JP Neighborhood Council Housing Committee Says No to 3353 Washington St.

3353 Washington Street. Green St elevation

ISA Architects

A view of the proposed 3353 Washington St. development as viewed from Green Street.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Housing and Community Development Committee unanimously rejected the proposed 44-unit 3353 Washington St. rental development at its meeting last week.

The opposition point of view was summed up succinctly by committee member Pam Bender: “You are doing the bare minimum” for affordable housing and community benefits, she told developer Boston Community Ventures.

The May 10 meeting followed a contentious Small Project Review public meeting April 28 sponsored by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) at which neighbors expressed little love for the project, which would be located at the corner of Washington and Green streets across from the E-13 district police station.

The JPNC may register its own vote on the project at its meeting Tuesday, May 24.

Terry Bruce, representing developer Mordechai Levin, told attendees at the May 10 meeting that the project would provide six affordable units, as well as a roof garden, off-street parking and wider sidewalks.

Alan Benenfeld, a resident of nearby Union Avenue, urged Bruce to reveal the proposed rental costs for the units, a question she had declined to answer at the BRA hearing. After noting that the developer is two years away from construction and that the housing “is for middle-income families,” Bruce said that, with construction costs as they stand today, estimated rents would be:

One bedroom: $1,800 t0 $2,500 per month

Two bedrooms: $2,200 to $2,875 per month

Three bedrooms: $3,500 to $4,000 per month

The developer’s delay in initially revealing these figures drew critique. “You chose this meeting [as opposed to the BRA meeting] to disclose your costs. That shows a lack of respect,” said committee member Kyle Smith.

The rents themselves also stoked concerns from the crowd. Helen Matthews, who rents an apartment next to the proposed building site, aimed her opposition squarely at the proposed unit costs. “I am wholeheartedly offended by this project’s lack of affordability,” she said. She asked whether the developer had applied for tax credits, or whether it would set aside units for Section 8 voucher holders.

“We would have to investigate,” Bruce replied. “This is a lengthy process. We’ve never applied for it.”

Committee member Carolyn Royce considered how the proposed rents fit into the city’s definition of affordable housing. Individuals who make 70 percent of the city’s annual median income could comfortably rent a two-bedroom apartment for $1,540 a month, which tallies $18,580 a year for housing. At 3353 Washington St., however, “a one-bedroom market-rate unit at $1,800 a month means $21,600 [per year] for rent. That means, with all your other expenses, you’d have to earn about $70,000 a year to live there,” she said.

Carolyn Royce ( right )explains what $1800 a month for a one bedroom apartment means as part of total household income.

Richard Heath

Committee member Carolyn Royce (right) explains how $1,800 a month to rent a one-bedroom apartment fits into total household income calculations.

Another resident questioned whether the development would be family-friendly. “The units are too small. What demographics are you going for?” he asked, noting that many singles cannot afford to rent a one-bedroom unit so they take on roommates to fill three-bedroom apartments.

Committee member Red Burrows said he considered it “disingenuous of the developer to ignore the central part of the JP/Rox Plan of higher affordability and more community benefits.”

The five- to six-story height of the proposed building also continued to bother committee members and Union Avenue residents. The height, according to the Union Avenue Neighborhood Association, does not mesh with the existing fabric of their streets.

Jamey Lionette, in his final meeting as chair of the committee, called the proposal “luxury housing with a bare minimum of affordability. Appeasing wealthy people continues to be the attitude of the developer. They say the only way to [build] housing for regular people is to build for the wealthy income level, [but] that is simply not true.”

Lionette said the JPNC supports 25 percent project affordability, with those units targeted at households earning 55 percent of Boston’s annual median income, which is 10 percent below the city’s requirement. “I would be happy to see a tall building for regular people and not upper-class people,” he said, adding that he found it “a little offensive” that the development team did not yet have a plan for applying for tax credits for the project.

Bruce noted that increasing the percentage of affordable units leads to higher rents for the market-rate apartments. “We have to consider construction costs,” she said, adding that the project is “creating housing for moderate-income people. The inequality of the social system cannot be set at the feet of the developer.”

The BRA has extended the comment period for the project until Friday, June 17,  and has scheduled a second Small Project Review meeting for Tuesday, June 7.

Terry Bruce, Boston Community Ventures

Richard Heath

Terry Bruce, representing developer Boston Community Ventures, said the project would provide housing for “moderate-income” people and contain six affordable units, plus a roof garden, off-street parking and wider sidewalks.

