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Roslindale's annual snowplow display comes to an end; Belgrade Avenue garage to be replaced with condos

Rendering of new Belgrade Avenue condos

Proposed new building.

The Zoning Board of Appeal this week approved plans to replace a run-down garage on Belgrade Avenue at Amherst Street in Roslindale with a three-story, eight-unit condo building with ground-floor commercial space.

The garage has long been home to the neighborhood's annual snowplow display, with numerous pickups and other trucks equipped with plows lining Belgrade Avenue across from St. Nectarios for months at a time.

At a hearing on Tuesday, board Chairwoman Christine Araujo, who normally likes to dive right into such issues as the number of units and their square footage, started by asking attorney John Pulgini how long his clients, Justin Iontosca of Jamaica Plain and Dan Mangiacotti of Dorchester, had owned the garage.

When he responded maybe six or eight months, Araujo sighed: "Oh, that's a relief!" because it meant she would no longer have to deal with complaints about that plows taking up all the spaces on that side of Belgrade.

Pulgini said all of the condos would have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and would range in size from 1,076 to 1,358 square feet.

The building would have 12 parking spaces, which Pulgini said seemed more than adequate, given the site's short walk to the Needham Line commuter-rail stop and slightly longer walk to Washington Street, where buses go down to Forest Hills. There is also a bus stop right in front of the site for buses coming out of West Roxbury.

But Araujo and one Amherst Street resident said that might not be enough. Referring to the commuter rail, Araujo said, "I'm all for transit-oriented development if the transit is affordable, but I'm not sure that transit is affordable to everybody." The resident said that despite the commuter-rail stop and bus lines, Roslindale is really a driving community and he said he's worried that two bedrooms per unit would mean two cars per unit as well.

Board member Mark Erlich voiced slight concern that the proposed curb cut for the site's new parking was listed as 14 feet wide, compared to the 10 or 12 feet that is more normal. "Right now, the entire lot is basically a curb cut," Pulgini said, adding, however, that the developers will go with whatever BTD recommends.

The board approved the project subject to design review by the BPDA. Araujo said that, with the exception of the residential building on Roberts Street next to the train tracks, developers have been proposing interesting buildings in Roslindale that are "more respectful" to their neighbors than the boxes being dropped into other neighborhoods. "We do not want to see another box dropped into a neighborhood where it's unnecessary," she said.

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Comments

The transit is not affordable to many. It shouldn't cost $214/month to take the faster Commuter Rail when the slower parallel bus/subway service costs $90/month. I can't think of a worse form of de facto socioeconomic class discrimination.

We need to re-zone Roslindale Village to 1A (along with Hyde Park, Readville, and all the West Roxbury stops). This will drive up ridership to the point that OLX makes sense.

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Nowhere in Boston is too low density for Rapid transit. Theres more suburban places in Dallas with rapid transit. I hate that that argument even gets tossed around. Maybe back in 1980 but since then we've added 140k people into 48square miles. And it's growing.

This is the third most densely populated major city in the US behind only NYC and San Fran.

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Are you really claiming that West Roxbury and that part of Roslindale are really in need of “social justice?”

Signed, a guy who pays $90 a month for a T pass and lives on the other side of the Square.

Are you saying that Washington-Beech doesn't exist? What about the Spring Street Apartments next to the West Roxbury Star Market? etc. etc. etc.

Contrary to what you might think, the "suburbs" are no longer a monolith of white, middle-class families -- as 45 evidently learned after employing an extensive strategy of race-baiting.

Also, since you claim to hold a monthly pass, have you ever taken a look at the people on the bus? Take a careful look the next time you ride -- I'll guarantee that you'll notice a substantial difference from the types of people you'd find on the Commuter Rail.

But as you mention race (as opposed to my reference to economics) I will say that those opposed to Roxbury Prep would benefit from this. Spring Street is elderly housing, so not too many commuters.

Way faster take the bus down Washington and switch in the Square to the CR than all the way to Forest Hills and the Orange. Even faster would be to modify a route to cross over at the Westie Parkway to Belgrade.

You are talking a 5 minute savings that is cut into by both the time it takes to walk the length of Corinth Street in addition to the fact that service frequency on the commuter rail is, even in the before times, far worse than Orange Line service frequency. Think about it. You miss the 7:58 train at Roslindale, you had to wait for the 8:28. If you stayed on the 34, you'd be at work by the time the next train came.

Alas, this is all about upper middle class people claiming to be poor and using poor people to get something. Of course, were the fares to be lowered, the riders advocating for this would be quite disappointed with all the seats on their homebound commutes being filled with new riders, but whatever.

You seem to think that there are conveniently no businesses in West Roxbury that depend on low-wage labor, such as restaurants. Maybe you think it isn't so bad to force predominately Black and Latinx employees onto inferior, infrequent bus services?

Oh, and it's not like there are any hospitals or nursing homes along the 35 and 36 bus lines, which run parallel to the Needham Line in West Roxbury. So much for the sacrifices made by overworked nurses and underpaid CNAs during the COVID crisis...

There's a good reason why the cash-strapped MBTA is not proposing service cuts to any of the bus lines that serve the Forest Hills-Roslindale corridor...

That you are using the service workers of your neighborhood as an excuse for the white color folks of West Roxbury suffering from being “forced” to pay so much for the commuter rail when the much more frequent and cheaper bus option is literally a block away.

Frequent and cheaper bus option

That ends up easily adding 30-60 minutes onto a trip time, which you seem to be leaving out. When I was in Rozzie and missed my train at Bellevue it was almost always faster to just wait the 40 minutes for the next CR than the bus.

