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Six-story apartment building could rise at Washington and Green in Jamaica Plain

Proposed building at Washington and Green streets in Jamaica Plain

Proposed building as seen from outside Canto 6, across from the police station.

A developer is proposing to tear down some old buildings at Washington and Green streets, across from the E-13 police station and put up a 44-unit apartment building that would feature private terraces for some units and a rooftop deck.

Six of the units would be marketed as affordable. Retail space would line the street level on Washington Street.

Mordechai Levin, who has built in JP before - he built the Stop & Shop plaza on Centre Street in Jackson Square - would combine five small lots for the project. In a filing with the BRA, he writes he will work with the three non-profit groups and a hair salon now located at the site to find new locations in JP, possibly in other buildings he owns.

The building would have 24 parking spaces in a rear lot and a 20-bike storage room. Levin says the building should prove popular to the carless set - it's a four-minute walk to the Green Street Orange Line stop, is on one bus route and is near several other routes as well as the Southwest Corridor bike path.

Also:

Building massing has been minimized by the use of full size windows, inset "pocket" balconies, and recessed rooftop terraces. The roof line has a variable height and orientation, and the top floor has a variety of different materials to soften the visual impact of the building and break up its perceived height from both pedestrian and vehicular perspectives.

The building above the Washington Street sidewalk at elevations 12-15' feet will be cantilevered in order to allowing for a wider sidewalk and easier pedestrian passage, and provide a natural shelter for bus patrons. The building will also be set back from the Green Street property line to allow for a wider sidewalk along Green Street.

The first floor has maximum fenestration to provide visually pleasing storefronts and streetscape, and enhance the street frontage.

The building will incorporate "green technologies" by means of an insulated envelope and an internal rainwater runoff system through the use of a green roof and rain garden.

Levin estimates construction of the $18-million building will take 12 months.

3353 Washington St. small-project review application (7.9M PDF).

Proposed view from the south on Washington Street:

3353 Washington St from the south
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Comments

Mordechai Levin is the guy who would prefer to keep commercial spaces in JP standing empty for years rather than lower the rents he's hoping to get. He owns the former Bella Luna/Milky Way space (they left after he quadrupled the rent on them and it's been empty ever since), as well as this property on Washington/Green that has been semi-vacant for years. I guess he figures residential rentals is a better way to get the money he wants because there's always going to be some fool who will pay for a luxury apartment in a non-luxury area.

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..pays off!

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Bought single family houses in a dangerous, arson-prone neighborhood.

Six stories on Washington Street makes plenty sense. I expect it to run all the way to Forest Hills in the next 20 years.

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I'm not saying people are fools for wanting to move into this area, nor do I object to the building height. We absolutely need that kind of density near transit stops. What I object to is the developer and what I predict will be exorbitant rents (I believe this is apartments, not condos). We desperately need more affordable apartment stock in JP. We don't need overpriced luxury units.

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There will never again be affordable housing built in JP without subsidy that is, as pointed out, frequently borne by the rest of the other residents. Each "affordable" unit, by driving up the cost of surrounding market rate units, drives up the market rate for everybody.

Building affordable housing in JP is no longer affordable. The future has only expensive housing and subsidized housing.

JP got too cool for its own good. Every person who moved there in the last twenty years contributed to the eradication of affordable housing.

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Give me a break. And tell me again what great benefits Mr. Levin has brought to the neighborhood from his perch in Brookline. That building has been an empty eyesore for what--fifteen plus years? Meantime he boots another well-loved JP business off on Centre St., raises rents to insane levels, and just bides his time. It's a great strategy for Monopoly--for a healthy, happy neighborhood not so much.

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Suffice it to say your assumption is incorrect.

Maybe Mr. Levin has been a great community benefactor, maybe he hasn't. I enjoyed the bowling too, but I can't blame Mr. Levin as easily as some do. He takes care of his property as he sees fit, and I don't have a huge problem with people doing that. It's just business. Now he's proposing what I think is a nice-looking building in an appropriate location and I say good luck with that.

