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Condos would replace glass company, convenience store and billboards on Washington Street in Jamaica Plain

Architect's rendering of 3193 Washington Street in Jamaica Plain

Developers have filed plans with the BRA for a 49-unit, five-story condo building at 3193 Washington St. at Montebello Road - across the street from a proposed 73-unit residential building.

Developers Fred Starikov, Stephen Whalen and Josh Fetterman are proposing 24 parking spaces - and 58 bicycle spaces - for a $13-million building they say is an eight-minute walk to Green Street and Stony Brook on the Orange Line and an easy walk to pretty much everything else that makes JP JP.

Most of the units would have a single bedroom; three would be studios, 11 would have two bedrooms and three would have three bedrooms.

These units will be very attractive to those seeking the diverse neighborhood within the urban context of Boston.

3193 Washington St. small-project review application (3.8M PDF).

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The proposal says the site would be within walking distance from Green Street or Stony Brook stations on the Orange Line. Unless the E Line to Arborway comes back to life, I doubt a Green Line train is within an eight minute walk from that location.

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Green Street is the station on the Orange Line between Forest Hills and Stony Brook. The article doesn't mention anything about the Green LINE.....

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Because I made a mistake, then fixed it (as noted below).

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Looks great.

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You mean Green Street, not Green Line.

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Thanks, fixed.

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This new development is out of character of the neighborhood! How dare they propose something near transit, on a bus route, that is "walkable". This will just create more traffic and drive up prices, because that's how economics work! No new housing, I've got mine, to hell with the rest of you!

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Welcome back. And by and large congrats on the marathon.

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That's just what a (self-driving) Ari replacement robot would say!

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We don't want it here because five stories is too tall. There is too little parking. There is too much parking. The units are too big and too expensive. The units are also too small. There isn't enough green space. It isn't affordable enough. It's a hideous eyesore. We miss the vibrance that the auto glass shop brought to our neighborhood. Did we mention there isn't enough parking?

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I think you've pretty much given us a transcript of how this'll go, yes. Other possibilities:

It's too tall! 5 stories is completely unreasonable. Oh, the 6-story development going up across the street, and the 8-story storage building 25 feet down Washington Street? Those are, uh, outliers.

It's taking the place of a beloved bodega and auto glass store! Well, yes, the bodega passed through two sets of owners in 18 months before it closed a year ago, and the auto glass company has been a vacant lot for three years, but we DEMAND that you include space in the new building for a bodega and a glass store that no one wants.

25% of the units are affordable, almost double the city's requirements and three times the state's? That's not enough! We want it all to be affordable, and sold below construction cost, because our neighborhood is as static and unchanging as the mountains themselves. I should know, since I've lived here for almost four years.

You might have the unwavering support of the entire local business community and most of the adjacent neighborhoods, but what about my Aunt Edna, who lived in the building next door for thirty years and was DEFINITELY against this sort of thing? What? No, we can't ask her, she's been dead since 1998, but I'm positive she would have objected.

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You also forgot the union construction guys showing up to request that the builder use contractors from the city, not RI or NH.

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I live 2 blocks from this project and approve of it but in the next couple years hundreds of people will be moving on to Washington Street because of these several new developments. It will make traffic worse, affecting the bus routes. And it will fill up the orange line even more, and its not uncommon for people to not be able to fit on crowded trains during the rush hour commutes now. Perhaps the new orange line trains coming in a few years will help but there could be major issues on the horizon and I don't see the MBTA or anyone doing much about it.

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The new housing already underway in the area plus the proposed projects are going to bring thousands of new people to the area, which is great because it's filling in a lot of underused property and will be super-transit-oriented. But I really haven't heard any plan to increase or improve the amount of transit to deal with the influx (and make it more convenient for people so that they're less likely to own a car or use it to get in town). We need more Orange line trains clearly but why not also beef up bus service on Washington? The 42 is pretty weak--doesn't run often enough and only goes to Dudley. Why not another line that runs to Ruggles or downtown? Or connects to the Red Line? In retrospect I'm not sure why they didn't extend the Silver Line past Dudley to FH but I'm sure there are more knowledgable transport geeks who know.

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and if so, when did it change its terminal to Dudley?