On the most recent 37 schedule, the T says it takes 20 minutes to get from Centre and LaGrange (one block from the West Roxbury commuter rail stop) to Forest Hills. Let's say it takes 15 minutes from the Parkway (I think 10, but I'll give it another 5 minutes.) Then a 6 minute wait for the Orange Line (could be less, and yes, could be more, but let's go with what is scheduled.) 15 minutes later, you are at Back Bay Station, thus making that 36 minutes. What makes it better is, again, it is a more frequent service- buses every 10 minutes, trains every 6 minutes, versus a half hour per commuter rail run, all at peak times.

Signed - Belgrade ave resident. Oh, and they need to tear down the building with Stash’s pizza as well.

Fast comes at a cost, who should pay for the convenience?

Who may not be able to park all of their Vanagons and trailers right next to their house. Alas.

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But this looks like a great proposal.

One thing, though. The bus stop is not right in front of this property. It’s a good 50 feet away.

The bus stop is literally at the lightpole in front of the overflow funeral parking lot. It's not ON the lot in question but is maybe 10 feet, not 50.

The adventurous investigative reporter may do a little driving around to find where the "snow plow display" moved to. It's still in Roslindale. Hint. Kinda, sorta, East Roslindale.

True, but they've yet to start spreading them out up and down the street. Guess we should take another look in a month or so.

It's odd to me that the rationale for the parking is that commuter rail and buses is economically infeasible, but owning 1-2 cars isn't?

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Vehicles per capita by neighborhood, per https://www.trulia.com/research/people-per-vehicle-map/:

Mattapan: 0.39
Jamaica Plain: 0.46
Roslindale: 0.51
Fort Point: 0.57
West Roxbury: 0.62
Dedham: 0.68
Needham: 0.7

Doubt would-be residents of that building would need two vehicles per household: they're sitting on several buslines, the commuter rails, and next to Rozzie Square.

"In dense, transit-rich cities like New York and Boston, vehicle ownership is more closely linked to population density than to income", per https://slate.com/business/2019/05/maps-car-ownership-income-population-... , which suggests that even if the families moving in could afford a second car, they probably wouldn't buy it.

Plus, the current building is kinda sketch. As usual, I vote for more neighbors.

Bedroom-to-car parity as a design consideration... huh.

...huh.

You love to see it.

My guess is one space is deeded to each unit and the rest are handicapped parking, for sale, or guest parking.

About 10-12 years back Roslindale residents, business, and the city met for a year to redefine Roslindale's zoning to help keep Roslindale's profile as-is as a light-weight residential area in the city. The new zoning included the input from the BRA (now BPDA) and a hired company the city paid to assist with the effort.

Among the changes included requiring 2 parking spaces for each dwelling. The only way to get around this is by a ZBA variance, which the current ZBA seems willing to do. Structures are supposed to be limited to 35 feet or about the same as the average 3-decker, which the ZBA seems willing to allow a variance on most of the time.

New business was also given expectations such as keeping their frontage open to view inside. The Cajun restaurant on Poplar St. is a good example of this. However some existing business was "grandfathered" to exempt them from major changes. The Dollar Store is an example of that, with its front windows fully blocked, as well as the Auto Zone parts store.

The objective of the zoning update was to define Roslindale as it is, and was, and so that new development would resemble and emulate this presentation and maintain the nature that has drawn many people here. However, the current ZBA seems to just ignore this as does the administration and city council.

It seems a lot of people are starting to complain about this over development near the business district but no one is saying anything either.

So to list what's on the table

-- Dragon Chef-Bob's Pita... demo and new structure
-- Moreno Auto Body... demo and new structure
-- New apartments at Taft Hill Terrace next to health center
-- Belgrade Auto - demo and new structure

And just outside of the business district

-- Roslindale Hardware - new addition over the commercial block
-- Tony's Market -- rumor only but considering adding up.

Worth noting that the street-level business for these new structures should conform to the new zoning even if the rest of the structures doesn't.

And before people start jumping on the "racist" and NIMBY band wagon... you were not there. This was a well attended effort by a cross cultural population of concerned people.

Parking? How many business owners have left Roslindale due to a lack of parking? I can name one easily.

There's no question Boston needs more housing but none of this development will serve the low to middle income population what so ever that Roslindale has served so well for a lifetime and more. Those people are being priced out. Check your new property tax bills people. The re-evaluations are out and your taxes will be jumping $500 to $1000. I know ours is.

if you build nice new units that go for market rate, rich people who would otherwise buy older, more affordable units and drive the prices of those up, don't do that.

the fundamental issue with affordability in boston is that nothing new was built for decades under menino. housing stock ages and as it does it becomes more affordable as the wealthy will pay a premium for newness and fancy finishes. the luxury apartments of the 70s/80s are cheap working housing now. we need to continue to build now to have affordable housing in 10 years.

In fact, if you look around the building, you can probably see the “National” sign that was there so-called name brand of the gasoline they pumped. Hope they cleaned it all up.

Look what popped up today:

Oh come on. Are we ok with that horrible gabled faux “traditional” monstrosity that was recently built on Cummins designed by Khalsa, the worst architect in the city? There is such a thing as nice modernist buildings with high quality materials, which go up all over the city, but people want developers to slap sloped roofs and crappy plastic fypon tchotchkes all over the building so it fits into their fascist vision of what our “quaint” neighborhood should look like. Advocate for things that really matter like affordable housing and transit, and push for higher quality materials (like brick and stone). not whether you want roslindale to resemble something out of a Martha Stewart’s Christmas special or something. I’m not saying this particular design is good or bad, but roslindale isn’t beacon hill or Nantucket. We don’t want to become like them.