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Densification settles over Orient Heights

Mike Freedberg reports that developers have bought single-family homes on Gladstone and Leyden streets and plan to replace them with multi-unit condo buildings.

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Building 13 new homes (on net) is entirely sensible within a half mile of the T.

We have a housing crisis in this region. If we do not allow incremental changes in density, then we will never solve the crisis.

***119 Leyden Street is a 7 minute walk (0.4 miles) from the Orient Heights blue line station. 192 Gladstone Street is a 9 minute walk (0.4 miles).


At risk of derailing this thread and rehash old arguments... What constitutes a housing crisis?

Property values going up, thus house prices going up? Apartment owners raising rent to reflect market value for demand? Yes, people may get priced out and neighborhoods will change. This in itself is not an inherently a bad thing.

What makes you think that these multi home buildings will lower housing prices? The current draw to the area of Boston as a world class city (tm) will always create a demand higher than available supply for people of all incomes.

Blame the housing crisis on the MA gov for creating an environment that draws in a bio tech and other high paying industries. These new to the area employees will have more money to afford higher priced housing.

This is a good thing, more revenue and increase of a tax base that returns to the schools and community.

//I now await the inevitable name calling and abuse that the above arguments bring out.


Rising home prices are great for this generation of homeowners, but they are awful for just about everyone else (renters, low income individuals, younger people who by virtue of their age were unable to buy when prices were low 20 years ago, etc.).

We reach a crisis point when rising home prices far exceed salary/wage growth, leading to housing consuming an ever increasing share of household income thereby crowding out spending on everything else (food, healthcare, transportation, education, etc.).

This pattern is not normal. During past periods of economic growth, we also saw rapid growth in home building. The beloved late 1800s triple deckers are an example of this response to new residents seeking jobs in the then booming city.

Unfortunately, building a home today is a particularly onerous process and most land in Greater Boston is zoned exclusively for single-family homes.

Throughout human history, settlements became incrementally denser in response to population growth and housing demand (the single-family became multi-family, the single-story became two-stories). Preserving every 100-year-old building and locking-in single-family zones in perpetuity is an anomaly.

Building 13 net new homes will not alone solve this issue. Governor Baker's Housing Choice Bill will not alone solve this issue. But sitting on our hands and pretending that we can block all new housing without incurring serious costs is not the way forward.



When my son's friend graduated, his family sold a tiny basement 2br condo for north of $260K.

They bought a 4br 2 bath enormous house in Leominster for that.

The issue outside of Boston is jobs more than housing.

It also depends on what you call "outside" - condos are going up everywhere in Medford and other cities close in. You can probably hear the OMG CHANGE TOO MANY PEOPLE MINE MINE GO AWAY screaming all the way in Boston.

The housing crisis is regional, and the decades-long success that close-in suburbs have had in blocking new development (think Wellesley, Newton) means that the pressure to add new housing units gets concentrated on "transitional" neighborhoods in the city. This exacerbates the downstream effects like displacement and gentrification.

There is a housing crisis, or, to be more specific, there is a lack of affordable (by which I mean housing which someone making making the average salary in MA can afford, without paying more than 30% of their income), housing in the city as well as the burbs around the city.

From your words, I get it that you just might be the market-can-do-no-evil type of person. But what do you think happens to people as well as the greater societal good when folks who have done nothing wrong, who are just trying to make it, which includes those working one or multiple jobs, those with low-income, those who are elderly, those who are disabled, are finding less and less options for housing in MA never mind the city proper?

I'll let you ponder that.

So, when you say something like "oh, well, yeah, people may just get priced out and that is too bad but what can ya do", well, that is all fine and well for you, perhaps, but not the folks on the receiving end of the stick.

High paying industries can't be stopped (realistically) from moving into a city as, you correctly pointed out, has its benefits. But what does it say about a society when the tenet of the day is a lifeboat mentality: "I got mine, too bad, screw you?"

What the MA gov can do is truly invest and address and discuss the issue of truly affordable housing. And what some communities can do is to revisit its zoning laws, to allow truly affordable housing, in whatever form, to be built.

