Tenant Group Eyed to Get $150K in Neighborhood Council Deal

Construction is well underway at 161 So Huntington Avenue one year after groundbreaking.

Richard Heath

Construction is well underway at 161 So Huntington Avenue one year after groundbreaking.

Boston Residential Group has completed the exterior of its enormous housing development on the western edge of Jamaica Plain overlooking Leverett Pond. Marketing of the 196 mostly luxury apartments is well underway with slogans like “Where Cattails Meet Concierge ” and “Where Pondside Meets Poolside.”

The developers of what’s now called Olmsted Place Apartments had originally offered to build at their expense a public walkway connector from the 3.5 acre site to the Jamaicaway as a means of settling a zoning lawsuit brought by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council.

The site is the former Home for Little Wanderers. At the February meeting member Ben Day reported that the Architectural Access Board did not give a waiver for construction.

That denial kicked in a clause from the lawsuit settlement that the money that would have gone to the walkway would instead be distributed to the community by the Neighborhood Council.

Council member Dave Baron suggested that a working group be formed to determine criteria for distribution of the $150,000 the developers had set aside for the walk. The matter was assigned to the Executive Committee and Ben Day would chair the working group.

Boston Residential Group has began marketing of its luxury apartments at 161 So Huntington Avenue

Richard Heath

Boston Residential Group has began marketing of its luxury apartments at 161 So Huntington Avenue

At the March 23 Neighborhood Council meeting Kevin Moloney reported that Day had recommended City Life, a tenants’ rights and affordable housing advocacy nonprofit. The proposal is for the funds to be granted in a two-year round of $75,000 per year. Maloney introduced Lisa Owens Pinto, director of City Life, who distributed a five-page proposal to the council members.

City Life proposed a two-year program that would organize tenants in privately owned apartment buildings along the Washington Street corridor to preserve the affordability of lower-rent housing. Two methods would be collective bargaining for fair rent increases or preservation by a non profit social housing agency such as Urban Edge or Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp. City Life would work in collaboration with Greater Boston legal Services. According to its proposal, City Life has an annual operating budget of $685,000.

BGR had proposed to underwrite a public walkway connecting their 3.5 acre site to the Jamaicaway but permission was denied by the Architectural Access Board.

Richard Heath

BGR had proposed to underwrite a public walkway connecting their 3.5 acre site to the Jamaicaway but permission was denied by the Architectural Access Board.

The grant partially would fund the salaries of two existing staff members who would lead this two-year effort.

There was no status report on the working group. Since Day was not present and no other applicants had been recommended, Moloney moved the decision to the April neighborhood Council meeting.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council is an elected advisory board that makes recommendations to City Hall on a range of JP issues, including housing, planning, business openings and park space.

The Neighborhood Council‘s next full meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 28, 7 p.m., at Farnsworth House, 90 South St.

For more on the apartments themselves, see Curbed Boston‘s look inside the project.

Luxury apartments overlooking Leverett Pond as seen from the Jamaicaway.

Richard Heath

Luxury apartments overlooking Leverett Pond as seen from the Jamaicaway.

[Editor’s note: We’ve added context about how the $150,000 came to be in play.]

  • Hugo_JP

    I’d love to know what rationale the Architectural Review Board used to deny the creation of an access point into the park?

    • hydesquare

      And I’d like to know what kind of a fools would trust Ben Day to be in charge of anything; I doubt he could be relied upon to clean out the cat box.

      • Pat Roberts

        They’re all pigs at the trough. Ben Day just chose his favorites, or maybe they promised him something special. They all have such integrity, after all.