheesh, that's why. So developers and government have come up with "creative" ways to hide the scary people in "Inclusionary Housing" units.

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I have no idea why that made news. Boston has high rise luxury buildings with a dedicated elevator just for the fancy units on the upper floors. Pretty common really. Don't want the poor hanging out on the rooftop decks.

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Yes, the housing would be built elsewhere.

For those of you who didn't catch that, nowhere in the post does it say there will be a "poor door" ... the income-restricted units would be built off-site, in a separate building, presumably somewhere in the neighborhood (of Mission Hill or Jamaica Plain, TBD).

The way I read the IDP is that a developer who needs zoning relief from the city is required to counteract it by including income-restricted (or, "affordable") units as part of the project. Typically, it's 13 percent of the total units being built, rental or condominium.

The developer can either:

* Include the units onsite; or,
* Pay a certain amount per unit into the city's affordable housing fund.

The amount paid into the fund is a set amount, from what I understand, and can be adjusted. I believe it hasn't been adjusted for years and now stands at something like $250,000 per unit.

Again, the developer has a choice between including those 13 percent of units in the project or contributing money to the fund. Again, this is required because of the city's IDP (Inclusionary Development Policy), which was set up during the Menino administration. It's not an actual law, from what I can tell.

Developers have been including those units in their projects for years now. I'm not aware of any developer sneaking its way around that. I believe that developers have made payments to the BRA and the BRA hasn't used that money to build housing, but that's no fault of the developer.

I'm not aware of any developments in the city where the lower floors are all income-restricted and the higher floors are for the rich, market-rate payers, so if anyone has specifics, please send them my way. If they are set up that way, my guess would be that those buildings were set up like that by the developer based on reasons other than to follow IDP rules. Simply, there aren't enough units required in any building that they could fill the lower floors of a development. That doesn't mean they won't be on the lower floors, but that they'll be mixed in with lower-priced but market-rate units on the lower floors.

Developers have the choice between building onsite or paying into the fund. Some pay into the fund and it's easy to see why: Building a unit of housing in a project in downtown Boston might cost you $350,000 - $450,000 for a one-bedroom (that's the cost, not the sale price). If a developer can pay $250,000 into the city's fund, instead, then of course it would be a foolish decision to build a unit onsite, instead. There's been talk of increasing the amount required per unit to bring it up closer to the level of what it costs to build onsite - those who believe the goal should be mixing of different income groups (like the commenter below) would like that because if the amount to pay the city is close to what it costs to build onsite more developers might be willing to build onsite.

Building the affordable units on a different site altogether doesn't happen too often, as Adam points out, as far as I know. There has to be some "hardship" involved on the part of the developer (not sure what constitutes that). I don't remember the name of the development in the Back Bay, either. I don't think it was the Mandarin but it could have been. There was room for just 50 apartments and 50 condos there, I think, so the math wouldn't work, according to the developer and to the BRA (that's their decision to make). I don't know but it might also end up happening at the Four Seasons under construction because it's such a narrow building (SUCH a narrow building) that it's hard to see how you make it work.

Why would a developer build on another site versus just paying into the city's fund? I don't know; good question.

I'm only aware of one project where the developer built the income-restricted units offsite. That was with Pappas Properties and their Court Square Press / Macallen Building project. They built housing down toward the Conley Terminal. One of the Herald's writers took a look at it and talked to tenants and ended up calling it the Plywood Palace because the buildings were falling apart. Probably a good reason to require developers to include onsite - no developer is going to risk including crummy construction as part of a project.

Two other developments to look into are The Metropolitan and Rollins Square. The Metropolitan had an apartment tower and a condo tower, I believe, and a mix of income-restricted and market rate. I think there are two doors but that's to separate condos from rentals, not rich from poor, unless I'm mistaken.

Rollins Square may have portions of the buildings in the complex for market-rate and subsidized renters but that's not because of any restrictions set by city. The developer was the Catholic Archdiocese and many of the apartments are for low-income tenants.

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The fund was set up as a consolation by Menino and his developer friends after they set Boston up to be the first major city in the country to do away with rent control and kill the Arborway line. Gentrification at its worst.

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Were other major cities also trying to kill off the Arborway Line (last used when Dukakis was Governor and Flynn was mayor)?

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And nobody can take our municipal title for First to Kill off the Arborway Line away from us.

Now that's world class.