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It goes to Ruggles on Sundays--go figure. In any case, it's not a very frequent or reliable bus line.

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The new orange line order does increase transit. The orange line runs on a shortage of rolling stock (enough was never ordered), causing the crappy headway times. The new order increases the fleet size to be at its designed capacity and should allow more trains. Add into that the better door arrangement to allow better flow/lower dwell times at stations, and the additional money for signal/power/track upgrades, and the orange line should be running very nicely with a higher capacity.

Of course this doesn't solve Downtown Crossing and other core stations being close to capacity, though.

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Three three-bedroom units in the building? The BRA doesn't seem to have gotten the memo that families need a place to live, too.

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Maybe families who are in the market for a brand new condo aren't looking to buy in Boston proper? Developers typically build to meet demand.

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Developers build to meet demand, but not the demand for housing. They're building to meet the demand of investment properties. And right now the real investment ideal is to build it quick and cheap, and then flip it for the most you can (and to have snazzy artists renderings THAT ALL FUCKING LOOK THE SAME). Really responding to actual housing demand is probably only being done by a handful of developers and even then the calculus is to go towards micro-units to squeeze out the most profit per square foot that you can (which makes sense).

A crash or at least a slow-down will eventually come and that will clear out a lot of the 3rd rate, "mushroom after the rain" realtors, real estate attorneys, developers and such. And then we'll do the cycle all over again for the benefit, mainly, of investors and to a lesser degree some home owners (provided they aren't working in a housing related field during the downturn, lose their job and can't keep up with mortgage payments). In the meantime the need for family housing will remain unmet because you can always make more money on the investment side of real estate than the housing humans side of real estate.

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I actually think this is one of the best looking buildings I've seen in ages. UHub is probably my main source to see drawings of the various buildings being proposed across the city and as many if us have observed, they mostly look all the same--boxy, bland, and ugly. I'm liking the looks of this and think it fits well into the context of the neighborhood, even with the behemoth of 3200 Washington across the street.

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(well you told me to!)

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: )

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Developers are building one-bedrooms because that's where most of the demand is. There are actually more 2- and 3-bedroom apartments in Boston than there are families in need of them, but they're mostly occupied by individuals with roommates right now because there is a shortage of 1-bedroom apartments. Thus, if more 1-bedroom apartments are built (causing the rents on those units to stabilize) we can rationally expect that it will become easier for families to find the 2- and 3-bedroom apartments they're need.

And don't bet on the "bubble" collapsing any time soon. Even when the entire national housing market went into recession, Boston's value only briefly stabilized before continuing its steady upward trend. The prices here are high because jobs in Boston are plentiful, not because developers are flipping houses without occupants. In fact Boston ranks pretty low in terms of investor-owned properties with no one living in them. Housing in Boston is expensive because a lot of people want to live here. The sooner we can come to accept that, the sooner we can stabilize housing prices.

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There's not much pressure because not too many families can afford $40,000 private school tuition on top of their mortgage.

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There are good BPS schools and families are sending their kids to them by choice. Yes, BPS still makes it hard, but it's a thing.

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Many families have only one kid.

Also? Millennials aren't breeding until later, many are planning one, and many probably won't at all. Check the census data.

Meaning: maybe there isn't pressure for family housing.

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I grew up in a good old fashioned two-parents-two-children family and we were just fine living in two bedroom apartments. A third bedroom would have been nice, but two kids sharing a bedroom isn't exactly some exotic form of deprivation. (Even three kids in one bedroom is doable, although by then it starts to get rather snug.)

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Don't you have 2 teen-aged sons?

Essentially, if you moved into this place and enjoyed it, you would have had to eventually move. If the development trend was for studios, 1, and 2 bedrooms only, leaving the neighborhood might end up being the only option for your family.

Sure, the developer can do whatever they want, but the poster has a point. Why punish families even more when the reproduce almost to replacement level?

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Not getting what you want and not getting subsidized because you have a family = punishment?

Really?

Really?

So where is my house in Arlington? I couldn't afford to buy there, but lived there for eight years. Where's my house??? I was punished by having to move to Medford to get that 1300 square foot home at a price that I could afford?

Really?

