Hey, there! Log in / Register

Developer makes concessions on proposed suburban-style apartment complex in Hyde Park, but in the end it's still a suburban-style apartment complex

Newest rendering of proposed American Legion Highway development

Rendering by Heffner Architects.

The Texas developer that wants to turn a wooded hillside on American Legion Highway on the Hyde Park/Roslindale line into a nine-building apartment complex has filed new plans that call for a bit less asphalt, a bit more greenspace and some additional affordable units - along with a substantial reduction in the number of parking spaces.

In a filing with the BPDA last week, the Lincoln Property Co. of Dallas says it will also build a nature trail, open to the public via American Legion. It proposes having the trail end at a public outlook at the bluff that gives Crane Ledge its name.

However, the company acknowledges that creating that outlook would require cooperation from the Jubilee Christian Church of Mattapan, which will continue to own part of the hill after it sells the 14-acre parcel on which Lincoln has proposed its 270-unit apartment complex. The church had once hoped to turn all of its land into a subdivision, but eventually abandoned those plans: it has not said what its current plans for its remaining land are. Eversource owns another major part of the hilltop, a former driving range that never actually opened.

The latest Lincoln proposal reduces the number of parking spaces from 455 to 313 - 48 of which would be on-street spaces available to the public. The company says that the reduction in spaces, coupled with tucking 30 of the resident spaces underneath some of the three-story buildings, rather than next to them, means the amount of the site available as "usable open space" will increase from 53% to 58%. One proposed parking lot will instead become a playing field, the company says.

The company adds that it is changing the nature of the apartments by adding eight three-bedroom apartments - previously there were none - and by increasing the number of affordable units from 31 to 41, or from the minimum city requirement of 13% to 15%.

990 American Legion Highway draft project impact report (151M PDF).
Project fact sheet (1.1M PDF).
Other filings, includes Spanish and Haitian Creole translations.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

I get why people are protesting but we need housing too. I am torn.

up
Voting closed 32

how many people at those protests had even heard of, let alone stepped in Crane Ledge Woods before hearing of this development? Most of it isn’t even accessible to the public is it?

You build densely in cities with smart green space usage to save open space outside of the cities for being razed for cookie cutter suburban developments. Seems like they wanted to cut out the middle man here and raze the urban forests for cookie cutter suburban developments. This is not a criticism of urban wilds either! I love Boston’s parks. Rozzie is wonderfully green. From the Arboretum to the Sherrin Woods, it’s got wonderful wild areas that are open to the public. The developer could build taller and less parking, taking up far less space without sacrificing any future homes.

What’s most frustrating about this is that there is a clear compromise. Build on a much smaller parcel with less parking and asphalt, rehabilitate the woods, and open them to the public.

up
Voting closed 25

What's this doing in a city? Why not create an area of walkable street blocks and mixed retail/housing low-rise buildings that would easily lend itself to replacement with taller buildings should the city grow in the future?

up
Voting closed 51

But it's in a part of the city which is decidedly suburban in character. The nearby properties are a strip mall, single-family homes, and some "low-slung" apartment and professional buildings. "Walkable street blocks" with retail aren't going to work without building even more parking; the bus service on Hyde Park Ave. and American Legion Hwy. won't bring enough customers.

FWIW, I suspect the people living in the surrounding neighborhoods would just as soon not have their quiet dead-end streets connected to an apartment development which would likely have upwards of 500 dwellers.

up
Voting closed 36

But if the city population is increasing and more housing is needed, areas that are more suburban should be gradually and smartly increased to be less suburban.

up
Voting closed 50

out to Hyde Park then I think you'd have a good argument. But nothing about the transit/road infrastructure around this property says this is where we ought to push hard to densify.

And besides that, with a dense development of 4-5 story buildings, the neighbors would legitimately be able to argue that this would be out-of-character with the neighborhood.

up
Voting closed 27

Yes! The ones that want to get the "small town" vibe need to realize that they live in a city.

up
Voting closed 20

Why is the amenity building off to the side? Shouldn't it be near to the middle, easy reach of all dwellings, with a couple of handicap spots and some worker spots to serve both the building and the dwellings as visitor spots?

