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Developer seeks to ditch some three-bedroom units in Forest Hills development because parents don't want to live right next to train tracks

The developer of a residential complex going up between Hyde Park Avenue and the Amtrak/commuter-rail tracks at Forest Hills south of Ukraine Way is asking the BPDA's permission to let it change plans for six three-bedroom units into twelve units split between one and two bedrooms each.

Urbanica says it's learned from its efforts to market 18 three-bedroom units in earlier phases of the project that there's just not much of a market for family-friendly units right next to what passes as the nation's only high-speed rail corridor. In a letter requesting permission to change the units, it writes:

One of the reasons is that the project is right next to train tracks, which may be a concern for families with small kids.

Although the change would mean six more total units, the basic dimensions and designs of the buildings would remain the same, the company says.

Change request letter (811k PDF).

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Comments

One more effort to just push families out of the city altogether. Newsflash people! If we don't start raising young people in the city there won't be any vitality to keep the city alive. It will just be a bunch of rich old white people .

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There are far too many 3 br units in the city. What makes them expensive is that there are far too few 1 br units and three or four income roommates will outbid families for them.

The answer isn't more 3br - the answer is more 1 br units.

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There are plenty of one bedroom at Metromark. Just no one can afford those rents.

The construction across the Forest Hill T, tonnnes of 1bedrooms. All priced for professionals earning 100k. The massive one on Washington St, also all small unit, starting from $2500 a month.

This is not the rich part of JP! We need more affordble housing, of all types period.

Do not be apologist for these greedy developers!

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and ageist, racist comments, thank you. By the way, instead of postulating on things you know nothing about, why don't you check the public records and see who is actually buying property in the Boston area? You may be surprised, although if you've been paying attention, you shouldn't be.

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without citing specific data, the older a person is, the more financially stable, in general, he or she is. So older people have more wealth in the aggregate. So not a ageist and/or racist comment.

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What are the ageist, racist comments to which people seem to be reacting?

The original poster said nothing disparaging about old, rich, white people; he or she just pointed out that a neighborhood that lacks diversity of age, economic status, or ethnicity lacks a certain kind of vitality

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We need more apartments of all sizes, and I don't think it's a bad thing if one building has more of one size or another.

You know, there are an awful lot of 3-bedroom units in the area already-- many of them occupied by people who would love to have a studio or 1BR but can't afford it, and instead have roommates. A friend of mine was just recently priced out of her 1BR and is now in a 2BR with a roommate, in fact. Building a bunch of smaller units might well attract some folks who would otherwise be renting larger places with roommates but want the advantages of a place to themselves.

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Not sure this is borne out by market data but perhaps if more DINKs and single occupant types buy these, they won't be as likely to buy floors in triple deckers in Roslindale, HP, etc... leaving those for families.

I don't buy the noise argument - plenty of people live along the train tracks in JP and those houses aren't cheap and aren't new so are probably less sound proof.

Here's a $499k condo at Stony Brook which is only a 2 BR.

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Old people, middle-aged people and young people of ALL cultures, genders, skin colors, sexual preferences, financial backgorunds, ethnicities, etc. bring vitality to Boston. You might want to rethink your bigotry toward elderly. Yes, maybe they're hard of hearing, can't get out of your way on the sidewalk fast enough, and/ or are not sexy for you to look at, but they are human beings and shouldn't be discarded as worthless/ bring no vitality to a community just because they're 'old.' Just saying.

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To be fair though, the elderly are largely responsible for the current climate of bigotry ascendant in our government so maybe what's fair is fair?

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bigotry to go around amongst all ages, my friend, not just the "elderly". And you do mean someone over 75, I hope.

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I am elderly myself, and white. I don't think we've done that great a job at running things. Maybe you do. If so, perhaps we can agree to disagree.

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Old people aren't bad, but a city of JUST old white people isn't desirable. We want the "middle-aged people and young people of ALL cultures, genders, skin colors, sexual preferences, financial backgorunds, ethnicities, etc." too because they "bring vitality to Boston."

It's an argument for diversity that includes old people, and against a monoculture of just old white people.

[edited for missing word]

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Voting closed 5

or not the young, in general, can afford to live here and raise a family. It turns out that many cannot and are leaving the state, not just the city of Boston.

What brings vitality to any city, is a city with different income classes not just the attributes that you list. Gentrification is what the issue is not whether or not someone is bi-sexual or not.

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http://www.wbur.org/news/2015/09/10/egleston-square-development

Stop pricing us out from JP.

$500,000 for a 1br? 800,000 for 3? Who are these people???

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$500k: A couple where each half makes $60k/year
$800k: 3 Roommates where each makes $65k/year

It shouldn't be surprising that in a strong economy people are finding ways to afford these homes. The problem is that single people and families aren't able to compete with roommates for 3br units.