Jamey Lionette outgoing chair of the H+CD Committee

Richard Heath

Jamey Lionette, outgoing chair of the JPNC’s Housing and Community Development Committee, called the 3353 Washington St. proposal “luxury housing with a bare minimum of affordability.”

Helen Matthews lives next to the proposed building

Richard Heath

Helen Matthews, who lives next to the proposed building, said she is “wholeheartedly offended by this project’s lack of affordability.”

  • return

    Good. Those rents are absurd.

  • Patricia Roberts

    Fortunately, the Neighborhood Council’s opinions are only considered advisory. With luck, they will be ignored by the city, as they should be. Their posturing is pathetic, though expected.

    • supply&demand band

      No one seems to understand the numbers of how development works with regard to construction figures and bank requirements. Even with a land cost of $0 it is not easy to get to the 25% requirement that the JPZNC requires. The JPZNC needs to get with the program and get over themselves. Voting NO on any project that doesn’t have 25% affordable units is the equivalent of Voting NO on ALL Projects. How many affordable units will get built if we don’t build ZERO Projects? The reality is once you get to 17-18% affordable units, depending on the deal and the land cost, these projects STOP working financially and become marginal for developers. To be a proponent of affordable housing and simultaneously be against a project because the private developer cannot provide you with enough affordable housing to satisfy your soul makes you nothing more than a raging hypocrite Nimby that is literally impossible to please. The JPZNC should be role models not killers of progress. The entire city is watching you folks make the same mistakes that you have been making for the past 30 years and if this is you then you are directly responsible for the housing crisis and should be ashamed of yourselves.

  • stephanie j

    Those prices are affordable housing?? Guess Im missing something. Thank God I was able to get a house from Habitat for Humanity. I could never in my wildest dreams afford those rents. Best of luck Boston renters.

    • Monster

      Those are the market-rate rents. And, high as they may be, they seem relatively consistent with the rest of the JP rental market.

      • Monstrously Capitalist

        The almighty Market is out of control, and serves private interests above public good.

        • Monster

          I sort of agree, although the market is difficult to “control” in any real way given that it’s determined by the decisions and value judgements of millions of unrelated actors.

          For context, JP remains one of the cheaper rental markets in Boston, where the average rate for a 1BD is ~$2,300/month.

          As always, the best way to avoid rising rents is to buy property five years ago.

        • Eric Herot

          The “market” is what you get when you have 100 people trying to rent 20 apartments. You can either decide who gets those 20 units by lottery or by a bidding war.

          Developers would prefer to build more (a lot more, I suspect), but they can’t, because of neighbor’s largely unfounded fears about shadows and the loss of parking.

          Basically JP has a choice right now. It can either protect copious sunlight on all of its streets and nearly endless supplies of free parking, or it can have affordable housing. Right now, the former is winning in a landslide.

          • Monster

            Without exercising eminent domain to build hundreds of Soviet Bloc apartment buildings, there’s simply no way to add enough supply to reduce overall market prices. Maybe price growth will slow slightly, but the era of the $800 apartment is long gone.

          • Eric Herot

            We are not adding apartments at even half the needed rate, so I think making the argument that it could never work based on what we see here today is not rational.

            That said, allowing private developers to build as high as they want certainly seems to be stabilizing rents in Toronto: https://www.reddit.com/r/sanfrancisco/comments/4hrzh4/a_great_summary_of_how_toronto_has_avoided/

    • supply&demand band

      can habitat for humanity give everyone a free house?
      that would solve the housing crisis right there.
      who can we get to pay for this?
      the government?
      I think I’ve seen this movie before.

  • David

    $1800 is exactly what my girlfriend and I pay in JP and in the same ballpark as every other 1 bedroom I looked at. Welcome to the new Boston, I guess.

    • Robert Ellis

      The new Boston is a lot better than the old Boston. Trust me.

  • Brian P Murray

    I was at the meeting, and was really pleased with the civil tone. There was
    plenty of healthy disagreement, but folks were fairly charitable towards one another. If this article was straight journalism and fully represented what happened at the meeting, it would also mention those who supported the project for three major reasons: city needs more supply (otherwise rental market rates will continue to skyrocket), the building (according to a resident whom is also an architect) is beautifully designed and highlights the area well, and height is needed in this area, as new businesses need more new customers to thrive.

    The lack of objective coverage on these issues is pretty disappointing.

