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Board rejects apartment building near Ashmont T station for lack of parking, being too big for its lot, too tall for the neighborhood

Rejected proposal

Nope.

A five-story, 26-unit apartment building proposed for 1809-1813B Dorchester Ave. in Dorchester was rejected today because it failed to get enough votes from the Zoning Board of Appeal.

The board voted 3-2 to support Mark Kennedy's plans to replace his current commercial painting building with an apartment building with no parking spaces, but state law requires at least 5 votes for a proposal to pass. Board members Mark Erlich and Sherry Dong voted against.

Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo, who has voted against three recent proposals in Roslindale with no parking, did not cast a vote after Erlich's and Dong's no votes doomed the project.

City Councilor Brian Worrell, several nearby residents and the St. Marks Civic Association opposed the proposal because the building would have no parking and because they said it was too tall and had too many apartments.

"This is a crazy proposal," Sydney Miller of Edwin Street said. She said the building would tower over the two- and three-story buildings near it and questioned where all its residents would park.

Kennedy's attorney, George Morancy, however, called the proposal "a true TOD [transit-oriented-devleopment] project," because it is just a five-minute walk from the Ashmont T station. He added that because of the "shallowness" of the lot, the most parking spaces that could be fit in the building anyway would be four - and Kennedy decided that because of its proximity to Ashmont, it made more sense to use that space for 2,200 square feet of retail space.

He added that four of the units would have been rented as affordable, rather than the three required by the city.

Greater Ashmont Main Street supported the project because of the "commercial revitalization" of the site it would mean.

The BPDA board had approved the proposal in November.

1809-1813 Dorchester Ave. filings.

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Comments

We are so screwed when it comes to housing in Boston.

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Voting closed 138

The continued NIMBYism of this board is an embarrassment.

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Voting closed 102

these are my only thoughts on this matter

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Voting closed 71

Only having 4 affordable units of 26 total is a failure, too.

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Voting closed 52

We have NO affordable housing units out of NO total units because the board approved NO housing here.

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Voting closed 18

n/t

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Voting closed 94

That would be 1000% affordable

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Voting closed 24

#DIV/0!%

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Voting closed 41

Just because an apartment is built to a more modest standard, and labelled affordable, doesn't mean a professional like me won't end up living in it and paying a high rent on the books or off the books.

I came to Boston in 1994. I became one of those gentrifying pests in 1999. Nevertheless, up until 2010, I was living in modest ratty apartments the entire time, bidding the rent up juuuust a little bit each time.

There is only one way out of the affordable housing crisis: MORE HOUSING. And the way to do that is to make it law that any time the homeless census in downtown Boston finds even one person sleeping rough, all parking requirements are null and void and all height limits commonwealth-wide are raised by one floor.

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Voting closed 23

and 22 households who would have lived in the market rate housing now competing for existing housing in the area

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Voting closed 16

Proponents of affordable housing are not getting much in return for their advocacy. Many times, only 10% of the units are affordable. There are buildings in Jamaica Plain and Quincy ( on rapid transit lines) that offer one deeded parking spot per unit, yet residents of the buildings are parking on the street. It just goes to show us that people DO bring their cars for use outside of the city, for transporting children, shopping and traveling outside of their immediate neighborhood.

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Voting closed 20

I think people are becoming very distorted in their view of housing. I don't think the majority want a city devoid of all types of housing. today the focus is only on lower income housing as more and more middle class are either forced out of the city or moving out because of the attitudes our city government current uses to get elected, ignoring existing residents mainly middle class families

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Voting closed 19

Too good.

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Voting closed 25

4 voted yes, 2 voted no. Five is needed to proceed but the chairperson didn't vote after the two no votes 'doomed' the project? Wouldn't her yes vote have been the fifth vote?

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Voting closed 54

She abstained instead of voting no. If she wanted it to proceed, she could have voted yes.

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Voting closed 27

Vote was 3-2 plus her abstention. After 2 voted no, her vote was moot.

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Voting closed 17

How DARE it be slightly taller than nearly all the surrounding buildings! WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY!

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Voting closed 76

ALONG Dot Ave. -- a major thoroughfare -- and only a five-minute walk to the Ashmont T stop.

This is exactly where buildings like this should be.

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Voting closed 98

Far more of them get built out by a highway, since there are no NIMBY neighbors to obstruct and delay the project.

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Voting closed 16

The existing structures seem to be closed. It is too bad that this project can't be worked out. The building next door has a small 4th story for a roof deck.

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Voting closed 36

The current single story building houses four or five construction/contracting companies.They've always looked closed because they are not open to the public and do not want to appear to be.

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Voting closed 22

We need to start building up, not out. Don’t worry, we won’t become New York overnight.

The only way to begin to solve the housing crisis (and the resulting long commutes with sprawl) is to start building taller residential buildings, especially along major thoroughfares and subway lines.

Change is constant.

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Voting closed 37

Seriously?

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Voting closed 32

it made more sense to use that space for 2,200 square feet of retail space.

