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Developer wants to replace Forest Hills parking lot with residential development

The Jamaica Plain Gazette reports on a developer's plans to replace the LAZ parking lot - the one across the street from the T stop - with a 260-unit development.

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That's prime real estate

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Ground floor retail, across the street from a T stop, gets rid of a surface parking lot. All good things.

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Except if there's not enough parking for people not in the immediate area to get to the T stop. They don't only serve local people. Many people want to use public transit but don't live close to the stations. It's more congestion with little long term effect on housing prices.

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It's fantastic to have more housing and retail across from a T station but at the same time it's kind of useless for a big T station and commuter rail stop to not have enough parking and it feels like Forrest Hills parking gets full or near-full before 7am each day. That LAZ lot seems to soak up a ton of cars from people going to the T or maybe the courthouse nearby. Although I have no idea what the parking setup is going to be at Forrest Hills T after all the construction is done ..

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This is a neighborhood station and major bus hub. You're not supposed to drive to it.

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What about the people 2-5 miles away who are not on the major bus routes? The whole point of a "major" station is to service more than the walk-up neighborhood! Especially when said station is the end of a subway line AND a commuter raill stop.

Not trying to argue (I have easy bus access so that's how I go) but Forrest Hills serves FAR more than just the local neighborhood population and not all of said population has easy Bus access to the station. There may not be a large use case but there is certainly a need to support some level of parking at or near the station and off the neighborhood streets -- especially at the terminal end of a subway line.

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You're responding to a comment from a JP resident. Many JP residents seem to regard the needs of any city resident who lives beyond Forrest Hills to be a nuisance at best if it impacts JP. To say nothing of the let's only build housing for people who already live in JP movement.

Balkanization is like fractals - you can keep zooming into to smaller and smaller views and you'll still find it unfortunately.

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You can't keep building if it causes other issues. Not only people who live near the stations want to use transit. They need enough parking.

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So if you live in Hyde Park how are you supposed to get into the downtown?

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Same as now.

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That is quite the journey for some of us, just to get to the train station.

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I normally would take a bus to Forest Hills but if my family is all going in together and we'll be coming home late, it would be much better to park at the station to have the car for the ride home. Not all the buses run late or often.

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I would say a surface parking lot in a city is a lot more "useless" than a building with 200+ units on top of underground parking. Other than an empty dirt lot there is no greater waste of space in a city. Housing people is a bit more important than car storage for people from the suburbs and the person who owns this property has no obligation to them.

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Roslindale, Hyde Park and West Roxbury are part of the city of Boston, not "suburbs". Until transit access to those neighborhoods reaches some kind of reasonable levels instead of commuter rail, once an hour, not on sunday ghettos, people will need to drive to the nearest station.

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While I agree that transit in these neighborhoods could use some upgrades, the bus is still a fairly viable way to get to the Orange Line. Yes, it sits in traffic, but so does a car. If all the cars that travel from Roslindale, West Roxbury, and Hyde Park to Forest Hills were eliminated, the traffic would be less, the bus would be faster, etc.

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Sometimes a bus every half hour is fine, sometimes, it's preferable to jump in the car and park at the last transit stop.

It makes sense to have a decent amount of parking.

Now, if they would only get rid of that parking I never use at the train station in W. Roxbury and put some restaurants in. That would be nice.

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I want to believe that, however, quite frequently seeing 3 or 4 of the same bus #'s (e.g. 32) in a row leaves me skeptical that it's that simple. So yes, I agree less cars could make the bus experience faster but I think some kind of active management of the buses (keeping a certain distance apart, expressing full buses, etc.) is required for the 'faster bus' scenario to materialize.

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All those busses are the cause of the traffic jams on Washington St.

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So having each of their passengers in their own car would do what, exactly?

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No, not really. Cars cause the traffic.

IMAGE(http://wearetraffic.org/sites/default/files/images/Bike_Car_Comparison.jpg)

A single bus can replace 40 cars, it is not the reason Washington St. and Hyde Park Ave. suffer from such atrocious traffic.