    I agree that the rents are !high!, but they DO represent market-rates in Boston these days. Absurdly high rents are generally a function of a housing shortage city-wide. Halting new housing, in the midst of an acute housing shortage, is REALLY counter-productive and is only going to cause rents to go higher.

  • Hugo_JP

    No one should force a private developer to add more affordable units than what is required by the city (or state) regulations.
    If someone is offended, then let them buy the property and find a developer who is interested in constructing an inexpensive and affordable building.

    • supply&demand band

      I’ve noticed recently that City Life Vida Urbana is trying to pressure developers in to doing more affordable and even talking about other properties the developer owns and how they should subsidize those tenants rents even though it has nothing to do with the project. what the hell has this community come to? are the politicians actually ok with these mafia style tactics? Someone needs to have a frank conversation with these folks right away and explain to them economics 101. Do the politicians actually believe that City Life speaks for the community as a whole? They are paid to be organizers and protest. The community as a whole would NOT stand for this if they knew what was really going on and the elected officials would condemn this nonsense if some of the silent normal majority spoke up and told them this is wrong!

  • Malena

    Thank you JPNDC for doing the right thing.

    • supply&demand band

      thanks for helping make affordability a larger issue than it already is. The goal is to never allow anyone else in to JP and you are doing a great job. a family sized condo in JP is now approaching 1,000,000. congrats.

  • Dissatisfied

    I have known Terry Bruce for more than 30 years and I can tell you that I absolutely would not trust one word that comes out of her mouth. And in my opinion her record in dealing with minorities leaves much to be desired. Consider who she is working for. Would you really trust ANYone that Morty Levin would hire?

    • Marty

      I so agree with you. Friends and I ended up boycotting her bakery many years ago because she was so abusive to her employees and customers. We called it, “Daily Old Bread”. One of the pictures above is a gem. It shows the real Terry Bruce.

      • Dissatisfied

        Ha you’re so right. Many a person knows first hand what kind of (in my opinion) horrible person she is and can confirm this. DO NOT TRUST THAT PERSON!!!

  • Eric Herot

    I think Jamaica Plain News needs to give some context to the discussion about affordability targets. The JPNC has never achieved 25 percent affordability in a project except in cases where the city has offered the developer something in return (such as a free building in the case on 3200 Washington).

    The 15% affordability requirement that the city created is a carefully crafted compromise based on the kinds of profit margins developers are willing to accept before choosing to do business somewhere else. Our byzantine process of dragging out negotiations for a year in order to *possibly* extract a single additional affordable unit has already caused Boston to become a market where many national builders (of middle class housing!) don’t even bother doing business because the process is too expensive. For the neighborhood this means new housing is created at a snail’s pace and costs are *extremely* high.

    If the neighborhood council truly cares about adding more affordable units to the pool, they need to advocate for more height (a LOT more). That is the only proven way to make larger numbers of affordable units palatable enough for developers so that they are actually willing to build them.

    • Robert Ellis

      Eric, JP News is unable and unwilling to provide context. It and its staff inhabit a fantasy echo chamber. Research Richard Heath. Basically they are anti-development NIMBYs using the “affordability” issue as a more socially acceptable façade. You are correct in your analysis but have it backwards; the strategy for opposing development is, in fact, to continually insist on criteria that can never be achieved. They know their demands are ludicrous, but “affordability” is not their actual objective.

      • supply&demand band

        I think Richard Heath legitimately tries to report be a fair and balanced reporter but sometimes he lets his “activist” days prohibit him from doing so. It is time all the “activists” start taking responsibility for all the damage they have done over the past several decades and for making JP NOT affordable for working families and middle income people.

        • Brian P Murray

          Agreed. Mr. Heath is a real gentleman; the coverage in this article was undeniably one-sided though.

    • Malena

      sorry, Eric, I don’t buy your comment about developers not wanting to do Boston. Quite the contrary. They are all salivating at constructing in any space available especially in a desirable community as JP. I am not against developers but I am for people having a say in what goes up in their neighborhood. Have you seen the plans? It’s such an ugly box, totally out of place with its surroundings, including being too tall. Also, if it weren’t for people fighting for years against urban displacement and 95 going by where the Southwest corridor is now, then JP wouldn’t be the kind of place you want to be in.