Is there any data on how many of these developments touting retail space as a benefit to the community actually get filled? I feel like I see ‘retail space available’ signs in these all the time.

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Voting closed 77

"Hmmm, let's see. I can squeeze in 4 parking spaces for which I will receive zero money, OR I can build 2200 feet of retail that I can rent out every month. Sounds like a benefit to me!"

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Voting closed 44

I feel like A LOT of those retail spaces are vacant, and that was true long before COVID.

Though if I’m remembering correctly, tax write off?

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Voting closed 42

You lost me there

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Voting closed 39

Losses can lower your tax burden whether it be stock market losses, business losses, real estate losses, etc.

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Voting closed 25

People make this claim all the time about vacant stores, but I don't see it.

You don't claim a loss simply because your store is vacant and you got no rent. Put another way, not getting income is not a loss.

I'm no accountant, so maybe I'm missing something.

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Voting closed 23

These are all things that can be itemized for a rental.

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Voting closed 22

...the claim is that a vacant property can somehow claim the loss of rent as a tax loss. I say no. All those things you point out are deducted whether it's rented or not.

At the end of the day, you take all your revenues (rent, sales, etc), subtract all your expenses (taxes, depreciation, maintenance, admin, etc), and the result is income/loss. Not getting rent for a property is not a write off, it's simply less revenue. There's a difference.

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Voting closed 26

Also, when you’re paying out more than you’re taking in. That’s a loss.

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Voting closed 19

Also, when you’re paying out more than you’re taking in. That’s a loss

That's correct, but again, the claim is that the non-payment of rent is a deduction, or write-off. That is, some believe it's a line item in deductions. It's not. There's a difference, perhaps subtle to some, but it's a big difference.

Maybe, as the result of lost income from the non-payment of rent, the owner will incur a net loss. Maybe not. That's totally different from what people are claiming.

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Voting closed 22

Here.

If a landlord has a large enough real estate portfolio, the tax advantages of keeping the property vacant can outweigh the benefits of monthly rent from a tenant.

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Voting closed 33

Yet, it doesn't explain why. Looks like it's something specific to real estate. Hey, look at all the crap Trump has pulled with his real estate and taxes.

Thanks again.

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Voting closed 22

it’s not really clear as to what the reasoning is. My initial comment was actually because I remembered seeing it mentioned here years ago, in a conversation about Boylston St. I’m sure more detail is out there somewhere, but I don’t care enough to look that hard.

That said, we all know developers will take advantage of every loophole possible to make a buck.

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Voting closed 19

Go on loop net and look for commercial space space listings, nobody is trying to fill them. Its another empty box. All this diversity and no good retail?.Dorchester should look like Jackson Heights or Greenpoint in NYC, instead it looks like downtown nowhere post 1960' s riot.

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Voting closed 18

Any street in the City of Boston with stores and buses on it should be zoned for this type of building as of right.

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Voting closed 18

in this neighborhood I am glad the board voted against this. Five stories is too high and the developer knows this. It's yet another disingenuous trial balloon sent up so that the developer will look reasonable and cooperative when coming back with a proposal for *only* four stories. I've been active in the community for decades and can't tell you how many times I have seen this.

And the previous comment about revitalizing retail space is spot on. Take a walk from Ashmont Station to Mather Street and look at the "first floor retail opportunities" that sit vacant or not active or have been filled with hair and nail salons. The currently under construction St. Mark's Place at King Street is going to have that same problem.

The people in this area are not anti-housing. They are leery of oversized projects and developers who don't give a crap about the neighborhood once the project is done.

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Voting closed 85

It should be 10.

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Voting closed 109

This!

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Voting closed 38

I never get this argument. What actual problem is there from having one building on the block being slightly taller?

And in terms of empty retail, if the choice is between empty retail and 4 parking spaces, why would the parking spaces actually be better for the neighborhood?

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Voting closed 91

My problem isn't retail vs a very small number of parking spaces. It's the fairy tale of imaginary retail establishments just waiting for a space to become available.

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Voting closed 49

At the least, if you built this, you'd have at least 26 people living within a few feet of said retail establishment. That's not too shabby!

Anyway, even if it sat empty forever, why is that a reason to oppose building 26 badly needed housing units?

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Voting closed 67

...even though it is about the same size as the buildings in close proximity that are 100 years old." - you.

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Voting closed 51

I live here too, and I disagree. Dorchester Ave is a main street and should be much denser than it is currently. Are you going to wait until people are camping on your sidewalk acknowledge the housing crisis? Boston has room for 200k more people, because they used to live here in the 50's. If you grew up during the growth of the suburbs, your idea of urban density is skewed toward empty.

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Voting closed 84

Most development seems to be geared toward the luxury housing market not the average renter. I have no problem with additional housing and know that affordable housing for both renters and owners is in short supply. Parking will always be an issue because if even if they can and do take the T many people still have cars. And if they can't park near the building where they live they will park on the nearest side street. If you live between Dot Ave and Adams Street you know that many of the existing three-deckers on the side streets don't have driveways and often have six cars per building.