Why is every building swimming in a sea of asphalt? You get a lot more greenspace if you create a ring road and cluster the buildings better. This would also create a village green/campus that facilitates walking and interaction, with parking on the periphery/backsides of the buildings. This looks like when my kids took monopoly houses and scattered them around their little road rug.

Most trailer parks that I lived in as a kid were better laid out along the lines of access to commons, create greenspace/playgrounds and minimize need for redundant asphalt.

up
Voting closed 48

has built scores of these developments over about 50 years worldwide.

They appear to be successful and know what works for their customers.

up
Voting closed 29

They are using a hot market to minimize their expenses because they can get away with whatever THEY want and nobody lives in these places more than two years, anyway. Check out their other developments and the renter comments about how developments like this drive up rents for year three to push turnover.

Laughable that you think that housing is in sufficient supply that the market drives development. This got spat out of a cookie cutter to maximize profit, lol!

Besides, they have far better wares that are more appropriately urban in other MA cities. Why can't they just build something more like this? Or like this? These are both in areas that many would say are less urban than Hyde Park. Boston needs to demand what Salem and Melrose got.

up
Voting closed 37

2375 1 bdr Salem
2550 1 bdr Melrose

No affordable units.
No 3bdr
Very limited availability

Go fer it Swirly!

up
Voting closed 24

Cookie cutter?

Absolutely!

Unlike all of those "unique" triple deckers found throughout Boston.

up
Voting closed 35

They were designed and built for the local conditions and needs, which is why they continue to serve well.

This development could be in Ohio, Texas, metro Atlanta ... just drop it wherever, who cares if it is actually designed for the climate, for energy efficiency, for locally important anything!

And if you think they are going to charge less at this place, well, I have some "pre-filled" land to sell you along the ocean front ... and I invite you to check out what places rent for these days! When you consider the amenities, you aren't going to find much that is cheaper. You are clearly sheltered from the reality of development, new construction, and rental costs.

up
Voting closed 31

What are your concerns with the energy efficiency and climate suitability of these buildings? I could see complaints about the site layout and location, but there's no reason why they should use more energy than anything else that gets built today.

If they do, I'd blame the local building officials who didn't require efficiency by code and enforce it properly.

up
Voting closed 20

As far as I can tell, it's even denser with less green space and more parking. And it's got the same sort of cookie-cutter design. I don't disagree that dense is good, but the Oak Grove complex is under half a mile at the farthest from the Orange Line. This location is 2 miles from Forest Hills and a mile-and-a-half from the Hyde Park commuter rail stop which no one will use because it's Zone 1.

I don't get why you think a developer wants to maximize turnover; there's really no benefit to it. I don't doubt they jack up rents after a year or two -- you get people in with a sweet deal and then they stick around because moving is a pain in the butt. Even better if they auto-pay from their checking account and don't notice the rent went up. It's basically the Scumcast business model.

Downtown Salem is wayyyyyy more urban than Hyde Park. You may think of Salem as being suburban today, but historically it was an important center of trade.

up
Voting closed 27

Read the comments about all of these developments, once they have been open for a while.

It doesn't save them any money when they charge for moving in/out and can ratchet up the rent when people don't want to move. Furthermore, if they can rent to a new tenant at a higher rent, it is to their advantage to churn people through.

They also don't want tenants to put down roots because those are the people who organize.

up
Voting closed 26

These are sophisticated operators; if people refuse to pay their rent, they're getting evicted in short order. They've got enough money to keep people on staff/on retainer to get evictions done forthwith.

And yeah, they're going to raise the rent if they think they can get someone to pay it, new or existing. But that doesn't mean they gain an advantage from turnover; they really don't care if they're getting that higher rent from the incumbent tenant or a new one.