      • Robert Ellis

        Malena, this will be the best looking thing on the block. What “surroundings” doesn’t it fit in with? The cell phone store? The convenience store with quaint hand-painted sign? The lime green and brick 4-story building that houses those stores and hasn’t been updated in 50 years? The hair salon? The building with bricked-up windows? The auto garages? The dead pizza place? The single story brick and metal Pine Street Inn building? The parking lot surrounded by a chain link fence? You must be insane.

        • supply&demand band

          I agree. the building is not the best looking builsing in the world BUT it is way better than all the crap that exists in the neighborhood currently. Perhaps new condo owners will move in and make the neighborhood a better place to be. We forget that most of the JP crime occurs right around this area. New development are great for fighting crime,

          • Malena

            Calling the neighborhood as it exists today “crap” is very disrespectful at best, and let’s face it, racist and classist given who the majority of the people who live there are. My family came to Jamaica Plain when the old guard Irish were leaving in droves like other whites in Boston. They essentially abandoned the cities and so did the City government. They never did anything in the 1970’s because it was “us” who lived here. My parents scrimped and saved and bought a home within 5 years of our arrival in the U.S. (we all worked). “We” saved the neighborhood not the upstarts like you and the like of you who are now saying, oh, gentrification saved a “crappy” neighborhood. Also, you and others on this list I feel are not being honest – who are you representing? what is your stake in these projects? if you really cared about the neighborhood you would be trying to be inclusive. Many of you moved into JP because it was diverse and funky, and tolerant. Now you want it to be of people just like you. And as for us trying to keep the neighborhood to ourselves – let me tell you, every young couple I know of every color, origin, race and sexual persuasion would love to buy in JP and they can’t because they can’t afford it. The people who are buying market rate property are of a certain class and background. They are not even middle class anymore. So essentially, you are advocating for a neighborhood like Beacon Hill and the Back Bay. I am not stupid. Gentrification has been going on for a long time but it boggles the mind how the same people who moved into JP because they liked the Latinos, the Blacks, the artists, the political activists and gays of all ethnicities are now pushing us out. If you like pristine, clean and homogenized, then please move to a white suburb. you’ll find what you want there.

          • Brian P Murray

            Hi Melena,

            You’re clearly very frustrated, but I suggest you might want to reply to individual posts.

            Lumping people together and making assumptions about their motivations and attitudes doesn’t usually work very well, politically nor logically.

            I, for one, am very concerned about the same problem you highlight, and harbor no “lily white” fantasies for JP or Boston. Your accusations are hasty and incorrect.

            If well-intended people don’t stop missing the forest for the trees (like this particular street corner), and don’t get their heads around the big picture, we will be San Francisco in 5 years time (something neither you nor I want).

            Thanks,

            B

          • Malena

            Brian and others – when you call a whole neighborhood with a majority of people of color “crap” it is a form of micro-aggression or “vailed” racism. You don’t see it because you are not in the receiving end of it. No one is trying to keep people out of JP. All of you who are benefiting from the high prices are the ones keeping people out of JP. except for people like yourselves. All we are saying is make it more affordable for people who don’t have that kind of money and that includes people of any color and persuasion. My parents were able to buy in JP because it was affordable. And BTW, we are already like San Francisco.

          • Robert Ellis

            Malena,

            I don’t think they are calling “a whole neighborhood with a majority of people of color ‘crap’.” That is you projecting your own insecurities. I think they are talking about the historical “surroundings” that you think the new buildings don’t aesthetically fit in with, such as:

            –The crappy-looking (sorry) cell phone store (probably preys on the lower-income members of the community)
            –The crappy-looking (sorry) convenience store with quaint hand-painted sign (probably higher priced than a supermarket)
            –The lime green and brick 4-story building that houses those stores and hasn’t been updated in 50 years (probably full of code violations, lead paint, etc.)
            –The hair salon
            –The building with bricked-up windows
            –The auto garages
            –The dead pizza place
            –The single story brick and metal Pine Street Inn building
            –The parking lot surrounded by a chain link fence

            I understand there’s no accounting for taste, but I don’t think it’s a micro-aggression to want to replace or complement some of these “historic” features of the neighborhood with more modern designs.

          • supply&demand band

            I think you are misconstruing what is being said. The word crappy was used to describe the derelict properties and the run down properties in the area that are in desperate need of attention and development. Race is not the issue at hand here. Housing is the issue. If you are against development in the area then yes you trying to keep people out of JP and are most definitely not being inclusive of people that are trying their hardest to enter the JP market (whether it be a buyer or a renter) Who are you referring to when you say “All we are saying is make the market more affordable for people who don’t have that kind of money and that includes people of any color and persuasion?”