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Can the BRA staff be trusted to remember this promise, whether due to genuinely forgetting, not setting up some tickler to remind someone or just purposely forgetting?

The BRA reminds me of Robert Moses' empire.

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Boston Redevelopment Authority BRA Electoral Maps. Electoral Boundaries
http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/research-maps/maps-and-gis/e...

QUALIFIED LIST OF CANDIDATES FOR 2015 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
http://www.cityofboston.gov/elections/
COUNCILLOR-at-LARGE
1) Michael F Flaherty South Boston MA 02127 617-269-4673 617-635.4205
flahertyforboston at gmail.com
https://twitter.com/mfflaherty
Present City Councillor at Large

2) Annissa Essaibi George Dorchester MA 02125 617-474-0797 617-594-1841
https://twitter.com/AnnissaForBos
annissaeg at hotmail.com

3) Stephen J Murphy Hyde Park MA 02136 617-361-3339 617-635-4376
councilormurphy at aol.com
https://twitter.com/CouncilorMurphy
Present City Councillor at Large

4) Ayanna S Pressley Dorchester MA 02124 857-220-7026 617-635-4217
ayannap at ayannapressley.com
https://twitter.com/AyannaPressley
Present City Councillor at Large

5) Michelle Wu Roslindale MA 02131 PO Box 180231 Boston MA 02118 617-599-0449
michelleforboston at gmail.com
https://twitter.com/wutrain
Present City Councillor at Large

__________ ____________________
QUALIFIED LIST OF CANDIDATES FOR 2015 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
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DISTRICT CITY COUNCILLOR
DISTRICT ONE Charlestown, East Boston, Harbor Islands are a part of District 3 except Deer Island which is part of District 1, North End/Waterfront
6) Salvatore LaMattina East Boston MA 02128 617-567-0071 617-635-3200
sallamattina at gmail.com
https://twitter.com/SalLaMattina
Present District City Councillor
__________ ____________________
DISTRICT TWO City Hall/Beacon Hill/Islands , Chinatown, Harbor Islands are a part of District 3 except Deer Island which is part of District 1, South Boston, South End.
7) Bill Linehan South Boston MA 02127 617-224-6911 617-635-3203
Bill.Linehan at boston.gov
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Present District City Councillor
__________ ____________________
DISTRICT THREE Dorchester, Dorchester/New Market, Harbor Islands are a part of District 3 except Deer Island which is part of District 1, Mattapan, Roxbury/South Bay , South Boston , South End.
8) Frank Baker Dorchester MA 02125 617-288-9061 617-635-3455
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Present District City Councillor

9) Donnie Palmer Dorchester MA 02125 617-470-1437
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Veteran

__________ ____________________
DISTRICT FOUR Codman Square, Dorchester, Dorchester/St. Mark’s , Fields Corner, Franklin Field, Jamaica Plain, Lower Mills, Mattapan, Meeting House Hill, Roslindale.
10) Andrea Joy Campbell Mattapan MA 02126 617-874-0210
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11) Charles Calvin Yancey Dorchester MA 02124 617-436-4444 617-635-3131
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Present District City Councillor

__________ ____________________
DISTRICT FIVE Hyde Park, Mattapan, Readville, Roslindale.
12) Timothy P McCarthy Hyde Park MA 02136 617-364-9971 617-635-4210
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Present District City Councillor

13) Jean-Claude Sanon Mattapan MA 02126 617-839-7191
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__________ ____________________
DISTRICT SIX Back of the Hill Development, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Roxbury, West Roxbury.
14) Matt O’Malley Jamaica Plain MA 02130 617-935-9752
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Present District City Councillor
__________ ____________________
DISTRICT SEVEN Blue Hill Avenue, Columbia Road, Dorchester, Dudley, Fenway, Roxbury, South End.
15) Tito Jackson Dorchester MA 02121 617-635-3510
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Present District City Councillor

16) Charles L Clemons Jr Dorchester MA 02121 617-334-4639 617-686-1377
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__________ ____________________
DISTRICT EIGHT Allston, Back Bay/Beacon Hill , Fenway/Kenmore , Mission Hill, West End.
17) Josh Zakim Back Bay MA 02116 617-480-0203
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Present District City Councillor
__________ ____________________
DISTRICT NINE Allston, Brighton.
18) Mark S Ciommo Brighton MA 02135 617-789-4693 617-635-3113
mark at markciommo.com
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Present District City Councillor
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I've been very fortunate and get too live in a BRA unit in a luxury building in the seaport district. It's like living a dream and I am very grateful to the BRA for that. However the best thing about it is being able to interact and develop connections with people that are in a much more privileged position than myself or anyone else I know is. I think tha this is probably the biggest advantage of the many with living in a BRA unit. Coming from poverty I can't begin to explain how beneficial this is as far as what it does to change your outlook on life. Putting these units in another building altogether robs this benefit.

