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West Roxbury developer redoing design everybody hates for Centre Street condos, but some residents say they don't want any more condos on the street at all

Proposed condos at Centre and Park streets

Everybody agrees: Ugh.

CAD Builders says it's heard residents loud and clear: It will be coming back to the neighborhood with a new design for its proposed 21-unit condo building at the corner of Centre and Park streets, where the former Peoples Federal Savings Bank bunker and the ol' Gilmore place now molder.

But at a meeting of the West Roxbury Neighborhood Council's zoning committee tonight, some residents said no matter how nice the new design - even if it's as good as the design of the apartment building next to Lord's and Lady's down on Belgrade Avenue - more condos in the heart of West Roxbury's main shopping district would hurt the business district rather than help it.

The zoning committee took no vote on the proposal, which calls for 33 parking spaces and one small ground-floor commercial space, saying it would await new plans from CAD, which is currently building an actual subdivision of 29 single-family homes, at the end of the bird streets off Washington Street.

Chris Tracy, representing the company, said CAD is "in the process considering and making changes" based on the dislike expressed for the proposed design at a March 8 BPDA hearing on the proposal. "That resonated with our team, that the aesthetics and design have to be improved," he said.

He did not give any specifics, but said that unlike some builders, CAD did not come in with a high number of units to gauge community sentiment only to reduce them during the planning process. CAD, he said, doesn't play "that shell game" and came up with a project he said met the existing zoning of the two lots.

Not so fast, some residents said, expressing their view that the proposal would definitely need approval from the zoning board before going ahead.

May Jew, who lives on Richwood Street, behind the former Gilmore real-estate office, said one example is that the CAD plan shows the land behind the Gilmore house and hers as a side yard, when it's actually a rear yard, which requires more of a setback than CAD showed on its initial plans. Other residents said the developer's traffic study includes access to the parking via both Park and Centre streets, but that CAD eliminated the Centre Street access as a potential menace to pedestrians.

But even aside from the impact on her home, which her family has owned for more than 40 years, is the impact on the Centre Street business district. Centre Street "does not need a canyon of condos," she said. CAD was a partner in the development of a smaller condo building on Centre Street across from the Starbucks.

Joseph Impellizeri of the Highland Neighborhood Association, which re-formed because of the project, warned that putting so many condos in one spot along Centre Street means the business district "could actually implode," because what it needs are more businesses, not residents in cars.

Jim Hennigan, who owns the James W. Hennigan insurance agency on the same block, agreed.

"This is the heart of West Roxbury, he said. "This is the heart of the business district, the commercial retail district. All of a sudden, you put in 22 condo units, it's going to take away from the heart and soul of West Roxbury."

Other residents worried about the environmental impact of all those cars and urged CAD to agree to install only electric-based appliances and heating.

Tony Seroufim, chairman of the zoning committee, said that if he had to vote on the current proposal, he would vote against it. But he urged residents to work with CAD to try to come up with something that would benefit both the developer and the neighborhood, rather than just becoming a neighborhood of no.

"We definitely can do better," he said. "This is the center of the center of West Roxbury. We really need something we can be proud of when we walk by, when our kids walk by. ... Let's come up with something we all really want."

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Is it just me or for theseargumeta no make any sense..like at all.

Am I being obtuse? What's being argued here?

......
22 condos would kill the soul of west roxbury? And if the area needs more businesses, what's that got to do with this building? Doesn't it have ground floor retail?

And wouldn't more businesses bring more dreaded traffic from other parts of Weat Roxbury, Chestnut Hill and Roslindale?

What businesses does the area “need”? Are businesses still opening and not closing?

What do the single family homes a mile+ away have to do with this? why are they waiting on that, and what are the waiting to see?

Why is a resident trying to “come up with something”? is CAD a community development corporation?

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Voting closed 68

Just throwing NIMBY spaghetti to see what sticks.

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Voting closed 25

We are HOF NIMBYers, the best.

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Voting closed 3

These are people who don't want more traffic on 'their street' and don't want poor people living near them. They don't want more residents because some of those people might compete for school spots.

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Voting closed 27

Parking / Traffic Plan - Bad for everyone. Current location has one house with a driveway onto Centre ST and a bank (6 parking spots) with one-way entrance and one-way exit onto Centre ST. This plan removes 2 of 3 curb cuts and reduces the remaining curb cut from 24 ft to 12 ft. The plan sucks for those moving in as well: 33 Parking spots - going in and out of a one-way, 12 ft curb cut (my driveway is only 11 ft) - then backed up into a 12-ft one-way garage entrance. Design could include a reasonable, safe exit onto Centre ST - but that might lower the number of units the builder can cram onto the 2-lots.