There is plenty of stuff out their about the downside of a lack of affordable housing. Here is one take on the seriousness of the matter:


"We shouldn't build new houses to shelter our rising population, instead we should work to ensure the stagnation of the local economy so that nobody wants to move here."

The high-paying jobs available in Boston are the reason for the rising prices. What you need to do is build housing to accommodate the people who move here for those jobs (and the locals who have good reasons to not move somewhere else), rather than just watching them bid up the price of the existing housing stock.

You people are dense for thinking that building multiple unit developments lower housing costs or saves the middle class from moving out of the city. You are even more dense for believing developers when they say more housing is needed near public transportation. Here’s a newsflash....the MBTA is unreliable and pretty much sucks.


To ask for some reference material, facts, stats, etc. before believing these "just so" arguments.


If there's a shortage of food, we try to get more food to feed people. Pretty common sense. Housing is the only area where people contort themselves into thinking that adding more supply when there clearly is not enough is pointless.


They would build housing on the Comm Ave Mall and the Public Gardens. Think about the environment you dense people.

when it comes to density, environment and no open space/green space and trees all we hear are crickets. You can't have it both ways.

Not true. The areas with more density have lower carbon footprints. That makes sense - less car use with amenities close by and more efficient use of land and buildings. So it's exactly the opposite of what you and above commenter claim. The suburbs and outlying neighborhoods are where you see higher carbon footprints because they encourage more car use by design. As for green space, Boston thankfully has a lot and they're not going anywhere.

Look like the Bronx. One section of the City at a time.

This crisis has been going on a long time. When I moved out on my own over 35 years ago I had two roommates because I couldn’t afford to live by myself. When I bought a condo a couple of years later, the developer raised the price by 10% a week after I first saw it. He wouldn’t budge, I bought it. Then when I went to buy a single-family home in a middle-class suburb in the late 80’s every house I looked at had bidding wars. I lost several. I was the winner of the bidding war for the house I currently live in. Now, its value is about 4 times what I paid, but if I want to stay in the same area and “downsize” to one of the nicer condos I will have to pay about as much for it as a house. Oh, poor me. Is it a “crisis” if it has been going on for 35+ years?

Look around Boston -- wherever you see a big tall building there was either a single family home or perhaps a mudflat or a former hillside

In between something from the era of Paul Revere's house*1 --- sited on some probably 1st gen single family property, someone's former "Noth 40ty" -- and a tower such as the soon to be "One Congress" -- a lot has happened mostly in the direction of increasing the population density on the site or the immediate vicinity.

Of course as the economy waxed and waned the building usage changed and the building changed to accommodate the changes in the economy. When the politicians or the bureaucrats attempt to alter the natural ebbs and flows -- they inevitably introduce unintended consequences -- often Bad

This is the time when we [people of Greater Boston] should be enjoying the fruits of general prosperity in the region. Remember -- it will not always be this way -- just ask the people of Buffalo -- once one of the most innovative and dynamic cities in the entire world [circa 1900] where today they will give you a home -- you just have to remove it from the city limits.

*1 from the Revere House web site

The home was built about 1680 on the site of the former parsonage of the Second Church of Boston. Increase Mather, the Minister of the Second Church, and his family (including his son, Cotton Mather) occupied this parsonage from 1670 until it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1676. A large and fashionable new home was built at the same location about four years later.

The first owner of the new two-story townhouse with gabled garret and cellar on North Square was Robert Howard, a wealthy merchant. By the mid-18th century, the front roof line of the building had been raised, which enlarged the garret and replaced the gable or gables with a row of windows. Paul Revere purchased the home in 1770, moving his family here from their Clark’s Wharf residence. The former merchant’s dwelling proved ideal for Revere’s growing family, which in 1770 included his wife Sarah, five children, and his mother Deborah.

Paul Revere owned the home from 1770 to 1800, although he and his family may not have lived here for most, if not all, of the 1780s. After Revere sold the home in 1800, it soon became a sailor’s boarding house. By the second half of the 19th century, the house had become an immigrant tenement and the ground floor was remodeled for use as shops. At various times a candy store, cigar factory, Italian bank, and vegetable and fruit business could be found in the house.