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Turnpike drivers face months of delays so more rich people can move into the Back Bay

The BU News Service reports a proposed 108-unit condo project next to the Hynes and partially over the turnpike will require about 16 months of construction that will affect traffic and that there will be periods where lane capacity on the turnpike there will be cut by 25%.

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What are the benefits to the builders/owners of going condo instead of apartments?

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It's usually just a question of which is the stronger market at the time that the developer seeks their financing.

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Wait until they take Lansdowne street and deck it over to Kenmore square for an entertainment district without Princess Cheyenne .

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Huh ?

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Jealous much?

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...of whom exactly?

This is just a weird thing to say.

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Muckrake much?

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Great! Even though I wouldn't want to, and couldn't scoots to live there, I'm still glad they're covering up the hole in the city which roars with traffic noise.

I just hope the streetside design is good -- not a perpetual valet and uber zone like certain other new buildings.

And I'm not too thrilled about the 175-car garage. Don't they keep saying our cities have moved away from 1950s car-oriented development?

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I also do not love the idea of a 175 car garage, and agree that's a bit excessive, but I might have some insight into the rationalization (which may make you feel a little better about it): Building on top of a highway is extremely expensive (I've heard construction prices as high as $1,000 - $1,500 per square foot). In order to cover these exorbitantly high costs, the units themselves need to sell for an insanely high price ($1.5k/sqft is high even by Back Bay standards), which means the units need to have *all* the amenities and need to compete for the very wealthiest of buyers. Those buyers tend to own multiple cars, and will pay a premium for a place that allows them to store them. The good news is that they probably don't actually drive them that much. After all the whole point of being downtown is so that you can walk to things. The car ends up being used for weekend ski trips, etc. (at least that's the theory).

Like I said I don't love it, but I know that these decking projects are extremely difficult to make work, so I am inclined to cut the developer some slack. I just wish we had some kind of a program in place (like a congestion charge) to actually discourage people from driving their cars to work every day.

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They don't *have to* build parking to cover their costs. Plenty of expensive buildings downtown have no parking.

They want to build the garage because it will make them more money. And the new residents are able to pay for it and then some.

The rest of us have to deal with the consequences.

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None of those other buildings are built on air-rights parcels and need to span both the Pike and Commuter Rail.

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As bgl points out, this project is far more expensive to build than your typical downtown luxury apartment building. And considering how many air rights proposals have fallen through because they failed to secure financing (which seems to be industry code for "couldn't make the financials work"), I think we have a legitimate reason to be concerned about this.

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But it is important (to me): a percentage of Boston residents live in the city and commute out to jobs in the suburbs. To areas not well served by public transportation. So driving to work everyday is important for some of us.

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Don't worry, your interests are well taken care of. There are literally hundreds of thousands of private, off-street parking spaces in the city of Boston which you can pay to rent, and if you're willing to pay, any developer will happily build you a covered, underground space. Just please, please stop asking developers to build more spaces than they actually want to build, because those spaces sit empty and the rest of us end up subsidizing them.

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How am I subsidizing unused parking spaces in a private building?

I'm with your general point, that in this case the spaces will add value, which will make the project viable, but that will also add tax revenue to the city's coffers.

There is an overall debate about the value of parking and how mandating parking drives up the cost of housing. I'm not wading into that, just what you put in the end of your comment about the rest of us subsidizing the unused parking spaces.

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See my other comment on this thread for the detailed answer, but the general idea is that when you force a private supplier to supply more product than the market demands, the cost of building that product is paid for by the buyers of the remaining units (or the people that cannot buy because the less profitable units were never built in the first place).

You're right that it's not a direct subsidy like, say, public roads, but because housing is something we all need, and rules like this affect projects all over the city, it effectively raises the price of your housing too (because it contributes to the shortage).

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To be joined out here by someone that understands the laws of supply and demand!

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that this

Just please, please stop asking developers to build more spaces than they actually want to build, because those spaces sit empty and the rest of us end up subsidizing them.

is not quite correct. Some developers want to build more parking because they can make money on those spots.

Can you explain how we taxpayers are subsidizing them?

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With the roads that lead to those parking spaces.

And the externalities of traffic.

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Because only in a rare few cases (like, probably, this building, and a few other air-rights projects where 100% of the target market is the ultra-rich) do developers actually opt to build more parking than the city requires. In the other 97% of cases the parking either sits vacant or is rented out to the general public at an amount that does not even come close to covering the cost of its construction. This cost comes out of the building's profit margin, which means that less profitable (read: cheaper) units do not get built, which raises the average price of new housing for everyone both because only more expensive units are built, but also because fewer units are built overall (which contributes to the general shortage of new housing).

