Builders: Retail Anchors Aren’t Biting for ‘Parcel U’

Southwest view of proposed five-story apartment building for the corner of Ukraine Way and Hyde Park Avenue.

Urbanica Inc.

Southwest view of proposed five-story apartment building for the corner of Ukraine Way and Hyde Park Avenue.

A corner property right across from the Forest Hills T might seem likely to attract anchor tenants like CVS or Walgreens. But the developers behind Forest Hill’s “Parcel U” say companies like that want visible parking. So they’re hoping to attract a local anchor business for the project’s 2,000 square feet of retail.

While neighbors worry about the influx of people and cars cascading into Forest Hills, the calculus is different for businesses. Right now, only about 7,000 people live in Forest Hills, said James Madden, project manager for The Community Builders Inc., which is partnering with Urbanica Inc. to develop “Parcel U,” a skinny tract between Hyde Park Avenue and the train tracks stretching from Ukraine Way down to the Toll Gate Cemetery.

“It’s a bit of a struggling retail district,” Madden told a crowd of about 30 people last Monday at The Woodbourne Apartments.

He said what everyone knows — Forest Hills has a lot of traffic but not yet, at least, a lot of people. But with projects totaling well over 1,000 new housing units on the drawing board, that population is likely to grow quickly.

Across the tracks from Parcel U, on Washington Street, anchor tenant Harvest Co-op has already placed a bet on Forest Hills.

Rendering of proposal for 124 apartments and townhouses and 2,000 feet of retail space at "Parcel U" between Hyde Park Avenue and the train tracks in Forest Hills.

Urbanica Inc.

Rendering of proposal for 124 apartments and townhouses and 2,000 feet of retail space at \”Parcel U\” between Hyde Park Avenue and the train tracks in Forest Hills.

Apartments and Town Homes

The Parcel U project as currently envisioned would add 124 living units, including 76 apartments and 24 condos. The rentals would be in a five-story building at the corner of Ukraine and Hyde Park Avenue. The town homes, meanwhile, would stretch the rest of the way down to little-known Toll Gate Cemetery.

The plans call for a relatively high percentage of “affordable units” —- 44 set at affordable prices or rents, 80 units at market rates. That’s 55 percent of the market rate units, a figure far above the city’s minimum requirement of 15 percent, beating the JP Neighborhood Council’s recommendation of 25 percent and even going beyond the 50 percent affordable target set by neighbors during the Forest Hills Improvement Initiative.

Of course, a lot depends on what “affordable” means, but the Boston Redevelopment Authority sets those figures each year. Current figures would put the rent of a market rate 2-bedroom apartment at Parcel U at $1,765 a month. Affordable 2-bedroom units would be made available at between $530 to $1,059 a month. That’s based on 30 percent and 60 percent of area median income.

Each of the town homes would have its own parking space, but not so for the apartment buildings. The plan envisions 90 parkings spaces for the 124 units total.

‘Canyon Effect’

Among residents at meeting, several objected to the five-story height of the apartment building at Ukraine.

“To have such a large building, it’s going to overwhelm the neighborhood,” said Aspasia Balolas, who lives nearby. “The big city buildings are encroaching on our suburban feel in JP/Roslindale.”

But another resident welcomed the height.

“If we can’t build dense here, where can we?” said Jake Glickel.

Bernard Doherty pointed out that several buildings on the drawing board for Forest Hills reach five stories: The Flanagan & Seaton development, The Commons at Forest Hills on the old Huges Oil site and Parcel U. The Asticou neighborhood leader said it would create a “canyon effect.”

Comment Period Closes Friday

To see details of the project, visit this page on the Redevelopment Authority site where you can review the project and download PDFs of all the details. The most recent document, a 342-page “Expanded Project Notification Form,” is embedded below. It might not be visible on some devices.

Once you’ve taken a look, comments can be made to the Boston Redevelopment Authority on the project’s site page, via email or mail.

Tyler Norod

Senior Project Manager

Boston Redevelopment Authority

One City Hall Plaza

Boston, MA 02201

(work) 617-918-4349

(fax) 617-742-7783

tyler.norod@boston.gov

Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10.