            If you were an advocate of affordable housing you would be welcoming investment in to the area by private enterprise and would be demanding that more units are built. If JP had 10,000 units that came online right now the rental and sale market would crash and the flood gates would open and everyone that wanted to, would swoop in and be able to afford a piece of the pie. And it would be much more affordable. (not to mention 1,500 of these untis would be essentially be “subsidized”)
            A huge price decrease due to a huge increase in inventory will be painful for all of us current residents of JP because we would lose value in our homes and condos so I can understand why most people that are already fortunate enough to live in JP don’t want that. We are Nimby’s for that reason solely but to a degree its a natural reaction. But lets be clear: Malena is one of the ones that is benefiting from high prices and keeping people (race, creed, color, orientation, disposition) having nothing to do with it, out of JP. Unless she were to change her stance on more development in the area. And if you truly want more affordable units then encourage more development and roughly 15% of every single building will tremendously help build more “affordable” units for free to the public. The financial burden would be on the developer. As for the market rate units, if you want those to be affordable then build baby build!

          • Brian P Murray

            MALENA,

            I never used the word “crap”, and have in no way disparaged the neighborhood. You are conflating MY posts with OTHERS’ posts. Please read my comments before replying.

            Part of using a public forum is refraining from false accusation, and carefully reading posts before replying.

            I try my best to be respectful, I hope you would do the same.

            Thank you,

            Brian

          • supply&demand band

            why are you pulling out the race card so quickly?
            just because we disagree with housing economics doesn’t make anyone racist. you sound like one of the gems from City Life that immediately wants to make it about race and not actually engage around the issue at hand. The “crap” I was referring to is all the derelict properties in the area that are in dire need of DEVELOPMENT! Like all the Industrial sites that displace NO ONE! Its a perfect opportunity to build MORE housing and get new people in to JP. Middle income working people that desire to move in to the area and cant afford 1,000,000+. And its because of people like you that they cant enter themselves in to the market. Also the City Government that you claim abandoned this area is the same government that has built and maintained Thousands of affordable units in this area without having to extract them from private developers. If your JP is so diverse, funky and tolerant, why aren’t you willing to allow more people in? When your parents saved up to buy their first place, was there anyone out there trying to obstruct their entry in to the market? Were there groups blocking development to keep supply low and prices higher than they should be? Give peace a chance Malena!!!

          • supply&demand band

            BTW, the last 25-30 lines of your post literally makes no sense. it would be great if you could explain all your arguments further..

          • Pat Roberts

            Great, Malena. You’re pulling out all the cards, hoping people will stop disagreeing with you. “Racist,” “classist,” “microagressions”–next, you’ll be “offended” by the disagreements. We’ve lived in JP since 1981, and for most of that time, we and our neighbors (all races and classes) worked hard to make our neighborhood quieter, safer, and with less crime. Having market-rate developers decide to invest in what were then risky locations was part of the path to improvement. You really think that section of Washington Street is so good, no one should improve it?

      • Eric Herot

        You’re equating the building of housing in an urban neighborhood (which will allow more people to live here and walk to work and shop at our local businesses on foot) with a highway project that wouldn’t have served JP in any way at all other than to separate east from west by a concrete swath 200 feet wide full of speeding cars? How are these two things possibly similar?

        I personally like the modern design, but even if I didn’t I think it’s fair to say that the developer spent quite a bit of money to ensure that the look would be an original one. You may not like it but you can’t accuse it of being unoriginal or plain. Personally I don’t want to live in the kind of neighborhood where all creative designs have to be approved by a committee. That’s how we end up with the endless rows of identical, beige, country style homes that are among the reasons I didn’t want to live in the suburbs to begin with.

        But mainly it’s that people want to live here. A lot of people. And there are basically three choices we have for how to respond: 1) Try to get fewer people to want to live here (by making fewer jobs or paying people less), 2) Let the housing become so scarce that only the very rich can afford to live here, or 3) Build more housing, which means taller buildings on smaller lots with less parking.

        And this would actually be a good thing! More housing on Washington Street means more people walking around at night. More people means more eyes on the street, which means fewer break-ins, muggings and hold-ups. It also means businesses along the street have a bigger customer base to sell to.

        What I don’t understand is what, exactly, people are so afraid of? Shadows? Tall things? Are these things really so terrible that it’s worth kicking people all of the poor people out of our neighborhood?