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...but do you want to know what really sucks? Being 53 years old, a 30-plus-year resident of Boston, and working 3 part-time jobs totaling over 60 hours per week, none of which provide any benefits. So, yes, you make over $50,000 a year before taxes, which means you're in a high tax bracket, you get no subsidy for your mandatory healthcare, and you qualify for no housing programs. Try finding a decent place to live in the city of Boston. You can't even find a studio for under $1000 a month. Yeah, THAT'S what sucks.

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Are the problem - why should some politically connected people be able to get luxury condos for next to nothing while the rest can't afford anything when developers raise prices on market-based units to make up for lost profits on "affordable" units? When it comes to affordability, wouldn't it make sense be able to sell 9 units to those making 50-100k than 1 unit to some smug Starbucks jockey whose daddy/uncle/etc is a big shot at the BRA?

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As long as something gets built on that lot I'm happy. It's wasted space and we need any units we can, affordable or market.

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There's no reason to refer to it as 105A S Huntington EVER. The parcel sits between 81 and 105 S Huntington. They couldn't pick an address within that range??

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.

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And board member Ted Landsmark expressed concern about letting the developer do this, for just the reasons expressed in this discussion.

However, possibly also relevant to the discussion: The net result will be four more affordable units than the developer originally proposed, which itself was, I think, some number higher than the minimum required by the BRA - assuming this does not become one of those projects that the BRA kind of loses the paperwork on and forgets about, because this is a new BRA that doesn't do that sort of thing anymore, or so they keep telling us.

The idea of the affordable units NOT being in the main project is not new. There's at least one project in the Back Bay like that (the name escapes me at the moment, but I could look it up), and the BRA lets developers pay into a fund used to build or acquire affordable units (at least one of the luxury projects approved for the East Boston waterfront will also have no affordable units, in exchange for the appropriate payments into this fund).

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Yeah, and where does the money in that fund actually go? Given the dearth of affordable units in Boston I suspect a friend of Menino left over from Hizzonah's era quietly offshoring the proceeeds.

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this is also the plan for the tower planned for Dudley Square--offsite affordable units, though maybe someone can confirm or deny. There is something s little off about it but then again, if the net is more affordable units, then maybe it doesn't matter. I do appreciate what the poster above wrote about the social benefits of mixed income housing and being just exposed to more or less privileged people on a daily basis.

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I worry about the off-siting. So long as it is within the confines of Boston the BRA is satisfied. But its much more important to have those affordable units in an area like Jamaica Plain [even those parts that are a little shabbier] than it is in less gentrified neighborhoods. And in a split building those affordable units would presumably be getting the same overall maintenance and management they might not get separated and off site.

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Now coming to furthest Mattapan

Ready to serve all your off-sited poor people apartment needs in one inconvenient location.

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Thanks, Adam. I couldn't find it on the BRA site. Glad they're increasing the number of units, but I share the concerns of those below (above? not sure where this comment will fall) that this means more affordable housing pushed to the city fringes. I wish the BRA would get guarantees that some percent of the affordable housing would fall within a quarter mile of the approved site.

Would also help if Baker, who seems hell bent to ...do something?... with the T would push for better service to Mattapan. Since it seems to be part of a grand plan to relocate everyone not fortunate enough to make the MHI for Boston to Mattapan, the least that could be done is to extend MBTA (not MBCR) lines so we aren't forcing the Bostonians with the lowest incomes to buy a damn car.

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The BRA sends out a press release on all the projects that have won board approval.

For some reason, neither this project nor the refinancing of the Crosstown hotel made it in.

For what it's worth, here's the 2013 letter of intent for the project.

One thing, though: The BRA says the affordable units will be somewhere near the main building, not shuffled off to Mattapan or Hyde Park or wherever.

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Developers offsiting affordable units should be incentived (required) to enhance the offsited neighborhood with parks, walk/bike paths, and better public transportation. Apply city policies and funds toward more equitable quality of life across the city. A place to call home goes beyond four walls.

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