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Do you work for the developer? You are contradicting yourself.

The 3 bedroom are family units . how many families can afford that. You argued that 3 professional earning $65k can afford it.

That is exactly what is happening, Profesisonal singles in their 20-30s gobbling up the family size units and pushing out families from the area.

this change is just all about pure greed. They can get more money and pack more people in. Plain and simple

this is not about concern about safety, not about families, not about community or anything. Just $$$$

For the same footprint, he is selling 3 bedrooms for $800000.
He changes it to a 2BR (600000) and 1 BR (500000). That's a gain of 300000. Repeat it 6 times.

Take off the blinders folks.

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Is he somehow concerned that kids are going to, I don't know, climb the concrete wall and the fence on top of it (which will probably be topped with something very deterrent to climbing) and then jump 25 feet down on to the railroad tracks to play?

Or is he concerned he can't make as much money from renting to families with kids?

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It's pretty clear in the article - they are having trouble finding families that actually want to rent there.

" there's just not much of a market for family-friendly units right next to what passes as the nation's only high-speed rail corridor."

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That's what he says.

This is market-rate housing. I'm sure if the market rate came down a bit for those three bedrooms, he could find people to live there.

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So he should take less money? Why not just change the unit types? Maybe an extra few cars and a few more trips generated, but is this seriously so big of a change that this shouldn't be allowed? It's a local developer who has actually done some pretty nice work in areas of the city typically ignored. Who cares if they want to ensure they make a profit?

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lolol...high speed. More like "chugging along." :)

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Once AirBnB is abolished there will be PLENTY of vacant apartments for EVERYONE!?!?!?!?! (sarcasm)

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I bet parents are worried about the noise. Getting little kids to sleep is tough enough when it's quiet. I have an idea: How about he move those 3-bedroom units to other locations in the complex?

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Next to a train, not only to you hear it ,you feel it. The entire building shakes!!

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In new construction, maybe. Our 100 year old house has tracks 20 feet back into our backyard and it's fine as long as the windows aren't open.

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I believe it's the development called Tillia next door. They 1st went on the market in mid 700s. I'm sure they're very nice units, eco friendly, etc, But they back up right to the tracks as these do. Competition is going to fierce as there's a ton of units becoming available in the Forest Hills area. It was a bad concept to begin with now they're trying to get out from a bad investment.

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im one of 3 families that I know that are looking for a 3 bedroom in that area.

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Singles have much more disposable income and ability to pay high rents than a single or dual parent household with kids. If they do have the money, they will live where schools are better.

Plus, being closer to a park/playground is better than having to cross busy Hyde Park Ave. to get to Parkman Playground.

What were developers thinking???

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I guess I don't have any strong opinion about the developer changing the internal layout to more, smaller units, but the particular reasons you float to justify it aren't particularly convincing.

First off, the schools in that part of the west zone are among the best in the city, and if parents are wary of the on-demand pedestrian crossing right at Washington and Walk Hill, they can just walk a few hundred yards south to Pagel on the same side of the street. Sheesh.

(Btw, are these units for sale or rent? It wasn't clear from the story or the attached letter to the Bop-duh.)

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there's housing all along the railroad corridor that has families in it. Drive slowly enough (or sit in the passenger seat, or take the train) and you'll see kids playing, bikes in yards, etc. Maybe it should be rephrased as "people don't want to overpay for family housing right next to the train tracks?" Me thinks the developer should try dropping their price instead of being greedy.

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After seeing this story, I did my usual Tuesday afternoon walk up Hyde Park Ave with my eyes trained on things.

This building is close to the tracks, and there is currently no real buffer (there is a fence, it should be noted, and the building is at a place where the training wall stops at the top of engines.). So, I was seeing their point.

Then I got to 253 HPA. It’s an apartment building probably built in the 60s. Families definitely live there, and the building is as close to the tracks as this one is, but at track level.

Then I looked down Blavon (whose street sign is missing). There is a house, probably three bedrooms, right by the tracks. After passing the soccer fields, sometimes full of kids, I reached Larch Place. There are houses built about 10 years ago there, right next to the tracks, and definitely at least 3 bedrooms.

I usually stop at 391, a condo complex with families, but the weather was nice and I was running early, so I kept going on, past Blakemore and the new housing with families beyond it. After that, the housing stock is older and again with families.

In short, the issue is not families not wanting to live near railroad tracks, it’s finding families for that immediate area, or specifically realizing they would recoup costs by changing the specs. They could have been honest about the reasoning, but they made something up, so I hope they get called out for BSing things.

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As someone who grew up in a 2-bedroom condo, I hate that somehow anything less than a 3-bed is considered a family unit these days.

