ZBA Approves 3193 Washington St. Development with Condos, Commercial Space

The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a proposed 40-unit housing development at the corner of Washington Street and Montebello Road.

3193 Washington St., now deemed the Stony Brook and located at the site of the former Jackson Glass Co., will contain 40 residential condos and three ground-floor commercial spaces.


Rendering of 3193 Washington St.

The breakdown of the units in the five-story building is:

  • Three studios at 540 to 610 sq. ft.
  • 12 one-bedroom units at 515 to 680 sq. ft.
  • 18 two-bedroom units at 680 to 985 sq. ft.
  • Three two-bedroom-plus-study units at 930 sq. ft.
  • Four three-bedroom units at 1,015 to 1,110 sq. ft.

The developer of the project, City Realty, is designating seven residential units as affordable housing, and has agreed to provide one of the commercial units as affordable to a local small business owner.

The project will also include 20 parking spaces through the use of an automated parking system on the ground floor.

If development proceeds as planned, construction would begin late this year or early next year.

According to Carolyn Royce, a member of the Egleston Square Neighborhood Association’s Housing Committee, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Housing Committee raised issues with City Realty’s proposal because its affordability did not meet the JPNC guideline of 25 percent of units affordable to a household at 65 percent of the annual median income. They also fielded complaints about disputes, some still unresolved, from other City Realty tenants and community organizations.

Other concerns about the proposed development arose as well.

“Although people had different reasons for opposing that development (including that City Realty was the developer), to me, one important issue that may not have had anything to do with the ZBA’s decision [January 10] is simply the way that zoning variances and projects along the Washington Street corridor are going to be handled in the wake of the PLAN: JP/ROX process,” said Dave Baron, an at-large Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council member.

Echoed Royce, “a major issue for the neighborhood associations in the PLAN: JP/ROX area is to have projects honor design guidelines and zoning regulations that buffer the new, higher, denser buildings when they are located next to existing one- to three-family homes.” Setbacks and stepbacks of certain dimensions provide this buffer, and 3193 Washington St. did not initially meet these design guidelines, nor did it meet the existing zoning, she said.

However, in the weeks leading up to the ZBA hearing, “City Realty worked with the abutting neighbors to mitigate the impact of their project by increasing the rear set back and creating a rear step back. For this reason, the ESNA Housing Committee did not oppose the ZBA variances,” Royce said.

Cliff Kensington, manager of acquisitions at City Realty, said the developer was “obviously thrilled” with the ZBA’s decision.

“We have worked hard to engage with the community and incorporate their feedback throughout this approval process, from holding dozens of neighborhood meetings over the last year and a half to making design changes in response to neighbor’s concerns, even after our Boston Planning and Development Agency approval all the way up until the night before our zoning board hearing,” he said.

Lisa Timberlake, Director of Publicity at the city’s Inspectional Services Department, told Jamaica Plain News that, once the city’s plans examiner determines that the developer’s submitted plans match up with those approved by the ZBA, a building permit for the project will be issued.

  • Robert Ellis

    Has ANY project by a private developer met the JPNC guideline of 25 percent of units affordable to a household at 65 percent of the annual median income? Or do they simply oppose EVERY project?

    • David

      Their shtick is to make up rules that make it impossible for any developer to meet the requirements of so they can oppose every project. It is all in the name of the NATION OF NIMBY’S (NON) and their disciples. Now they can pretend to advocate for affordable housing while never allowing any to actually be created. They must just love making themselves feel important at their meetings. Its amusing how regressive the progressives actually are.

    • Of the 158 zoning appeals that have been heard in community meetings with JPNC Zoning Committee since January 2014, the JPNC has recommended approval 96% of the time. There have been only 9 recommendations of denial.

      • Robert Ellis

        How many of those 158 zoning appeals involved construction of new apartments?

      • Vlad Richey

        Thanks for chiming in, Dave.

        I’d echo Robert’s question below.

        What portion of those variance approval recommendations were for new construction of over 9 units (therefore subject to inclusionary zoning)?

        And of those, how many were above the 25% affordable to 65% AMI, as per the JPNC’s guidelines?

        Finally, of those, how many were from privately funded developers (as opposed to tax credit/ non-profit developers or CDCs)?

        Sorry for all the questions but am really curious to get an idea of the approval rates of the kind of projects we’re talking about in this article.

        • I can’t do some of this analysis, as the information on levels of affordability is not something I personally track. Possibly the City might maintain this information? At any rate, it is certainly true that the vast majority of zoning appeals that come through the Zoning Committee involve 2-4 family houses rather than 10+ unit construction. I would say most involve building or adding new residential units, but that is really just my impression. I know the BPDA has tracked (for Plan JP/Rox) how many new residential units have been added in JP each year, so that information is available. As for non-profit developers and CDCs, these tend to be large projects, and I would estimate we have had about 2 a year in JP for the last few years.

          • Robert Ellis

            Dave, thanks for the information.

            How many projects of 10+ units by private developers has your group recommended approval for since January 2014? It shouldn’t take too much analysis as there aren’t that many of those to begin with.