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I live in Roslindale and am an avid bus commuter. I hate driving to Forest Hills and paying for parking, but I am thankful that parking lot is there. Plenty of late nights at work or doctors appointments create difficult logistics for bus to train. If the commuter rail ran more frequently I would almost always choose that over driving to Forest Hills.

When I was pregnant I had MD visits every other to every week at my OB/GYN's office at Faulkner for 8 months. I didn't want to waste my precious time before the baby arrived, so I would make the appts as late as possible and go in super early. I was thankful I could hop off the orange line, waddle to my car and drive over to the hospital. I still face the same issues now for my son's pediatrician appts. The alternative would have meant leaving work much earlier to accommodate a bus ride home to get my car, or a bus to Faulkner and bus back to Forest Hills and then bus home. Or a cab or Uber ride to Faulkner and back. The commuter rail simply didn't run early enough in the am or frequently enough in the afternoon to count that as an option.

On nights when I am meeting friends after work or have to stay late I usually don't want to wait 45 minutes at 9:30 pm at Forest Hills for the bus. I will take a cab if there are any, but so often they aren't there that late at night.

That lot is also used by people going to the courthouse. Not everyone who has to appear there lives on a bus line.

They should put in more housing. That lot should be developed, but they should also spend a good deal of time thinking about how to accommodate the large number of people who park in that lot every day. Better transit, underground lots, whatever.

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Ok. But how does this project improve bus or commuter rail service? It's not as simple as "the people who used to drive now take the bus, and the T notices that ridership is up and decides to run more frequent service, and the increased fare revenue funds that service."

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on this stuff, and I am 100% pro-transit-oriented development, but I have to admit I'm starting to worry about the sheer numbers of units going into this area. As far as I know there are NO plans to increase the number of orange line cars or buses (more 42s? 39s? Silver Line extension to Forest Hills from Dudley?) Cars aside, I just don't see how all these people are going to get where they're going without some major investments/upgrades. The developers clearly have no worries once they've sold their units but the whole neighborhood's going to have to find ways to absorb this many newcomers.

There are also a TON of people who drive here, park and commute. It didn't used to be much of an issue but now that the neighborhood--everything from FH to Stonybrook--is getting denser, it's starting to be a problem.

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... there were 3 parking lots at/near Forest Hills -- and all seemed to get pretty full on week days.

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and even the suburbs. More infill. More people.

Roads are at capacity. The T is at capacity.

It's why many of us keep beating the drum that we need to fix and increase our infrastructure.

In many places across the country, special elections are taking place to pass specific short- and long-term tax increases to solely go to public transit and/or freeway development. Example: Phoenix has done both in the last 20 years.

I don't even know if such a tax is legal in Massachusetts. But we need to do something.

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Building without long term planning causes other issues. There's a limited amount of land. It all creates more congestion. It doesn't have much effect on housing in this sort of region.

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There's only so much you can make the roads accommodate, and transit isn't easily expanded to all areas.

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Well, once the new Orange Line cars arrive, there won't be a car shortage at rush hour any more. And (in theory) mechanical breakdowns will decrease.

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walk 2 miles to the station or crappy bus service. Great.

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If your options are taking the bus, carpooling, or a quick bike ride I'd say thats not too shabby.

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Where does a carpool park if there's no parking?

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Two miles, largely flat, so 10-minute ride.

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Not an option for everyone.

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You can probably bike. 2 miles takes about 15-20 minutes with minimal effort even for out of shape people, and 2 miles in 10-15 minutes isn't even a "break a sweat" ride for most people - just good exercise. I have coworkers who walk 2 miles just to get in the walk. It is a solid distance on foot, but pretty trivial on a bike.

More people biking two miles instead of driving frees up more space in the lots for people who can't bike. It also saves enormous amounts of time - it is massively faster than walking to a traffic-trapped bus that then circles the area.

My son goes to Davis (15 minutes, 3 miles), parks his bike in the cage (5 minutes), and jumps on the red line - about 40-45 minutes door to door to get to Fort Point.