A healthy, happy neighborhood has a price. Who do you propose should pay it? It seems you think Mr. Levin should subsidize your lifestyle. I have to disagree. I don't think Mr. Levin owes you anything, nor me. Nor do all the folks who cashed in their chips at the JP Real Estate Casino already.

Those who seek a healthy, happy neighborhood in JP have been paying through the nose for it for decades now, and displacing longer-term residents at every step. Taking part of the price out of Mr. Levin's nose instead wouldn't change much for anybody.

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And my lifestyle is muddling along just fine unsubdidized. And yes, it's his property--he has a right to do what he wants with it and I have a right to think that he's a greedy, opportunistic jerk who has no regard for the wellbeing of the neighborhood. I actually do think that landlords have some reasonable expectations of maintaining their property and that includes not leaving them deliberately empty for years at s time or tripling rents. Again, his choice if he wants to be the Ebenezer Scrooge of JP but don't be surprised when people call him on it.

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I don't necessarily agree with this article. However, I think the impact of unlimited "rights" to obstruct any and all changes happening anywhere does need to be considered.

Read and Discuss.

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Yes we. Exactly we. It's called community, which has been very strong in this area for a long time. Perhaps you are not from here, or live here and don't choose to be part of it, but none of that negates the fact that a community does indeed exist here. And plenty within that community will 100% oppose this slumlord as he plans another move that serves no benefit but to line one man's pockets at the expense of many.

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All I see of "community" in JP is a handful of busybodies trying to paint pulling the ladders up after them with rainbow sparkles.

Six stories from Columbus to Forest Hills. Then there will be plenty of housing for everybody. The "slumlord" is at least getting a start on the work to be done.

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...maybe I'd like it.

I think one of the buildings he wants to tear down is a former print shop that a friend inquired about renting just two months ago. It's diagonally across Washington from BMS Paper. They communicated for a few days, but my friend dropped it because he found another space that required less work. And because he heard more about Levin.

Not once during the back-and-forth did Levin or his associate mention the place being up for sale.

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I mean, really...look at the pretty awful South Boston development a few stories down and the one in Brighton. This makes those look lovely and gracious.

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Oh he's *that* guy. I've always wondered who was the greedy idiot who couldn't get two tenants next to WF, of all places, to stay longer than a couple of weeks. Do you happen to know why he closed Caffe Aromi (didn't care for the place, but it was always full of people).

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It's well known these guys quote crazy-high prices on the commercial rentals so they can write them off as a loss.

City commercial r.e. taxes are way too high, so there is no commercial development at the middle class level, weak entry level job growth and business development and the city loses money.

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Mordechai Levin and his (now deceased) partner Stavros Frantzis played a very positive role in our Hyde Square neighborhood, back when it was very unsafe here, and no one would have invested money in something good. They were very careful to find good tenants for their commercial properties, instead of just adding another check-cashing place, or another liquor store, to the neighborhood. This meant buying and fixing up properties, and then waiting until the right tenant came along, even if it took a while. They did the same thing in Roslindale Square, back when no one would go there for anything. I've always been grateful to Mordechai and Stavros, as well as a few other developers, for being early investors in our neighborhood, and having a vision of how things could be, when no one else did.

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Believe that.

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I agree that Mordechai deserves some credit for his work in the old days on JP when things were bad. But, OTOH, his dealings with Bella Luna leave a sour taste (quadrupaling the rent after Bella Luna dumped $80,000 into a new sprinkler system). I'd love to hear what the AAC deal is on Amory, the last time I was in the "other side" of that building almost 10 years ago, Mordachai was encouraging the other tenants to GTFO so he could "renovate" the building. Honestly, I'd love to hear that he ends up coughing up some community benefits here, since that shop has been mostly empty in the last decade other than a brief stint as HQ for some campaign a while back. And sure, it's his right to leave his properties empty to take advantage of the tax writeoffs or however he wants to do it, it's his building. But running his properties that way means that we all have the right to make every community meeting about that.

