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West Roxbury residents vow to stop 21-unit condo building on Centre Street

Protesting a condo building in West Roxbury

Protesters on Centre Street today; CAD Builders is the proposed developer.

About 50 West Roxbury residents gathered along Centre Street this morning to protest a developer's plan to raze a house that predates the Civil War and a pillbox-style abandoned bank branch and replace them with a 21-unit condo building they say is too big, too bland and too wealth-extracting for the neighborhood's main shopping street.

Most stood with signs in front of Jim Hennigan's insurance office, which would be next to the new building. Hennigan said he's not in a compromising mood: He urged residents to work with him to simply kill the proposal completely and to fight for either a smaller building with more commercial space or something completely different: A historic parklet, focused on the house, built in the 1850s for longtime local store owner, postmaster and railroad depot master William Keith, which could provide some green respite on a street that currently has none.

"This is just the beginning of the battle," Hennigan said. "Our objective is to stop this project."

The house, most recently a real-estate office, and the former Peoples Federal Savings Bank branch, on Centre at Park:

Old house and bank branch

CAD Builders of Canton, which was a partner in the smaller condo building down Centre that replaced West Roxbury Motors, across from the Starbucks, and which is currently building a 29-house subdivision at the end of the bird streets off Washington Street, recently filed revised plans for the building, although the only change was in the exterior look of the building, which had met near universal derision of its original design. Otherwise, the plans remained the same.

Although CAD's representative has insisted the building can go up without any zoning review, residents disputed that today. Joe Impellizeri of the Highland Neighborhood Civic Association, said the building would tower over the neighboring one-story buildings along Centre and would be taller than the three-story maximum he said is allowed by the street's zoning. There are also issues with its parking plan, he said.

With just one tiny proposed commercial space, the CAD building will do nothing to improve the Centre Street business district; in fact, by being so awful, "it will extract wealth from the abutters," he said.

In contrast, he pointed to a series of business upgrades along the street over the past couple of decades that have enhanced the street, such as the way the Real Deal and Sugar replaced Steve Slyne's Deli and Hanley's, the way West on Centre replaced Buck Mulligan's and the way the block with the Continental dog-grooming place sprang up - although after a devastating fire in the old Tai Ho that killed two firefighters.

Hennigan addresses residents:

Old house and bank branch
Neighborhoods: 
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Comments

“That was last year,Frank”

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Voting closed 27

What a bunch of frauds, googling cool catch phrases.

This city is lame in many ways still but at least these types of status quo leeches are losing grip on power.

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Voting closed 55

seems quite apt for this ridiculous demonstration of Make Time Stand Still.

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Voting closed 39

Many of the folks protesting likely own homes that they paid a reasonable price for decades ago, and have no interest in current/future generations having any ability to do the same (via expanding supply in a significant way regionally - I'm aware these condos in particular will likely not be affordable to area median income folks).

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Voting closed 52

Probably 70?

Certainly charter members of the "I got mine now eff you" contingent when it comes to housing prices.

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Voting closed 62

Need a source on your data. Also your comment is very ageist.

I am doing this right.

How dare these long term residents oppose an outside developer ramming a large complex into their neighborhood.

Anytime people in West Roxbury have an opinion it's "racist" or "NIMBY".

Anytime people in special neighborhoods have an opinion it's "activism" and "community organizing"

It's getting old.

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Voting closed 74

In a 5 minute walk from my house in Roslindale, I can see 100+ new units of housing built in the past 5 years and that's not even counting the new place up on Belgrade by Exodus. West Roxbury has contributed what, the places out by Home Depot and the place across from Roche Bros? Housing is a city wide challenge that we all need to solve. Try to do your part.

Special neighborhood? I mean, I guess some people like dangerous roads, schools for cheaters and pedophile cops, but it's not for me.

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Voting closed 56

Abutters have a right to protest overbuilt projects... it’s called zoning regulations

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Voting closed 31

The goal is to eliminate any zoning regulations and build as much as possible to convert low density neighborhoods to high density. There is no such thing as overbuilt. Stop clinging to the past and accept change.

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Voting closed 27

lol can't tell if serious. idk about racist but yeah zoning laws are an example of overregulation.

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Voting closed 8

Let the Libertarianism flow through you.

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Voting closed 10

It's not greedy, dumb libertarianism. Because even though there should be no zoning laws, there should still be strong requirements for new construction.

New buildings should still be strictly regulated for construction methods [no crappy 5 over 1] so the buildings are safe and long lasting. And a significant portion of buildings in the city, new or old, should be strictly rent controlled.