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Sounds like an argument for nonresident permit parking: you would only get to park somewhere if you live more than 2 miles away.

We tend to do the opposite around here. If you live in Cambridge, you get to park near Harvard Square for free. If you live anywhere in South Boston, you can park and hop on the Red Line at Broadway or Andrew. If you live in Rockport, you get to drive to the beach.

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My neighbors would hate me for saying so, but I'm surprised and disappointed that the developer is looking at building only 3-6 stories here. If there's any location in JP that can handle density and height, this is it.

Looking at their web site, it's disappointingly generic suburban architecture. On the bright side, their Cambridge project offers bike shares and zip car.

www.voxcambridge.com/

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This station needs parking because not only local people use it.

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Why should a private land owner be forced to provide that parking when they want to develop their land?

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I live 2 miles from the station and the only way I EVER use it is to drive and park in that lot. I would LOVE to be able to take the bus to the station, but it runs so infrequently after 6:30 pm when I'm usually trying to make my way home that it's impossible.

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Getting there involves a half mile walk to a bus that runs infrequently (and not much after hours), or ... walking (good for drunk times or if I have an hour to kill), or ... biking in 10-15 minutes and having my bike there for my return trip.

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Why not build a garage wrapped by housing and retail?

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There is a huge new development less than 1/2 mile away. Anyone who thinks using the bus to get to Forest Hills is rapid transit is someone who never tried to take the bus. The buses are maybe what 25% on time..Maybe!!

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Glad you mentioned Metro Mark.

Anyone know anyone who has moved in there? Looking for thoughts / opinions.

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"He also said that he has sent out a letter to residents in the area about the project and that the letter hasn’t “had too much response.”

Live on Tower street, never received a letter, nor have my neighbors heard about this. Maybe thats why there wasn't much response?

My issue with the parking situation is that forest hills is a major hub at the END of a line, parking is critical. Can you imagine taking parking away from Alewife, Oak grove, Riverside, etc. It doesnt make sense. I'm usually one for eliminating parking to increase transit, but until you extend the orange line out to Dedham or Roslindale, we need this parking for commuters at terminus stations. The lot is typically overflowing M-F for those who want to utilize public transit for at least a portion of their commute. What happens when you eliminate that?

Also not a big fan of the new development going up. Looks great, cant wait to see what they put in for retail, but 2500 bucks for a 1 bedroom?! Come on people, this is ridiculous. I imagine this new development, if built, will have similar rents.

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My issue with the parking situation is that forest hills is a major hub at the END of a line, parking is critical. Can you imagine taking parking away from Alewife, Oak grove, Riverside, etc. It doesnt make sense. I'm usually one for eliminating parking to increase transit, but until you extend the orange line out to Dedham or Roslindale, we need this parking for commuters at terminus stations. The lot is typically overflowing M-F for those who want to utilize public transit for at least a portion of their commute. What happens when you eliminate that?

THIS. A MILLION TIMES.

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Ashmont Station is at the end of a major line, and there is no parking at all, unless you want to park on the street, if you can find a space. And Ashmont is served by lots of buses, coming from as far away as Brockton.

I actually think parking at such stations is a good idea, but not critical.

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and Mattapan, and want to use Ashmont for parking? Whoops. Or Boston College, or Bowdoin... Not all terminals need massive parking garages, as nice as it would be for some people who cannot easily access the bus.

Of course, the wise decision would be to extend the Orange Line to Needham as should have been done decades ago, but I digress...

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Problem is the end of the line is in the wrong place. The orange line needs to be extended out to somewhere a parking lot is viable.

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I pray they won't be as ugly and imposing as The Commons.

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Noooooo! That parking is needed! I drive from westie and park in the lot. My husband and I have one car and we live too far away from the bus lines to make that convenient/time efficient and the commuter rail is too expensive and would still require parking!

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This is a set of interesting changes. This just goes to show that you really cannot believe anyone.

