As the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s “Plan JP/ROX: Preserve. Enhance. Grow” kicks off at an open house on Tuesday at Brookside Community Health Center, here’s a primer on Washington Street.
Whatever the name “Plan JP/ROX” means to the BRA public relations office, in reality this is the long advocated and awaited planning process for the Washington Street corridor from Forest Hills to Egleston Square.
Privately built as a 35-mile toll road from Dudley Square to Providence in 1806, Washington Street became a free public way in 1857. The focus of the planning process is a 6,724 foot segment of this thoroughfare from the Casey Arborway to Egleston Square.
Washington Street from the parkway to the Egleston crossroads is a checkerboard of light industrial and automobile-related uses, particularly between the parkway and Green Street. This long stretch dominated by English High School and its playing fields is the center of enormous development as the area sheds its century-long railroad-dependent industrial life to become residential. (This could be said to have begun in 1978 when the huge Boston Gas Company building and truck bays were transformed into the new home for Jamaica Plain High School).
From Green Street to Montebello Road the checkerboard shifts to a tree-lined street of new row houses and older multi-family buildings
Shift the board at the Forest Hills Street traffic light and the streetscape changes again into light automotive uses among multifamily housing, many with with attached storefronts.
The corridor is then anchored by the Egleston Square business district, flanked by the largest and oldest apartment houses on Washington Street, at the corner of School Street.
The “Grow” part of the study name is already happening: $178 million in new housing has been approved by the BRA in the past two years between the Casey Arborway and Green Street. It’s a total of 440 units of new housing.
The largest housing development in the history of Forest Hills is going up – and up and up — at The Commons at Forest Hills Station. The $95-million, 88-unit complex stretches over 2.8 acres nearly flush with the new parkway.
Approved but not yet under construction is the $80-million, 132-unit housing development two blocks away at numbers 3521-3529 Washington St. on the old Flanagan and Seaton motorcar site at McBride and Burnett streets.
A third but much smaller development is planned to be tucked in among light industrial buildings at 3383-3389 Washington Street. Also approved but not yet under construction, this is a $3.5 million development of 21 apartments.
These days, much neighborhood and city-wide attention is being paid to a proposal for apartments and retail at 3200 Washington St. Some residents, most notably a cadre of young activists, continue to push for higher levels of affordability at the 70-plus unit development.
For a deeper dive, here’s a link to the BRA’s web page for Plan JP/Rox.
Several local residents with planning backgrounds maintain a Facebook page devoted to Washington Street.
Jamaica Plain News covers changes along Washington Street in detail. Here’s a link to our special page devoted to the topic.