The area is zoned for a Neighborhood Shopping subdistrict. A business of 983 sq feet is planned along with 28,000 sq feet for condos. The plan violates zoning limit of 35 feet - builders claim to an exception has a math error.

Finally, it is clearly not about "poor people" - the units will likely be sold for $600,000 - $750,000. Many of the residents in the neighborhood have lived here for 30+ years, buying their property in the 1980's or earlier for $100,000 or less at the time, they aren't necessarily well-off just since their property value has increased.

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Voting closed 13

I was going to counter your argument but I haven't lived here for 30+ years so I guess I should just STFU, right?

The West Roxbury progressive circle-jerk caucus and the West-on-Stormfront crowds over there deserve each other.

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Voting closed 10

Are we really arguing about the size of curb cuts? Anytime a developer proposes anything the NIMBYs nitpick anything that could potentially adversely affect them in the most trivial ways. That drives up development costs and achieves nothing but delaying the inevitable.

Here's the facts. The diversity of businesses on Centre St is awful. It's mostly banks and small shops that struggle to survive. This has gotten worse during the pandemic. Housing prices in the area are entirely too high and we're keeping out young families. Developers have struggled to replace a burned out inhaler factories and abandoned gas stations because NIMBY's voicing vague concerns about parking, traffic, non union labor and any other BS that they think can use to drag out the process.

At some point, people need to just deal with the fact that because you've lived someplace for 30 years, you're not entitled to demand things never change. Boston's outer neighborhoods are becoming more dense and transit oriented because the prices inside the city are out of reach. As a neighborhood, West Roxbury needs to adapt or die because it's not 1980 anymore.

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is definitely not a community development corporation.

I don't think any "poor" people will be living there. At most there will be a couple of "affordable" units.

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Can't architects spring for the AutoCAD Expansion Pack? I am so sick of seeing the same damn ugly building over and over and over again. This crap is going to haunt cities for decades.

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Voting closed 58

This crap is going to haunt cities for decades.

do people feel this way about triple deckers?

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Because the design of 5 over 1's, or in this case 3 over 1, are typically so poorly done that they are highly unlikely to make it past 2 decades before needing to be torn down. Some have even given out before reaching 1 decade.

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To be fair architects don't pay for buildings. They can only design what the owner is willing to pay for, and in most cases that means the cheapest building possible. If someone wants to subsidize higher end designs I am sure most architects would be pretty happy with a bigger budget.

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“Heart and soul of West Roxbury”. Hennigan is the same person leading the disinformation campaign to keep Centre Street a four lane freeway inhospitable to walking. This guy just scares old people.
It’s entirely a losing culture war, which is why none of these arguments are logical. These people care only about keeping “new people” away. But that ship sailed long ago. Every week a house is sold to new people that could care less who grew up here.
They are the noisy death rattle of the bad part of West Roxbury.
They got to Marty on the road diet. He needed to quell any noisy “controversy” for now obvious reasons. These people are going to lose it when they find out the road diet is happening.

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Voting closed 42

I agree that the street is dangerous and disagree with some on the traffic issues. But just because you disagree (as do I) with this particular person on the road diet issue, do not oppose them outright on all remaining issues. Look at this case on its own merit.

I am newer to the city. I am in my 40s. Making an argument about the "noisy death rattle" is making a personal attack. Please look at the issues of this proposed development.

The builder is trying to cram as much property as he can onto 2 plots in order to maximize his profit. As he should for the business approach (but shouldn't ignore several zoning issues). But the community and zoning boards are supposed to review whether the project fits. Will everyone agree on the final answer - no. Are there better alternatives to this site - absolutely.

There are alternatives that would work - look at the units on 37 Hastings (16 units with twice the land - much less crammed) or 110 Park (townhomes). Instead, 21 condos w/ 2 BR's being sold for $600-$750k with less than 1300 sq ft each are going to have to fight in and out of a 12-ft single driveway, battle over a 12-ft garage entrance, deal with who adjusts trash from the single trash chute (no dumpster), argue over limited parking (some 8.5 ft wide, others the bare minimum 7 ft)... This really is not a great condo for the new residents either. It's not built in anyone's best interest. Neither new or old residents will benefit. Only the builder who pockets his cash and walks away.

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Voting closed 7

If memory serves me correctly, the adjacent street is Richwood not Richland.

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Street name fixed, thanks.

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Not sure it's a balanced source, skipping what the 3rd abutter had to say.  If you are going to quote people involved, perhaps you should consider naming yourself as an author.

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Maybe, maybe, the reason Centre is full of empty storefronts and banks, is because there isn't the population density needed to support useful, interesting, local, but high-overhead businesses in those storefronts. Maybe, maybe, if they're always so worried about traffic and cars, the solution to getting more businesses to open in that stretch would be to have lots of people - maybe in some kind of, efficient upwards layout, maybe 20 or so homes in one building somehow - who live right in that stretch, and find it convenient and pleasant to walk a block to get take out, or pick up their laundry, or have their vacuum repaired.