Look, having a family is not a sacred state. You give up things when you have kids, and make compromises. That isn't punishment - that is reality. Not getting the real estate that you feel entitled to in the community where you want to have it is NOT a punishment - it is a compromise, just like many, many, many others you make when you CHOOSE to have a family.

If you are lucky and do a good job, it is all worth it. Even when you don't end up where you believe you deserve to find space.

(I have one teen and one 20 something)

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So screw the family that has more than 1 kid and wants to live in JP, no?

Honestly, I could not care less how many bedrooms are in this place, but the poster is right that sometimes families are closer to population replacement rate than you think. It amazes me that you have something against families of more than one child. At daycare, half the families are 2 or more (admittedly, mostly 2 kids) so there is some need out there still.

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Can you possibly be any more entitled?

Look HAVING A FAMILY IS NOT A SACRED RIGHT. You make a choice, and you have to make compromises. That is how it works.

Didn't anybody ever explain that to you? Before you had kids? Or did you just not listen.

You are acting like OMG SOMEBODY OWES YOU BECAUSE YOU HAD A KID OR TWO!

All hail sacred fertility! Seriously - have all the kids you want. I don't give a shit. I had two myself. Your family size is your own choice. Just understand that the more you have, the more you will have to pay for them! You do NOT get special privileges for having children, or having more than one. You are NOT entitled to the home of your choice in the neighborhood of your choice because Sperm met Egg over and over again!

Your choices are based on your resources, your decisions, your compromises.

I lived by that, I had to make compromises (Gee, on Planet Waquoit, I'm typing this from Arlington!), why is that so hard for you to deal with when it comes to your own responsibilities?

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Which is that even in China they see the wisdom of couples having more than 1 kid.

Yes, people have and make choices, but why should a family be forced to abandon a neighborhood they love because they want replacement level of children? The city should be encouraging all sorts of unit sizes, not just following your hearsay that those now at childbearing age only want one child (they don't).

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You seem to be using these words in a non-standard way.

No family is forced to leave JP. Most choose to leave because they want larger accommodations for the same price, or schools they feel more comfortable with. They could just stay, keep the kids in the same bedroom, and play school roulette some more. Or they could make the fortune it takes to buy an actual house in JP and put their kids in private school. Nobody forces them to leave. They choose to leave (in great numbers).

As for encouraging, you seem to mean something more than clapping and a pat on the back, no? You mean subsidize. We're already subsidizing "affordable housing," why not also subsidize "big family housing?"

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I think even Swirls can get this.

If an area, be it a neighborhood, municipality, or metropolitan area, decides, through either governmental zoning or the designs of developers, to create housing that is only one bedroom, a mix of 1 and 2 bedrooms, or larger units, it has a knock on effect on the vibe of the area. If a town only allows 55+ developments to be built, there will be less strain on the schools, but it will also become a less "family oriented" area. In this case, if JP only gets one and 2 bedroom units built, larger families, which may have been in the neighborhood for generations, will have a smaller pool of housing to choose from and yes, might be "forced" to leave the place they love, just like Swirls had to decamp from Arlington to the horrible place she lives now.

As far as encouraging, zoning helps, as does people noting, as the original poster in this string did, that there is in fact a need for 3 bedroom units in JP. If the need is out there, hopefully developers will notice. I didn't recall anyone saying that the housing has to be "affordable," just that there is a market for it. Of course, in some people's world, no one has more than one child, which is odd in since in the world I inhabit people do in fact have 2 children.

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I think your councilor might be interested in working with you on the Neighborhood Vibe Ordinance of 2016. It's no dumber than rubber sidewalks, public sunscreen, or banning bunny sales.

Seriously, now you're just making stuff up. Building a bunch of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments where there used to be an auto body shop does nothing to reduce the number of 3 bedrooms in the neighborhood. So I guess we gotta go to intangibles. It's totally going to harsh the mellow?

Really, the thing that's forcing families to leave JP, if anything is forcing them, is economics. The rent is too damn high. That's all. No conspiracy. No shortage. Just price, driven by demand.. Three-bedroom cheap rental is now three-bedroom incredibly expensive condo. It's discrimination against the impecunious, I tells ya!