A generation ago when the old Forest Hills "EL" was demolished and that area redesigned, the neighborhood, abutters and those nearby were vehemently against this kind of development. That is why there was so much grass land around the Forest Hills Station - the "new" station built in the 1980s. The station built in the 1980s is at least the 3rd iteration of Forest Hills station. Maybe the 4th?

This amount of development anywhere in that area, even the apartments being build just on the other side of the Arborway would be unthinkable to those neighbors.

So a new generation comes in and the whole thing changes.

These will have no affordable apartments; a few token ones per law of course. Why? This will be marketed as transit-oriented development. The selling point will be the MBTA station. This is happening all over. Same deal with apartments under construction in or near Roslindale Village. They will attract a specific set that can afford it. This is exactly what the fears are along the Fairmount rail corridor through Mattapan and Dorchester.

FYI - Commercial developers are also buying up commercial blocks in Hyde Park, Roslindale, and West Roxbury and jacking up the rents forcing long-time cherished businesses out. They also see a dollar sign sparkling before them.

If this isn't gentrification I don't know what is. At the least, its urban sprawl.

The person posting that the existing parking is used by people not served by buses is correct. Few if any live in the area and indeed are not served. Or in some instances, it is impossible to get on a bus due to them already being choked at rush hours. I used to travel by bus to Forest Hills but often had 2-3 buses pass before I could jam on. I started walking several blocks to another bus line that had a better shot at just getting on. Still jammed in but fewer buses passing me. I can see why some people would drive and park there to avoid that.

Please don't say the answer is in the MBTA adding more service. They are trying to cut service as-is.

It will be interesting to see just what that neighborhood will approve in another 30-40 years from now after the current stock-in-trade has shuffled off.

I hope at some point they build some pedestrian bridges in the area. As it is the people crossing the streets after each train unloads grinds the neighborhood to a halt.

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It's just more rentals and more demand for services, it's not necessarily improving the area for those already there. It's profit driven without planning for the region and everything else.

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You should be forced to buy something to live in the area?

Seriously?

I take it that you have not had to get a mortgage recently, or looked at housing prices.

As for "demand for services", well, renters pay for that. It is called property taxes, which are included in rent. I don't know about Boston, but in many communities, rental property is taxed at a higher rate than owner-occupied housing is.

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Yes, the rate is higher for non-owner occupied residential property. Definitely a great point regarding cost of services and revenue that can be earmarked toward that purpose.

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Sometimes those also commercial blocks with the interesting architecture are proposed for replacement by larger buildings with a less interesting appearance.

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What kinds of businesses have been pushed out? That's been happening in other smaller towns outside the city as well. Small shops add value to an area.

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Would fewer people drive to Forest Hills if the Commuter Rail Zone 1A were extended to West Roxbury & ran more often?

I'm torn between the need for housing & DapperManS excellent point above about terminal stations. The money doesn't exist to extend the Orange Line, though that would be the logical thing to do.

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It seems like a simple solution to re-price and increase frequency, but the latter is difficult at best due to equipment and operational issues. Without better frequency, re-pricing won't help, because those trains are already too crowded when they arrive from Needham. You might get a few more people to take the train over the bus/OL combo, but it wouldn't really fix things. More frequent trains requires better capacity at South Station. That is planned down the road, but so are increases in Amtrak and main line commuter rail schedules. Needham likely won't benefit from that.

I think the only real solution is an Orange Line extension, but as you point out, there is no funding at the moment. Shorter term, it might be possible to improve bus service, but only by reducing street parking along Washington. Again, the real solution is heavy rail rapid transit along existing rights of way. Roslindale has a population density well above Boston's average. It easily justifies a rail transit solution, but I'm afraid we aren't going to see anything like that any time soon.

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Buy smaller commuter rail trains that run with one employee, and can unload and change ends at a terminal as fast as a subway train can.

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As oft noted before, DMU from Forrest Hills down to Dedham would solve so many Parkway transit woes. Add that and less parking at the end of the Orange Line is needed for sure.

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JP resident and I'm here for the project. Hopefully the prices won't be utterly insane like Olmsted Place (which also has the nerve to be unforgivingly ugly).

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