The developer is, indeed, bullshitting everyone when they cite the train as the reason for families avoiding their units, but when you look at the existing housing stock in the neighborhood, it is almost exclusively condos in triple deckers, which are largely 3-beds. If a family wants to move to the neighborhood, there is ample supply with which to choose (relative to the rest of the market, Boston is still severely supply-constrained across the board).

Meanwhile, it is really hard to find a 1 or 2 bed condo. Based on the info table provided in the project change sheet, there will be no net change in bedrooms, parking, or building size. At the same time, there will be a net increase of 6 units and an additional IDP unit. This seems like an all-around win. And yes, the developer will probably also make more money than they otherwise would have.

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I think it's more like the kinds of families that can afford to compete on price with 3 adult roommates for a 3 bedroom unit are not willing to spend that amount of money to live next to a train, and I think this is actually a legitimate complaint: Families with kids are just less noise tolerant than single adults, so they just aren't going to be willing to pay as much for an apartment with that drawback. As many other commenters on this article have pointed out, Boston already has an oversupply of family units, many of which are currently occupied by adult roommates. We need more studio and 1 bedroom units for those people to live in so that those units are freed up for families.

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Families with kids continue to live along Hyde Park Avenue even closer to the tracks than this development.

And saying that somehow families with children are more adverse to noise than other people is on the cusp of truth. Of course, if the developers were honest enough to say that they want to put more 1 and 2 bedroom units on the market because that is where the demand is, we would not be laughing at their assertions.

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But, again, those families probably cannot afford even the construction costs of these units, let alone their market prices.

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In the past 10 years, 3 bedroom units have been constructed closer to the same rail line (10-12 Larch Place.) One of the units has recently turned over, as in during my walk observing units along the line, I noticed a moving truck on said street.

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on two different lines, even. Used to be three, but one of them is now the Community Path.

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If feel better about living next to the tracks if the T didn't run so many horrible stinking diesels under the WIRES that are already there.

Electrics are also far quieter.

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What a bunch of bullshit writing. "One of the reasons.....which may be a concern...." I knew this shit would happen.

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agreed. what a load of bullshit. Call them out at the public meeting

Parcel U Phase B NPC Impact Advisory Group Meeting
Jul 19, 2018
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
6 Southbourne Road
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

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JP peeps, get organized and call out this BS. More density, more units? We want more in return - Give us more afforddable housing, Cheaper rents, add bike hub, stop cutting down the street trees, no noisy construction and dangerous trucks . Hold them accountable and get more in return for this. We need to stop having these rich developers benefiting from our neighborhood.

Parcel U Phase B NPC Impact Advisory Group Meeting
Jul 19, 2018
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
6 Southbourne Road
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

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Isn't badly needed housing a return in and of itself?

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Not when it only benefits a select few. How many of us JP folks can afford this development?

This is public land, it NEEDS to be 100% affordable.

to those who been around, this was a green space owned by the T. they sold it to pay their debt.

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Who's going to pay for that? Even with land being free construction costs are still upwards of $450k/unit.

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And moreover does it really make sense for the T to be sacrificing money out of its super-tight budget to be subsidizing housing?

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It's not quite that the overall argument is wrong, but assuming that the land cost $0, I would imagine that the units would cost no more than $250k/unit to build.

That said, the T giving the land away is fiscally foolish for the agency. They are not exactly in the position to be giving the land away in the name of affordable housing. Boston has their ordinances on affordable housing, so some of the units will be affordable (though not with 3 bedrooms per unit.)

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I don't think you guys get the history of the lot.It was owned by the T and sold cheap to developers. This was supposed to have a lot of affordable housing. Instead, they are just doing the minimum. We lost the greenspace already, now we are getting more poeple crowding this busy road?

this is just pure greed by adding units and making it less pleasant for the rest of us. why is wrong about fighting for more benefits for the area? Have you seen the prices they are asking for the condos? Please tell me that is targetted for people from the area, not gentrifiers from South End or Cambridge?

You guys are not getting the magnitude of massive change happening here, Get educated on the JP/ROX planning. Washington St, Hyde Park Ave, Egglestone will be filled with large-scale developments. I have long-term neighbors getting priced out.

it used to beSouth End in the 90s, then JP now. Wait till they come for you Waquiot in Roslindale

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How does one achieve more affordable housing without noisy construction and dangerous trucks?

I think there is some overreaching going on here.

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No snark needed. You can achive both affordable housing and safe environment for abutters. this is not a zero-sum game.

If you live around here, you would know how it bad it is the past 3 years with all the construction on Hyde Park ave and around Forest Hills station.

What do we get in return? Higher taxes, higher rents, higher cost of living, more people, jam-packed orange line during rush hour.

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Don’t build anything?

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