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I just had an issue with Swirly's dismissal of the criticism of someone who wants 3 bedroom units in JP. To be honest, I've heard a lot about the need for more 1 bedroom units in some parts of Boston, and that is echoed by some of the comments here. I'm just defending people who want to have more than one child, which seemed to be the thing Swirly was saying isn't happening.

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I also think there should be more three bedroom units in Boston.

But what I have seen is that having more than two kids appears to be becoming a form of conspicuous consumption or status symbol. You'll always have families with three, four, five or more kids in JP, but they'll be increasingly wealthy.

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Never thought I'd see Swirly on Team Childless Yuppie.

I suspect that Waquiot isn't speaking strictly on his own behalf. The fact is that this neighborhood is one of the last "affordable" places in Boston where you can manage without a car and there are a lot of very low-income families here who are not being fussy about great schools or hardwood floors--they're just trying not to be homeless. There aren't a lot of options. Which isn't to say that they all deserve to move into shiny new condos just because, but in this crazy Boston real estate bubble, that's the concern, as well as all the middle-class families who suddenly can't afford to stay in the city.

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Seconding this whole heartedly. Also, it's just good for the neighborhood if people with kids continue to live here. It means they're more likely to stay here into their old age, which means they're more likely to care about what happens to it in the long run. Also I like having kids around, even if they're not my own. It makes the place feel alive.

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Seriously, Sally, that ship sailed years ago. And it's not coming back.

JP is not one of the last affordable places in Boston. That was a couple decades ago. JP has jumped in price well ahead of Allston, Brighton, Dorchester... Might as well live in Brookline for the price.

I remember those days. I do. Half a dozen hipsters sharing hummus in a ramshackle triple-decker. Long gone. Either that floor is a 700K condo now, or it's on the way.

I also think the city should "encourage" more family-sized housing. But I don't see this happening as a salting of big units among new buildings. The market distortion would be just too much. How would that play out? One lucky family gets a golden ticket, and lives between market rate units in a subsidized condo? The neighboring units get flipped every three years, but that family stays for decades in a little island? Without some additional controls, the unit would just be occupied by six Berklee students.

I wonder if a market could develop in JP for coop housing rather than condos, and if that could help with the problem you and Waquiot describe. Jamaicaway Tower is Boston's first coop; why aren't there more? The financial hoops and different ownership system can put a brake on speculation and help keep them affordable. It would be possible to build more towers as coops, with mostly family-sized units. Maybe even in JP.

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near Amory which I know has some inclusionary units but it was pretty expensive--I seem to remember 2-bedrooms being priced in the high twos which at the time, ten or so years ago?-- was on the pricier side for the area. It's a great idea though. And yeah, generally I agree with you on the ship having sailed--the "who ate my hummus while I was at band practice??" folks are out of luck. But Egleston has been on the fringe of all that until the past few years. Now, not so much.

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I truly believe not having affordable family housing is part of Marty and the BRA's plan. There has been so little positive reporting on BPS and misinformation about enrollment (although widely reported as declining, has remained relatively steady around 54000-56000 for the past several years). I think Boston Public Schools doesn't want more students for various reasons, and I think Marty doesn't either.
It's a shame, really, because although there are many problems, there are many wonderful schools and terrific teaching to be found. I have 3 kids in BPS, and am a special education teacher who works in many schools. Yes, there are SOME problematic schools, but the issues at most of those schools are far more complex than could be solved on a UHUB comment board. (And for those who think I must be a Union hack, I don't agree with everything my Union promotes, and I've said as much to the head of it. )

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City of Boston has lots of family housing. It is taken up by people who would rather live by themselves.

That is, all the 2 and 3 bedrooms are taken up by people who have roommates because there aren't enough studio and 1 bedrooms.

Build enough studios and 1 bedrooms, the enormous stock of 2 and 3 bedrooms will start to open up again. Build 2 and 3 bedrooms, you're just going to end up with more people living unhappily with roommates.

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They have to be affordable enough for those in roommate situations to be able to buy or rent.

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People say that increasing the housing stock of studios and 1 bedrooms will eventually lead to the price of them coming down. But, I don't think I really buy it (no pun intended). I don't see those prices falling from where they are, and if they do, not much. And I think the issue is more that people can't afford to live on their own. But so long as we need people who aren't going to be pulling $70k+ a year in Boston (where it's still not the wisest thing to do, spending over $1500/mo in rent), they're still going to end up with roommates in those 2-4 bedroom apartments, regardless of the supply of single occupant dwellings. And we'll come full circle to "if you can't afford it, don't live there."