The goal is to build like hell while at the same time eliminating real estate as a commodity. Building not for profit, but for the betterment of society.

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Voting closed 23

has made New York City more livable and less expensive. Oh, wait...

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Voting closed 17

Because Brookline Village and Fields Corner have pretty much the exact same housing stock. You can build large anti zoning buildings in either place right?

In WR this new proposal will increase the home values of everyone around there so they aren't protesting this building because it is brining down home values. They are doing it for NIMBY reasons only.

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Voting closed 21

It's not greedy, dumb libertarianism. It's fair, dignified, smart libertarianism.

Elect centrist sociopaths again.

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Voting closed 7

This is a false narrative. Zoning is established to maintain certain standards for a community. Each section of Boston has a look and feel and its zoning preserves that. It does not create exclusivity by race, culture, creed, or gender identity. Zoning is established to protect the investments of residents and their homes, and business owners and their continued service to the community in which they operate.

If people do not like their zoning and want to change it, there is a process for that and one can assemble people and work with the city on change. Zoning is not changed by protest, or due to changes in evolving social norms or politically charged topics. If you do not like the zoning participate in the legal process to change it. In the last 10-20 years several Boston neighborhoods have done just that and set new standards for new structures - residential and commercial - as well as how buildings may be adjusted or upgraded.

Sadly, under Mr. Walsh, directives have been given to the BPDA and ZBA to allow more density to address a housing shortage. By tossing out the zoning and allowing overrides, both the ZBA and BPDA are disregarding standards that are codified in the law. What's the point of zoning if the people set up to safeguard it continuously toss it to the curb?

Yet as each of these new buildings get built, they are having problems getting people to purchase or rent. Simply put, no one can afford them.

Developers have been cleverly staying to a threshold to limit the number of "affordable" units that they are required to create. Their pricing is also well-beyond what the working class people of Boston can afford. There is a call for "more density" because the people building in Boston are not addressing the real need, i.e. housing for our working class.

So the so-called housing crisis is not addressing those most in need of it. This sets the stage for well-heeled buyers and renters, who were the target audience in the first place, not the working class of Boston.

Let's also get away from the false phrase of "affordable housing." As more well-to-do come to Boston, the Average Mean Income (AMI) rises. Published standards for "affordable housing" no longer matches what Boston's working class can afford. The city knows this but is looking the other way. How many of you saw that massive increase in your property taxes this year? This is because the real estate market is out of control and desirability of land in Boston has sky-rocketed. Your property evaluation then soared upward because of the increase in demand and development.

Labeling this as "racist" is itself "racism." The suggestion is that only people of color are low income. That is not the case. People have a right to protect their investments in their homes and neighborhoods. Business has a right to assure that they are in a situation of sustainability to continue operations in their chosen business district. Working class people of all types should be able to have a place to live in Boston. They do not.

Labeling this as "NIMBYism" is also a false narrative. As stated, there is a process to follow to change zoning and to change the look and feel of a community. Social architects that want to use popular buzz phrases to improperly force change by applying improper labels on people is not acceptable.

Follow the law if you want change. Trying to silence people by calling them racist is a part of the problem. It is not addressing the real problem of creating housing for our low-to-middle income working class. High-end condos on Centre Street, or anywhere, is not doing that. "More density" is not addressing the real problem.

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Voting closed 29

And it's removal. https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2019/11/12/how-a-long-ago-map-creat... So I have to disagree. Zoning is a tool of racism.

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Voting closed 12

Zoning as written by the neighborhood is bullshit. I will put 50$ cold cash down right now that none of the people who are protesting are living in houses that actual meet zoning - but were grandfathered in. They designed zoning specifically so that they can keep theirs and nothing new can ever be built.

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Voting closed 18

and builders have a right to ignore entitled neighbors.

USA USA!

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Voting closed 17

You must be so proud of all the development in your neighborhood. So we are pro big developer now? Is that now popular? No thanks.

You said "I mean, I guess some people like dangerous roads, schools for cheaters and pedophile cops, but it's not for me." Generalization and stereotype much? Imagine applying stereotypes to other neighborhoods? You would have another bumper sticker on your car faster than you could say "systemic (insert buzz word)".

I applaud these "community activists" (excuse me for borrowing your language) for fighting to keep West Roxbury a great neighborhood.

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Voting closed 29

That's a lot of dookie to drop in one bowl of cornflakes.

How about you try tolerating change? It's called life. Other people have a right to one, too, ya know.

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Voting closed 11

The 250+ units that are under construction out by VFW Parkway, located between the trailer park and a car dealership. Another approved project is slated to bring 56 units across the street from Catholic Memorial. So that's 300 units in new development approved within the past 2 years.