          • I counted the denials because there are fewer of them. Of the 9 recommended denials since January 2014, 3 were for projects of 10+ units.

          • Robert Ellis

            How many projects of 10+ units by private developers has your group recommended approval for since January 2014?

          • David

            the next question for Dave B. once we learn about how many projects and units got denied by the JP zoning council is how many affordable units were lost in that process. In other words if the JP zoning council voted NO to 100 units, they would be voting NO to 13 affordable units by law. That would be a shame now wouldn’t it. thank goodness the City does not always listen to this council and simply approves good projects. I wonder how much real affordable housing was lost because of bad policies implemented by self righteous anti development sympathizers.

          • Robert Ellis

            That’s an incredible insight. It just further puts the lie to any claim that JPNC and other groups care a whit about affordable housing.

            Based on recent City decisions (and the comments here) it does seem that their feigned concern is wearing thin.

          • David

            Dave, how many 10+ unit projects has the JP zoning council approved that did not have 25% affordability? are there any? we would appreciate a response since you happened to chime in. thank you in advance.

          • David

            David Baron, a response would be appreciated. You entered the conversation with some quick and handy facts I am wondering why you have now gone silent? It’s Interesting to say the least…

          • David

            Dave Baron,
            please take time out of your busy day to respond. This is important. If you cannot answer this then you are just proving to everyone that your role on the JP zoning commission is meaningless. You should really do some soul searching.

          • Vlad Richey

            Thanks for the response.

            Given the changing nature of some of the projects coming before you, has the JPNC considered adjusting it’s affordability guidelines? Or at least coming up with a different standard for non-profit CDCS and private developers?

            It seems unfair to hold privately financed projects to the same standards as non-profit, often partially publicly funded projects.

            Even the CDCs seem to be struggling to reach that level and depth of affordability without receiving free public land.

          • I think this would be a reasonable question to raise at an upcoming Housing and Development Committee Meeting. Those folks are much more knowledgeable about housing policy and would be in a position to explain/defend (or potentially revisit) the 25% goal. With the BPDA setting a 35% overall affordability goal under Plan JP/ROX, I assume they conclude developers still want in at that level, but an overall goal like that does allow for more of the kind of flexibility you are talking about (non-profit v. for-profit developers).

  • Hugo_JP

    Bravo. A relatively un-used piece of commercial real estate being replaced by housing and adding 7 new affordable units to the neighborhood.
    (I know some will be upset that “affordable” is not “low income”.)

  • GoatWatch

    Again, we are blatantly disregarding one of the most misunderstood and maligned groups in all of JP just to make room for development. I can’t even blame the developers in this case, most of the land in the Washington Street Corridor is being misused by people, ignoring precedent set hundreds of years ago before Americans or even Native Americans stepped foot on this soil. This all used to be a pasture where goats could graze. Now there’s virtually no grass, the grass that IS available is fenced off, and the goats are forced to go to the arboretum where they are incited into violence by dogs and retarded cats.

    • garaputo

      heyyy goat

      i saw george lee eating grass in the arboretum with the goats

  • Money is Power

    Partisan politics aside.

    Gentrification is here. In an almost cannibalistic nature it prowls. Rising property values. Rising property taxes. Rising food prices. Rising education costs.Rising health care costs. Rising inequity.

    Rising income? Not so much… Maybe for some.

    Welcome to the new normal. Hallelujah Money.



    • Hugo_JP

      I would think that the property owners who bought here in JP 20-30 years ago and now see that the value of their home is 5,6 or 7 times what they paid for it might be pretty satisfied with gentrification.

      • Money is Power

        Correct, a small minority. Increasingly comprised of domestic and international investors. Less normal families reaping the benefits just a bunch of LLC’s.

        Do yah catch the significance of this difference?

        • Robert Ellis

          “Domestic and international investors” are buying now at very high prices from the families who bought 20-30 years ago. Therefore the families are reaping the benefits.

      • Marty

        No, we are not satisfied. It is a cannibalistic system. As I grow older and want an easier space to live in in the city where I have lived most of my life, I can’t find an affordable place to live because even after I sell my modest home in JP., I’m out bid for anything that I can afford. Like many people, my home is my only big asset – I can’t sell it and then use every penny for the purchase of another home, even if it’s smaller. Gentrification works for those who have additional assets and their inflated homes are only part of their portfolio.

        • Robert Ellis

          Have you considered renting?

          • Marty

            have you considered the rents? unaffordable for someone on a fixed income

        • David

          you cant find an affordable place in JP because for decades it has been under built. You should have advocated for more housing all these years. By the way, If it wasn’t for gentrification your wealth that has been created in your “modest home” would be less. looks like you did well after all these years. Who is forcing you to sell anyway? Why don’t you stay in your home longer and in exchange get richer?

          • Marty

            David, you are so uninformed. My home is not suitable for an elderly person and even if it was, I should be able to at least make a lateral move. But whatever. You have found your cause and you’re sticking with it. Good luck – you’re going to need it.

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