People say all manner of dumb shit in comment threads including the ones on this site. That doesn't mean they have a clue about anything.

up
Voting closed 22

Wake up and smell the coffee.

up
Voting closed 25

It doesn't save them any money when they charge for moving in/out

Move-in and move-out fees are illegal in Massachusetts, as are any fees that are not spelled out by statute. Meaning a landlord can only collect first and last months' rent, a security deposit not to exceed an amount equal to the first month's rent, and the actual cost of a key/lock change. Almost anything else is illegal, and could result in them paying treble damages (even if a tenant agrees to them, as such an agreement can be seen as taken under duress). So that means no move-in/out fees, no compulsory amenity fees, no pet deposit (unless the sum of the pet deposit plus the security deposit is equal to or less than one month's rent) no application fees, etc.

up
Voting closed 21

All of Boston needs to be zone 1. I live around the corner from Readville and don't use it because it is zone 2 and the bus, the cursed 32, costs less.

up
Voting closed 22

Which level of government runs the commuter rail?

Hint- it's the one that thinks that having zones based on distance rather than zones based on city limits is the best way to do it.

up
Voting closed 16

Maybe if we had a transit system that gets us where we want to go, not only downtown. It was developed to get workers downtown. Not for someone to say go from Hyde Park to Quincy.

up
Voting closed 17

Commuter rail fares are unrelated to city lines, then.

Or the T could extend the Orange Line up the right of way, which would tap into a huge market.

up
Voting closed 16

In case you haven't looked recently, the right of way coming south from Forest Hills is filled with commuter rail and Amtrak tracks and new housing is build right up to the right of way in several places. It is easier to add an Orange Line track along the Needham Branch or increase frequency on the Fairmount Branch than extend the Orange Line south parallel to Hyde Park Ave. Adding a commuter rail stop somewhere halfway between Forest Hills and Cleary Square might be possible, making the massive apartment buildings near the Octopus, and maybe these, TOD.

up
Voting closed 11

Is probably also the leasing/manager's office, so you want it right at the front for prospective tenants to visit. All of the buildings should have handicapped spots and the provision of street parking is probably meant for the visitors.

I think a ring road increases the amount of asphalt more than a road that just goes up the center. The buildings all have parking lots because people are lazy and want to park near their own apartment.

up
Voting closed 23

I don't consider it lazy for a parent grappling with kids and groceries to want to park near their own apartment.

up
Voting closed 26

There are ways to design these things such that parking is still close, but requires less asphalt to access it and doesn't encircle everything.

up
Voting closed 27

A cluster of buildings in a roadless village green/campus setting sounds just like...Charles River Park! Everyone's favorite example of a horrible failure of urban redesign, which turned a vibrant neighborhood with frequent neighbor interaction into a soulless dead zone.

Of course, a design with buildings in a parking lot doesn't solve this problem either.

What does? Putting the buildings on actual streets. And parks.

up
Voting closed 22

That's what the land where the proposed development is sited is zoned for.

up
Voting closed 18

Folks deserve a nice park in their area where they do not have one.
Hyde Park needs the green space. What happened to Green Space Equity.

up
Voting closed 21

Ever heard of the Stony Brook Reservation?

I'll give you that the Sherrin Street Urban Wild, which is about a 10 minute walk from this site, is a bit unknown, but it is a very large green space.

In all honesty, I am torn on this. Boston needs more housing, but it does seem sad that it will come at the expense of this tract. Perhaps they could build highrise buildings like those up American Legion. The massing would preserve open space.

up
Voting closed 20

Blue Hills is literally around the corner from my Hyde Park home.

up
Voting closed 18

Still so much parking and a sea of asphalt. The developer seems committed to bringing a little bit of Texas to Boston. At least they added a path from the complex to the strip mall next door, but guaranteed you’re still gonna get people driving to stop and shop for groceries because why wouldn’t they. You’re already stacking apartments! Get rid of buildings 6, 7, 8, and 9 and make the rest of the buildings taller by another 2-3 stories. Asinine to see this style of car-dependent, suburban development come to Boston in the year of our lord 2022.