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Voting closed 20

building in WR has added/is adding over 600 units and many more are planned. Are residents of Boston just supposed to keep bending over and taking whatever developers want to dump on neighborhoods? It would be one thing if developers - and better yet the city departments which are supposed to be working for the residents of Boston - worked with neighboring residents when coming up with developments instead of just building whatever will make the developers the most profits at the expense of the neighborhood itself and the quality of life for those living in the area.

One good thing will be more West Roxbury voters in future elections.

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Voting closed 22

"West Roxbury has contributed what, the places out by Home Depot and the place across from Roche Bros? "

There are several other large construction projects in W. Roxbury - at least look around. (Corner of Greaton & Centre, Spring St. by Star Market, intersection of Spring & VFW Pkwy, intersection of Belgrade & W. Roxbury Parkway, VFW Pkwy near Dedham line, additional apartments near Home Depot, corner of Stimson & Washington, corner of Grove & Washington, and the Heron St. development come to mind.)

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Voting closed 17

It's a good start, Keep Building!

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I guessing we live very close to one another. As a younger resident I 100% support building more housing but I walk by those same buildings and wish that there was more demand for thoughtful development rather than allowing developers to build however will make them the quickest buck. People looking for a condo in the area want private outdoor space. They want amenities for families. They want character and retail/restaurants they want to frequent within walking distance. What we're getting is a bunch of unattractive, often poorly constructed buildings filled with small units with the bare minimum, no outdoor space, and little common space. As with this proposed building, the first floor commercial space is almost always offices, insurance agents, dentists, etc. because developers are too cheap to try to build out for or consider retail and restaurants even though there's a real need. The residents of these buildings won't benefit, the existing neighborhood doesn't benefit, the only people who benefit are the developers. It's not unreasonable to support housing but have issues with how we're going about it.

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Voting closed 14

Dentists and Insurance agencies are the ideal downstairs neighbors, because they close down at 6pm so the people living in the building aren't disturbed. What's criminal about West Roxbury is the amount of standalone banks sucking up otherwise usable commercial space that could be dense retail, restaurants with patios, etc. Shift all the banks into condo buildings (or close them, we don't need that many goddamn banks) and rebuild the street

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Anytime people in West Roxbury have an opinion it's "racist" or "NIMBY".

Anytime people in special neighborhoods have an opinion it's "activism" and "community organizing"

it’s only strange when you pretend that people in Roxbury have the same power to stop new developments that won’t benefit them as those in West Roxbury - in any case the latter are largely insulated from any adverse effects of development

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Voting closed 21

The stated complaint about the project, from the neighbor, is that the affordable housing "will extract wealth from the abutters,"

and there isnt a darn 'special' thing about that neighborhood. Same rules as Dudley Square so get the heck over it or own that you're doing a racism.

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Voting closed 10

Wah wah wah. The people protesting this aren't some brave warriors for free speech - if you look at Facebook or Nextdoor, they'll happily shut down anybody who lives in the neighborhood who's supporting the project with accusations of "not from here" and "being liberal hippy dippies". These people would rather watch dozens of businesses on Centre close and be replaced with blank storefronts or MORE GODDAMN BANKS than allow people they don't like (and again, this isn't even affordable housing, it'll be middle class white millenials) live in "their" neighborhood. These people are the wealthier version of Southie Townies, just without a fun accent.

Adam thank you for the article, have to email my mayor's representative in support again.

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Voting closed 19

Have you been to West Roxbury?

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Yeah, it's more muted and a lot less fun to listen to, though part of that is because they're all trying to act like moving out here when bussing happened makes them classier than their fellow bus-rock-throwers and don't embrace the absurdity of stuff like BABY FUCKIN WHEEL

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Voting closed 4

So what was all that complaining about Quincy blocking the return of Long Island Bridge again?

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Voting closed 14

This is so West Roxbury...
What's next protesting over street names?

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Voting closed 17

West is a step up over Buck Mulligans?

Nonsense.

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Voting closed 17

Not one person in that crowd can maintain an erection

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Voting closed 24

Based on the "keep west rox great" comments I suspect they also suffered electile dysfunction recently.

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Right? Check in on your grandkids, then bust out the blue pills and lube and just (expletive), man. Be happy.

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Voting closed 10

I don’t think “they can’t get an erection” and “they need a blue pill” is going to sway anyone. I didn’t know 15 year old boys read this site. Lol!!!

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Voting closed 11

I'm just here to mock boomers for pissing away a nice Saturday with utter nonsense.

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Voting closed 12

Let's just call this the Quincy effect.

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Voting closed 7