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In fact, look what's right next door: https://goo.gl/maps/Trrz5jJo7CH2

Here's an idea: tell the developer they can build an indoor walkway to this garage if they want the project to have parking. Then they won't have to spend the money to build two levels of parking, which should help the poor suffering developer's finances, and the neighborhood doesn't have to deal with 175 new parking spaces.

No new giant garages should be a condition of the deal. If they can't make it work financially, too bad.

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No new giant garages should be a condition of the deal. If they can't make it work financially, too bad.

So basically what you're saying is that it is so important to you that spaces not be built that you'd be willing to leave the highway exposed forever?

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If you set up that false dichotomy, then yes.

However, there are plenty of highway-capping projects that don't include hundreds of new parking spaces. So it is possible.

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"Plenty?" Please list at least one besides the Pru (which was partially paid for by the highway department because it was already in the works when the highway came through).

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The Prudential Center got aid by way of tax breaks, and the Pru has a lot of parking.

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Housing units are good. Providing continuity of the streetscape is good. Burying the highway is great. Adding more people to the mix, who will shop and dine and participate in the community is fab too.

But 175 parking spaces for 108 units? That's too much. That area does not need more congestion, and it is literally adjacent to both the Green Line and the 1/CT1 bus lines. Problem is, if it really is 2 stories, it's hard to reduce it economically, and cutting it in half (remove the ramp, so down to ~100) is pretty tight for a 108 unit building. Possible, but tight.

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Yeah but as far as anti-congestion measures go, undermining the feasibility of highway decking projects is pretty ineffective. Lets use a congestion tax instead. Or maybe just charge market rate for the street meter spaces to reduce "cruising." Both give us MUCH more bang for the buck (after all, parked cars aren't the main cause of congestion).

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You’ll only see those ferraris and rolls royces once or twice a month.

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at $50 each per game at Fenway Park can lead to a good chunk of change.

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Wealthy suburbanites delayed while divided city fixes chasm

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Back bay community forced to tolerate neighborhood sinkhole, associated traffic pollution, so rich people can drive to the Seaport.

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Is there any way we can make the congestion on the Pike permanent? We don't need all of those people driving in to the city...

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It pretty much already is permanent.

The rest of your statement...not even bothering.

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I'd prefer no congestion because there are fewer cars coming into the city.

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At least half the units will be bought by overseas investors to be used as money storage devices.

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As long as it fixes the chasm.

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Isn't that the best possible outcome? Aside from low income usage, but.... please. If they're bought by overseas investors as moderate growth bank vaults, then the 175 parking spaces wont be getting daily use, and they pay to cap over the pike, and the owners pay full-rate property taxes. Win-win-win.

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Housing for people who actually live here is the best possible outcome. Period.

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"Housing for people who already live here .."

If you already live here, doesn't it follow that you already have housing?

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Until they're priced out. I guess I could expand and say for people who live/want to continue living/lived/want to once again live here?

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ChrisinEastie wrote actually. As opposed to people from overseas not living here owning the property.

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I'm not sure any of those people could afford the $1,000-1,500/sqft it's going to cost to deck over the expressway. If we required this building to be "affordable" it wouldn't happen at all.

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Are the rich not important than the plebes? That is the direction we're heading.

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You think this is something new????? I assume you flunked history and never read the news.

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but it does not make it right.

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Your sentence seems to be missing a modifier, so your meaning isn't clear. Regardless, the rich already have influence far out of proportion to their numbers. City planning and public policy should seek to lessen that, not increase it.

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The way you titled that article was ridiculous. It's not like some band of imperious rich people wanting to move is causing this. It is construction, and it will not be all condos, and it will make that area look much better. If it were affordable housing, would you write the same kind of title?
Also, this may surprise you, but rich people are already able to move to Back Bay! In fact, the area was built on purpose in the 1800's to attract wealthy people.

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the original project to fill in the Back Bay was to fill in a stinky bay and, ultimately, to create more land for housing, not necessarily just for the well heeled.

https://historyofmassachusetts.org/how-boston-lost-its-hills/

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More housing in Boston is well worth some turnpike drivers being delayed a few more minutes.

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If MassDOT was smart, they would reconstruct I-90 through Allston, as is being planned, at the same time as this project, since that will also be limiting capacity during construction.

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It will never happen.

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