TL:DR, what's Mr. Levin done for me lately.

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Those commercial spaces on Birch Street where at least one is vacant at a time, sometimes for years? The rotating crappy coffee shop space across from the station? The space vacated by Droubi's at least a year ago? Anyone know?

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6 out of 44 units "marked as affordable" isn't enough, considering all the development in JP lately.

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The article says the cost will be $18 million to build.

There will be 44 units.

If each was "market-rate", that would come to $409,000. Just to build each.

Reduce the cost of those 6 "affordable" units to $275,000. That's $134,000 x 6 ($804,000) whose cost now has to be added to the other 44. So, the cost of those 38 units is now $430,000 each.

Each market rate unit now costs $430,000 - to build, without profit.

How much could the developer profit per unit (considering at least one person on this board says it's a "non-luxury" area?

So, how many "affordable" units make sense to you, and who pays for that?

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So, Levin is going to be the landlord, I assume, and jack up the rents to cover the affordable units.

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that's not the way rents get set...

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And they get their money from the BRA money tree. Stop asking so many questions and submit to this beautiful piece of art. Kneel in front of it and feel small.

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If they would eliminate the non-functional goofy design, then they'd be able to cut down on the per unit cost. This place looks like a miniature copy of the silly starchitecture that MIT put up a few years back. What an expensive eyesore! I'm sure they'll sell to foreign investors who will rent out to trust-funders who are here to smoke their bongs all the way through BU then move back into Daddy's basement after 4 years. No serious working adult would buy to actually live in this place. It looks like a joke!

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Space for 20 bikes in a 44 unit building the developer is proposing as a place for people who bike and take the T seems way low, would need more like space for 88 bikes. But considering this is the landlord who kicked out Bella Luna so he could let the space be dormant for 5+ years, the neighborhood should be very wary of believing anything this guy says.

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It seems that all of these new buildings look eerily alike. Who is designing all of these new buildings, Mike Brady, from the Brady Bunch?

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Or a lipstick. Which Gabor was that?

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Unless the city seizes it by eminent domain he's free to do with it as he pleases, minus arson for profit, etc. Most of his behavior many don't like is the result of things like tax structure, regulations, etc. He and many others will sit on vacant property and use them as tax write-offs, quite a common practice. He operates a for profit business after-all, not a non-profit charity.

Arson for profit (insurance fraud ) in JP and elsewhere was very common in the 70s into the 80s. In no way excusing the behavior, but there were powerful financial reasons why this was the case, and government policies played a big role. Same with so-called real estate blockbusting practices.

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I resemble that remark! I mean....wait.....
"Adrian!!!!!"

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"In no way excusing the behavior, but there were powerful financial reasons why this was the case, and government policies played a big role..."

No, there was only one reason. Greed. And you do sound like you are excusing the behavior.

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I've long suspected, but never understood exactly how this could be the case. If I choose not to live in my house, I'm pretty sure I still have to pay property taxes on it.

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taxes on commercial property are calculated on income rather than resale value.

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I believe you (because you're undeniable), but...What possible rationization is there for that? The comercial property owner is still getting the benefit of city services - the city still has to plow the streets in front. If the building catches fire, the BFD still shows up. The cops still respond if something goes down there.

In fact, one could argue vacant comm re is more likely to attract firebugs and other nasties - and is a drain on city wealth by depressing adjacent prop values. Not taxing them just creates a perverse incentive to allow buildings to moulder.

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I had the same question JeffF had - how is this a tax write-off?

taxes on commercial property are calculated on income rather than resale value.

That's not a write-off. If that statement is true, it's just a different way to calc the valuation of a property, not a write-off.

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Not a property tax write off.

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You had me till you mentioned the Stop n Shop in Jackson Square. That strip mall is a mess. Too much retail, parking and traffic in too little of a space. And the traffic exiting that shopping center creates jams on Centre Street.

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They were awesome.

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