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There's all the speculative non local buyers that further reduce the supply.

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I don't understand how you (or anyone else) can be so convinced that the basic laws of economics do not apply to housing. If more housing units come on the market than there are people to rent or buy them, the prices *will* go down. They have to. No developer is going to let hundreds of excess units sit empty indefinitely. They have investors that expect money to be coming in, and they will lower prices to lure people away from other units and, eventually, from other cities.

There are actually thriving cities in America where housing prices are not ridiculous. Chicago comes to mind. You can actually rent a 2-bedroom apartment there for under $1500 a month in basically any part of the city, and part of the reason for that is a pro-density housing policy that basically grants developers an exemption from the height and parking requirements if they build within a certain distance of a train station. Yes, it means your triple decker might be cast permanently into shadow, but in return you get rents that people can actually afford, and a neighborhood that thrives because your city's workers can actually find places to live without having to move to the suburbs and drive to work.

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I don't understand how you (or anyone else) can be so convinced that the basic laws of economics do not apply to housing. If more housing units come on the market than there are people to rent or buy them, the prices *will* go down.

Cynicism.

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Of...math?

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It has more to do with growing costs associated with rent while wages remain more or less stagnant.

I also think that renter's really don't have much choice or sway in this market. There is little you can do, I feel, to be able to negotiate price with LLs. Your options are take it or leave it, which, to me, doesn't sound like a real healthy market. Maybe I'm wrong.

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But do you not agree that this is mainly a result of there being far more renters than apartments, and that it would be a lot easier for renters if there were many decent apartments to choose from and landlords had to compete for their business?

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Right now my issue is mainly that the renter is basically treated as the commodity. I guess, for me, it's frustration that the lack of supply cannot meet the current demand, let alone fast enough. Either way, now that we've seen that people "are willing to pay" $2000+ for 1BR apartments, or in that neighborhood, which may be historic for Boston (especially in certain neighborhoods and surrounding towns), this just might become the new norm. Again, while if wages continue to remain stagnant, I think that is problematic for anyone pulling less than six digits.

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Chicago is also suffering from massive rent escalation. You can't find those rents anymore.

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The original ordinance that allowed this was kind of limited in scope, but it did make a difference for several years and is probably the main reason that Chicago is now so much cheaper to live in than Boston or San Francisco. They updated the ordinance again in September 2015 to make it more generous, which means that a lot of those apartments should start coming onto the market in 2017. We'll see how it works out.

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are what is sorely needed in this city, at least in my experience.

Many triple-deckers/brownstones, etc. have multiple bedrooms in each unit. In order for most non-families to afford to live here, they have to have roommates.

If there were more one bedroom units, it would free up more multi-bedroom units for families.

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Eventually, they would just fill up with the current amount of speculation and population growth, meanwhile the current transit options just get more crowded and more expensive to upgrade. There needs to be a bigger long term plan for this and look to other places to see how they've reduce some of the speculation.

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You reduce speculation by building more units than the market demands so that developers cannot bid multiple buyers against one another. It's not rocket science. And the transit argument is a straw man, because unless the entire regional population stops growing, we're either going to have to upgrade the trains or widen the roads. Guess which one is going to cost more.

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Ah yes, the strategically written Section 40B in motion. Only the lawyers understand and only the developers with the means know how to rock it and make it work on the runway!

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What does this have to do with 40B?

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Chapter 40B does not apply in Boston. It only applies in communities with <10% affordable housing; Boston is at 18.3% in the latest Subsidized Housing Inventory...

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You mean Green Street, not Green Line.

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I think developments like this are good for families. Too many family homes in Boston -units with greater than1-2 bedrooms- are occupied by family-less people living as roommates. This dramatically reduces the available affordable family housing stock. The demand on units suitable for families is too high. JP is primarily comprised of units being used by family-less roommates. If more housing was available in the JP like this project proposes I would absolutely trade in my rent subsidizing roommates living in our family style home for a unit that was sized just for me.

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