Anyone know why Article 80 for large project review doesn’t apply here? It’s over 50,000 sq ft of development and should be within the 1.0 parking maximum zone for this part of Rozzie/Hyde Park.

up
Voting closed 28

I don't have a problem with this type of complex provided it's done right. Primarily, make sure the location and design support walking, transit use, and retail within walking distance.

The 14 bus isn't the most frequent. But maybe if we allow more housing to be built along it, ridership will increase and they can boost the schedule. Especially if the alternative is an apartment complex out along the highway where there's no such thing as a bus.

If I were in charge, pedestrian paths between this complex and the shopping center would be a non-negotiable requirement.

Unfortunately there's not much else to walk to, and a poor street grid, due to the sort-of-parkway nature of American Legion Highway.

up
Voting closed 17

Legitimate question, but has the MBTA actually increased bus service/frequency ANYWHERE in this city in the last decade, let alone in areas that are booming and seeing large population growths? AFAIK the only changes to the bus schedule was when they used COVID as an excuse to cut even more.

up
Voting closed 21

Yes. Several times a year they reshuffle the schedules, which includes adjusting service based on demand. But they generally have a budget for the same total amount of service, so an addition in one place means a cut somewhere else.

However, they recently announced that the upcoming Bus Network Redesign will boost the service level by 25%! This is a big deal. https://www.bankerandtradesman.com/mbta-head-new-bus-map-gives-25-percen...

The other thing they really should do better is extending or creating routes to areas of new demand. But that's hard to do, since any existing service has a constituency even if ridership is really light, and people protest when there's any kind of reduction, while somewhere with no bus service has no riders to advocate for it. That's why we basically have a bus network from the 1920s. Let's hope the Bus Network Redesign addresses this as well.

up
Voting closed 26

it essentially brings many routes back to pre-pandemic headways.

The real meat will be in changing some routing, combining and/or eliminating a few poor-performing routes, and creation of some new routes, such as the Sullivan Square - South Boston route via Congress St.

What I would love to see is creation of some routes like NYC's Select Bus service, with dedicated bus lanes. Those buses have cameras that will generate parking tickets to any vehicles blocking Select Bus lanes. While I am unsure of the legality of bus cameras to be used in Boston, it would be a boon to streets with bus lanes, such as Washington St., for example.

up
Voting closed 19

GTFO. Leave our wooded hillsides alone. Humans are a plague.

up
Voting closed 24

This is very much underutilized land that will house a lot of people. All the talk about the land being unspoiled is nonsense. They aren't bulldozing the Arboretum to put in apartments.

up
Voting closed 42

May all the coyotes, wild turkeys, other birds, etc. chew up and poop on their plans. May the disappearing eco system make Mother Nature cast her wrath upon the development plans.

up
Voting closed 25

With 41 Affordable units with 8 three bedroom units near bus lines and shopping.

Who needs it?

Let them live at the Seaport!
/s

Note: Edited to indicate sarcasm

up
Voting closed 33

Lots of families need 3 bedroom apartments and we need affordable units.

Why live in an area that will be under water soon?

up
Voting closed 24

The highest demand isn't for "family" housing - it is for 1 and 2 bedroom apartments for people "not having 5 roommates".

I'm likely to sell my 3-4 bedroom home and get a 1 to 2 bedroom apartment in the near future because I don't need the space anymore. I'm not alone in this, but I realize that the market for such units is tight so I'm in the research phase. And that tight market means that people stay in too large homes and people rent them with multiple roommates, removing units that are built for families.

up
Voting closed 31

Because the 3/4 bedrooms are filled with roommates. Families live in apartments too. If there were more studios and 1 bedrooms, the 3/4 bedrooms would be grabbed by families.

up
Voting closed 19

But atleast Deerfield forest is walking distance to the West Natick train station. This seems very out of place to me. I'm not convinced anything should be built here. But if they are gonna build arrange the site for maximum wooded space to remain on the side of the site opposite to the shopping mall. And provide a walking path to the existing shopping mall since its right next door. And these structures should be taller, with parking underneath to increase the open space as well as going with a net zero building envelope energy design. In ten years this development will be undesirable as it's taken from the 1990s.

up
Voting closed 23