      • supply&demand band

        what kind of place is JP now? all the founding fathers that came to a crappy neighborhood and set up families 40+ years ago are now gone.. Now the haters have taken over and don’t want to allow anyone else in? how about all the young working people that want to buy a slice of JP? what about them and their families? are they not good enough to live in JP?

      • Brian P Murray

        Hi Malena,

        Eric’s comment does reflect reality (there IS actually a point where frustrated developers walk away); recent local facts bear out his argument well:

        The last time local residents opposed a 4-story development in the very same area, (3371 Wash / 197 Green) for reasons similar to 3353 Washington Street, the process was dragged out for 5+ years, and then the owner / developer (Walter Craven) literally gave up.

        Guess what? Still no additional housing 100 yards from a T stop; an area that should have accommodated many, many more units a decade ago.

        What DID the community get?

        affordable units: 0
        units added to the general housing supply: 0
        a dirt lot: 1

        • Keeping It 13.8% for Egleston

          I agree,

          For another example close by, look at Somerville. They just increased their affordable requirement to 20% for developments over 20 units and already multiple planned projects have been put on hold. Trying to shift the burden of affordability entirely onto private developers is not going to end well when they can just move to the next town over.

          Real estate investors I’ve talked to recently have essentially closed for business in Somerville because the numbers really just don’t work for private investors at that level. I’ll remind you that this 20% is still at least 5% lower than what many in JP are asking for from developers in their area.

          It will be interesting to track the flow of new developments over the next couple of years. I’ll bet Medford and Malden will reap the rewards of Somerville’s short sightedness.

          • Sally

            But hey–it did such a great job of keeping Somerville super affordable!

  • Jeremy M. St Marie

    Hi all!

    Having actually been at the meeting, someone stated the same thing. That the JP neighborhood council hasn’t succeeded at all with development negotiations regarding 25% affordable housing and are mainly a figurehead. That is actually not the case. They provided this person with a list of properties in the meeting that have met the quote successfully and proceeded with development.

    They also have sued developers in the community successfully for proceeding with developments without meeting this criteria and without their approval.

    I see nothing wrong with putting developments on hold to allow people of lower income to enjoy them and prevent gentrification. I understand that a lot of people would rather have their areas developed then to think about the capabilities and wealth of others. However, I am proud to be part of a community that does not do that.

    I love people who come in here and claim one or two instances where developments were put on hold because of this without actually knowing the many many facts where that hasn’t been the case and negotiations have successfully gone through.

    I am all for the JPNC’s opinion.

    • Brian P Murray

      Thanks for continuing the conversation. I think Eric does actually have a pretty good handle on the facts, though.

      Additionally (and unfortunately) there was no actual list of 25%+ developments produced at the meeting.

      It seems important to have realistic expectations, based in fact, rather than insisting upon unrealistic demands that have little to no precedent.

      I’d be totally for 50% affordability if I thought it was financially feasible, but at this moment, even 25%, or a full quarter of units, appears to be an unrealistic demand that discourages construction of new affordable and market rate housing (I think we all agree, the city needs both.)

      To your point that the JPNDC has had success in negotiating 25% affordability:

      Here are the recently approved developments in the area with affordability figures (does not account for types of units / square footage; I suppose developments offering less than 15% are probably offering larger units, and those offering more than 15% are probably offering smaller affordable units):

      Example #1) 3593-3615 Washington St (near Forest Hills) developed by Arborway LLC

      283 units; 40 affordable = 14.13% affordable

      Example #2) 3383-3389 Washington St. developed by Peter McLoughlin

      21 units; 4 affordable = 19% (Great!, but unfortunately still in the “teens”)

      Example #3) BSQ II developed by Chris Desisto

      15 units; 2 affordable = 13%

      Example #4) Olmsted Place on S Huntington

      196 units; 31 affordable = 15%

      Total average of recent developments in JP: 15% Affordable

      3200 Washington seems to be an exception, as the City of Boston handed a building on Montebello to the developer at little to no cost. I wish the City could offer a gift this significant for every development. . .

      I really do like to keep an open mind about these things, so do you have any counter-examples of the JPNC’s successfully implementing its own standard? I’m totally corrigible on these matters, but do allow the facts the shape my opinion, rather than the converse. So far the facts I have come across lead me towards Eric’s position.

