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Planning for the Washington Street corridor in JP, Roxbury, falls apart in typical JP fashion

The Bulletin reports on the infighting that has delayed a BPDA vote on what to do along Washington Street in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, which has devolved into people involved in the process only agreeing to talk to a reporter off the record.

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Fine with me. This means that development will continue at its current pace without regards to the demands of these groups that only want to see something that they like. There have been plenty of meetings where the groups have been able to demand x% affordable units and buildings no more than x feet tall.
The BPDA needs to balance the desires of the community with the needs of the city. If they don't like being part of a big city, then perhaps they should push for secession instead of stonewalling.

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If only.

What it really means is that all projects (even very reasonable ones) will continue to be subjected to a years-long and ultra-expensive community process that ultimately results in only a few tiny modifications to height and affordability. One of the main goals of this process was to speed up the pace of development and lower the cost of construction (by simplifying the approvals process).

Further delays hurt everyone, but they hurt people being displaced by gentrification the most.

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I just don't understand fighting for a limit of 6 stories for buildings that are right next to T stops. This is a city. There should be tall buildings and density. By the time these buildings are done we should have new orange line trains so we'll be able to hand the increase in residents.

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They don't care about the city at large or anything larger than their personal interest in having below market housing for 'the right people', presumably people who live there and are members of the right groups.

Here's a relevant quote from one of the people making sure this is done behind closed doors.

"The stakes are very high. This has to be background information. These negotiations are in good faith. They are very personal.”

They don't really want more residents in their neighborhood but they would really like to lock in their ability to live there cheaply for an indefinite amount of time. It just goes to show that the parochial attitude we like to assign to Southie really exists everywhere.

Displacement is real issue, which can be addressed by adding market rate and fixed income residences among the development. But 70% should be for fixed income residents? Pipe dreaming.

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These meetings have gotten so contentious that I know very few people who still attend--and these are engaged, interested long-time neighborhood residents. Why go to a meeting when you're just going to get shouted down and lectured at, etc. by people who don't seem to have any realistic, positive plan to affect the neighborhood? They keep using these neighborhood income stats without considering the huge number of residents who are already living in public/subsidized/elder/institutional housing. If you are 86 and living in Walnut Park towers, you are not going to be displaced or seeking new housing. And they don't seem interested in listening much to anyone who wants to tell them any hard and fast numbers about how to finance, build and maintain affordable housing.

It's incredibly frustrating. And meantime the building continues unabated and home prices continue to skyrocket. After all the hoopla, I'll be surprised if there's anything positive to come out of all the delay and obstruction.

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well said - i hadn't considered how they are skewing the stats by using the large number of folks living in elderly, subsidized housing

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of elder housing (Amory, Walnut St, the tower, Washington St), hundreds more of Urban Edge housing, Academy Homes, and what I think is an unusually high concentration of group homes, rehabs, etc. between Green St and Egleston. I just find it shoddy that they don't bother to include this in their math. And at the risk of sounding unsympathetic, if you are making $20k a year then yes--you're going to have a hell of a time affording a place on your own in Boston. That's just a fact.

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There is one proposed development, 3353 Washington Street, which may be up for a close, contentious city approval vote on December 15. If anyone wants to help end the obstructionism, and help expand the housing supply, consider writing a few sentences, or paragraphs, in support of this transit-oriented project, which will put 44 more units into the pipeline, 18% of which are set aside as affordable.

http://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/3353-washington...

Please consider sending a letter to:

[email protected]

and

[email protected]

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by keeping that building and others in JP empty for what? fifteen years, while booting decent tenants and demanding crazy rents, I might be inclined to but as far as I'm concerned he can go pound sand.

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This is exactly what I'm worried about with this development. We all hate the developer (and with good reason) but with all due respect it's mainly the neighborhood that suffers when we block a project like this to spite the owner. That block needs development, we need the housing, and he owns the land. The project he's proposed is actually a pretty good one. There's little to be gained by sticking it to him in this case.

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I think it's about freaking time that something was done with that building, but this is a case where I don't mind seeing his feet held to the fire a bit. And given his past and current behavior as a landlord, I'd like to see some more guarantees that we don't end up with a half-empty building or another empty overpriced retail space that he can take tax deductions on. Am I holding my breath? No.

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Have you met JP? We have never allowed even a relatively benign large project to go forward without holding the developer's feet to the fire. Morty has certainly been no exception. The best thing we can do at this point is to just keep building along Washington Street so that he actually has to compete for tenants. Besides, if our big complaint is that he has allowed important properties to sit vacant, wouldn't it be a bit backwards (and even hypocritical) of us to work to ensure that the exact same thing continues to happen at Green and Washington?

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My take on the whole thing summed up by (paraphrasing) one person who was interviewed for the article:

"We don't know how you would do it but we want you to fix everything."

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I'd modify that slightly:

"We don't know how you would do it but we want you to fix everything without changing anything."

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"We don't know how you would do it but we want you to fix everything."

Anybody involved with infrastructure has heard similar words.

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This is really troubling. We've had a public process of meeting now some self appointed groups are negotiating for changes on behalf of the neighborhood? I love living in JP but this is not fair to all of the rest of us who are interested in this process.

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I work in a building in this area. It's worth about $1m. If I bought it I would have to get a mortgage for $3m without expanding the space or rental offering at all just to meet bank and insurance regs.

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If you have an opinion on these matters, please express them in person at a meeting tomorrow:

There will a general meeting for developers, Alliance members, other community orgs, and City officials on Thursday, Dec. 8 from 6-8 pm to discuss more amendments to Plan JP/ROX at the Urban Edge offices near Jackson Square T (1542 Columbus Ave).

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