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Voting closed 35

"I have no problem with additional housing and know that affordable housing for both renters and owners is in short supply."

....just not near me

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Voting closed 17

"Luxury" is an overused marketing term. The entire Boston area has a total housing deficit. If they build them, people will come. Prices will come down.

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Voting closed 58

many of the existing three-deckers on the side streets don't have driveways and often have six cars per building.

sounds to me like we should be adding more resident only parking, charging for parking permits, and capping the number of permits per household, especially in denser neighborhoods with T access.

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Voting closed 17

Yes, 10 people used to live in houses and now maybe one or two people. We need to ban single family zoning, a tool of past racists.

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Voting closed 35

Really?

Care to show the proof on that, specific to Boston? I'll match low density Mattapan versus the high density South Boston Seaport against anything you have to offer.

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Voting closed 54

Take a little stroll over to Milton to see how inclusive single family suburbs are

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Voting closed 16

Edit - There should be a link to "The Color of Law" but it's not showing up when I see the post. Maybe you see the link? Adddam!

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Voting closed 51

They are leery of oversized projects and developers who don't give a crap about the neighborhood once the project is done.

And that's word for word out of the NIMBY textbook.

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Voting closed 91

It seems you are fortunate enough never to have been lied to and been stuck living near crappy development with no recourse once the developers have moved on.

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Voting closed 35

What, in your mind, would the developer have to do to make you believe they would not build a "crappy development." What would you need to see?

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Voting closed 36

sit vacant or not active or have been filled with hair and nail salons

racist much?

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Voting closed 66

My thoughts exactly. Don't posit businesses usually owned and staffed by immigrant women of color as being just as bad as an empty storefront.

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Voting closed 24

I have bigger concerns with all the churches. I realize that some beautiful old structures are used everyday, and have historically housed many faiths, but my neighborhood is full of poorly maintained buildings that get used twice a week tops.

And Charter Schools! They approved plans to raze the top of Popes Hill, to expand NHCS. Schools are empty 80% of the time and Dorchester has many underused school buildings.

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Voting closed 22

In my experience, some churches and schools are very willing to rent/donate their space off-hours for other programming. Others are quite unwilling, citing concerns about having potential overlap between the unbackgroundchecked masses and minor children being in the building. Like, I get it, but I’ve also worked at many nonprofits that provide various programming for kids and adults at all hours, including various programming that is pretty much drop-in where we wouldn’t have registration information on the adults, and it’s just usually a non-issue.

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Voting closed 20

As someone who used to rent in this neighborhood and could not find anywhere affordable to buy, but would love to move back, you shouldn't get to veto badly, badly needed housing NEAR TRANSIT just because you got there first and you are contributing to climate change and the missing middle class of the city.

The state is investing billions of capital dollars in the Red Line and the bus system and it's going to be wasted because a handful of people don't like looking at modestly-sized new construction and elected officials are too cowardly to do the right thing and say no to them.

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Voting closed 22

"but cars, but parking!"

I wonder if people will still be saying that when Boston resembles Venice cuz the sea rises...

IMAGE(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51984989279_c08a6e2b8b_n.jpg)

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Voting closed 77

To all the underground MBTA lines? They can’t even run normally when there’s a touch of wind forecast for next week.

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Voting closed 60

I think my point was more... maybe if we focus more on getting people to dump cars in cities and use transit, we might be able to delay this some. Not much, but some.. and it definitely would be far better than add more cars...

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Voting closed 29

You should be supporting remote work vs people having to commute into the city. Also, China produces twice as much greenhouse gases as the US. A few cars less in the city is like pissing into the wind, but maybe it helps you sleep at night?

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Voting closed 16

Let’s ignore the hole in the hull for the little bit of water over the deck.

You are the problem.

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Voting closed 15

Sure, it's ME that's the problem for pointing out the utter stupidity of you attempting to shut down any discussion of environmental change that's not "China."

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Voting closed 13

zoning board officials who look at everything from a car-centric perspective, and a height/density perspective, that contradicts the city’s policy of creating more housing. Mayor Wu has either got to put in place a BOA that reflects and responds to city housing policy, or completely update the zoning code for more density and less parking requirements. Or both. This board consistently kills projects approved by the BPDA, which is the city planning board. How many sets of rules should there be? At least the BPDA is comprised of professionals who work on projects for months before sending them to the zoning board. Then at the zoning board good projects are killed by political appointees who listen to five minutes of angry neighbors who oppose everything because all development is bad. I’d say it’s time to replace the board, which is nothing more than an obstruction to housing creation. Are you listening Mayor Wu? Do you care?

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Voting closed 18

Call 911!
Clearly, someone has kidnapped the real zba and installed imposters. In my experience, the real zba doesn't care about holding people to the legal height restrictions and building/lot sizes.

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Voting closed 53

is that its ugly as every other development in Boston.

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Voting closed 16

I only count 4 stories in the picture accompanying this post.

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Voting closed 20

The 5th story is set back, and in the picture is just a very faint outline. (I had the same question)

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Voting closed 24