      To your point that the JPNC has successfully sued developers to gain affordability at or over 25%: as far as I know (I could be wrong; perhaps you could provide more examples), the JPNC has brought one recent suit in 2012, which failed in 2013. The court found the JPNC was not, in fact, a municipal body with any legal standing to bring suit in zoning matters.

      http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2013/06/21/judge-explains-why-jpnc-is-not-a-govt-body-2/

      Until there is a major new outside funding source, I seems entirely imprudent to demand 25% from a developer, when it may not even be feasible for them. In 2015, it cost a developer $438,000 to build a single unit (source: Boston Globe), so I think developers’ profit margins may be narrower than some assume. The days of $200,000 and $300,000 apartments are long gone, so we must operate within 2016 realities, and mitigate housing costs with
      effective formulas that maximize construction of new units, balanced with maximum affordability.

      Until a new major source of funding becomes available (I welcome that day), or someone cites a significant number of successes with the 25% formula, I still prefer this math:

      50 built units at 15 – 18% = 7 – 10 built affordable units,

      to this math:

      50 unbuilt units at 25% = 0 affordable units.

    • Brian P Murray

      Thanks for continuing the conversation. I think Eric does actually have a pretty good handle on the facts, though.

      Additionally (and unfortunately) there was no actual list of 25%+ developments produced at the meeting.

      It seems important to have realistic expectations, based in fact, rather than insisting upon unrealistic demands that have little to no precedent.

      I’d be totally for 50% affordability if I thought it was financially feasible, but at this moment, even 25%, or a full quarter of units, appears to be an unrealistic demand that discourages construction of new affordable and market rate housing (I think we all agree, the city needs both.)

      To your point that the JPNDC has had success in negotiating 25% affordability:

      Here are the recently approved developments in the area with affordability figures (does not account for types of units / square footage; I suppose developments offering less than 15% are probably offering larger units, and those offering more than 15% are probably offering smaller affordable units):

      Example #1) 3593-3615 Washington St (near Forest Hills) developed by Arborway LLC

      283 units; 40 affordable = 14.13% affordable

      Example #2) 3383-3389 Washington St. developed by Peter McLoughlin

      21 units; 4 affordable = 19% (Great!, but unfortunately still in the “teens”)

      Example #3) BSQ II developed by Chris Desisto

      15 units; 2 affordable = 13%

      Example #4) Olmsted Place on S Huntington

      196 units; 31 affordable = 15%

      Total average of recent developments in JP: 15% Affordable

      3200 Washington seems to be an exception, as the City of Boston handed a building on Montebello to the developer at little to no cost. I wish the City could offer a gift this significant for every development. . .

      I really do like to keep an open mind about these things, so do you have any counter-examples of the JPNC’s successfully implementing its own standard? I’m totally corrigible on these matters, but do allow the facts the shape my opinion, rather than the converse. So far the facts I have come across lead me towards Eric’s position.

      To your point that the JPNC has successfully sued developers to gain affordability at or over 25%: as far as I know (I could be wrong; perhaps you could provide more examples), the JPNC has brought one recent suit in 2012, which failed in 2013. The court found the JPNC was not, in fact, a municipal body with any legal standing to bring suit in zoning matters.

      http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2013/06/21/judge-explains-why-jpnc-is-not-a-govt-body-2/

      Until there is a major new outside funding source, I seems entirely imprudent to demand 25% from a developer, when it may not even be feasible for them. In 2015, it cost a developer $438,000 to build a single unit (source: Boston Globe), so I think developers’ profit margins may be narrower than some assume. The days of $200,000 and $300,000 apartments are long gone, so we must operate within 2016 realities, and mitigate housing costs with

      effective formulas that maximize construction of new units, balanced with maximum affordability.

      Until a new major source of funding becomes available (I welcome that day), or someone cites a significant number of successes with the 25% formula, I still prefer this math:

      50 built units at 15 – 18% = 7 – 10 built affordable units,

      to this math:

      50 unbuilt units at 25% = 0 affordable units.

      • Robert

        Brian, I want to give you a round of applause.

        This content is too good to be in a comment section. This should be an article all by itself on the front page!

        • Robert Ellis

          That would go against the entire agenda of the JP News. (Though apparently they are not opposed to taking most of their advertising money from Coldwell Banker.)

  • Luis M Melendez

    Well people the CITY BRA will approve anything they want.
    Housing rate are out of control, there is no such thing of affordable homes any more. The pay scale does not meet most people income.