Thanks to architects Ed Forte, Michael Epp, and Gert Thorn for their ongoing diligence regarding Chase Bank’s design downgrade of 701 Centre St. without communication with the community, in spite of being located in the midst of a Neighborhood Design Overlay District. This is not the first time community input has “slipped through the cracks” or been waived away for businesses and developers and will not be the last, without community vigilance. As abutters to both 701 Centre and the recently built, oversized condo building at 11 Burroughs St., we are disappointed that regulations pertaining to these projects were overlooked and abutters were not notified of these neighborhood changes. When we made renovations to our house, we were obliged to delay construction for over two weeks until all 80 of our abutters had the opportunity to weigh in on the new design.
We are licensed architects practicing for over 30 years each, long-standing members of the Jamaica Plain community, and were chairpersons or members of the former Jamaica Plain Centre/South Main Street's Design Committee. We are writing to express our disappointment, dismay and disbelief over the recent storefront alterations at 701 Centre Street (former Bukhara, now to be Chase Bank) and to raise concerns over what we perceive to be a breakdown in permitting processes and architectural design review in our neighborhood. As volunteers to the former JPCSMS Design Committee, we were privileged to lead and work with a team of enthusiastic community volunteers who cared about design, were curious about understanding what makes "good" design versus "bad," and were always looking for ways to translate that to the district streetscape. Our design committee always sought to work in close coordination with the city, other community groups and the BPDA to encourage not only adherence to Main Streets design guidelines, but to design guidelines embedded in the city of Boston Zoning Code (many of which are the same, or are generally just good practice). Typically, projects requiring design review under zoning that occurred in the district would be referred to our committee for review, and we would be asked to review any project seeking Main Streets funding in the district.
Boston has always been known as a strong city. A lot of our strength comes from our older residents, who represent a broad diversity of cultures and backgrounds, and who helped to make our city what it is today. That’s why we recently changed the name of the Elderly Commission to the Age Strong Commission. It better reflects the work we do, and the strong Bostonians we serve. We also launched the city’s first-ever Age Strong public awareness campaign.
The start of kindergarten marks the beginning of a child’s educational future and here in Boston we believe nothing should hinder a child’s path to success. That’s why, in 2016, and in collaboration with Boston Public Schools, we launched Boston Saves as a three-year pilot program. Our goal was to build strong career pathways by helping families of BPS kindergarteners save money for their children’s college or career training. Throughout those three years, our efforts worked. We provided children’s savings accounts to 1,600 students from eleven BPS schools for a total of $80,000.
I am writing in support of the development of the Shattuck campus as supportive housing and services. I am a 12-year resident of Forest Hills and remember well the number of unhoused people camped under the Casey Overpass. Three years ago I lost my eldest son to an overdose. For many years he received treatment at the Shattuck Hospital and attended support groups there. With the current epidemic of heroin addiction and the large number of people with dual diagnoses I am strongly in favor of continuing to provide these desperately needed services in my neighborhood.