People living in the "suburbs" between spring and washington don't go to Centre for services. (source: live in the WX single family suburbs myself) Parking sucks and there's too many banks and dead-front spots for it to be pleasant to park and walk along, getting all your errands done. You CAN'T even get all your errands done, because the pharmacies are further down and isolated in parking lot islands. Unless you're getting take-out from one of the great restaurants, there's nothing on Centre that it isn't easier to get in a car and go to dedham where parking is aplenty and there's no sense of a coherent township.

Compare Centre to Rozzie Square. One is way, way more successful as a destination and local business center. And a lot of that is the walkability and density of the Square to where people live.

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I don't get your argument. I live in WR and find it very convenient to walk to Roche, CVS, post office, takeout etc. There are plenty of us who are perfectly happy to take a 10-20 min walk over to run some errands. But there are way too many empty storefronts and not enough active, useful businesses. I have no idea why - more and more young people are moving out from the city into the neighborhood and they want to walk to shops, bars, etc. I suspect it's a combo of the commercial space being too expensive and too dated. What I worry about with these new buildings is whether they're really considering the size and build out for commercial space desirable tenants want - restaurants with patios, a TJ Maxx, etc. We don't need more dentists offices and insurance agents, and we certainly don't need more empty space, but that's what we get because developers are lazy and cheap.

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To each their own, but when I think "vibrant commercial district" I don't think of a mega-restaurant or a TJ Maxx-sized department store. I think of places like Centre St. in JP, with interesting businesses like Kitchenwitch, Cafe Beirut, City Feed, the hardware store, Noodle Barn, Casa Verde, Boomerangs, the Real Deal, etc. If spaces are too large, many of the businesses that make a commercial district worth visiting can't afford to move in.

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care about their home, their neighbors, their neighborhood. Everyone should just let out of town the developers reap big profits instead of caring about what residents, who live there everyday contributing to the neighborhood, think. The reason people move to West Roxbury is for the small town feel. If people wanted big city with lots of crowds they can move downtown or, better yet, to New York City. It’s about time the City of Boston puts its residents first over developers profits. That goes for the entire city not just WR.

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If you want a small town feel then move to a small town. These crybabies live in the biggest city in New England yet they are crapping themselves over a small condo building.

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Yes, the only two options for density are West Roxbury and New York City. Definitely nothing in between. This one building would suddenly turn all of West Roxbury into a gigantic Times Square and we'd all be getting hassled constantly by unlicensed Elmos and be forced to eat nothing but Bubba Gump Shrimp. Is that what we want for our children?

You may have moved to West Roxbury for the "small town feel" (though I suspect you actually wanted "small town feel within big city limits" or you would've moved to a small town), but others in the neighborhood probably had a variety of different reasons for coming there.

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This would be good for West Roxbury and its businesses, especially if the City and neighborhood take advantage of the moment and make Centre Street safer and more walkable.

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West Roxbury is so behind in development and growth and that responsibility falls squarely on West Roxbury Main Streets, the neighborhood Council, and even Matt O’Malley’s disinterest in representing West Roxbury.

The heart of West Roxbury?? That is laughable! The “heart” is literally a vacant building, a parking lot, an empty restaurant space and a a couple banks! Come on with that bologna.

We need MIXED USE, PUBLIC TRANSIT ORIENTED, RESIDENTIAL AND RETAIL DEVELOPMENT. But the aging, white population cares more about their traffic — newsflash, this is the City of Boston and NOT Concord!

Fighting a relatively small project like this one offers no incentive to larger, more community centered projects to ever come our way and West Roxbury will be left in the dust. MORE People > More Businesses > More Opportunities > More Community Investment = GROWTH

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Not to JP or South Boston levels, perhaps, but Washington Street and VFW Parkway have seen (and are seeing) a fair amount of development (take the complex now going up next to the Prime car dealership), although it sometimes seems like people who live right off Centre would just as soon pretend those aren't part of the neighborhood.

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The word "everyone" is doing A LOT of work in this headline...

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I mean, even the developer's own proponent said:

"That resonated with our team, that the aesthetics and design have to be improved," he said.

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"This is the heart of the business district, the commercial retail district. All of a sudden, you put in 22 condo units, it's going to take away from the heart and soul of West Roxbury."

Actually you'll have more people who can walk to your businesses. I'm sure the Family Dollar, Marino's, CVS, the hair salons and the local pubs would all welcome the new customers.

(I also hate to think that a derelict old house and a bunker-like bank are the "heart and soul" of the neighborhood.)

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where do these so called architects get there education and licensing?

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