Comm. Ave. hill in Brighton could get new apartments for veterans, singles

Proposed veterans apartments in Brighton

Proposed Brighton Marine building.

The hill heading up Comm. Ave. from Warren Street could be transformed in coming years under plans by developers to add a new apartment building aimed at veterans and to turn an office building into a home for young single professionals.

Officials from the Brighton Marine Health Center showed off plans for a 101-unit project at the start of the hill, at Warren Street at a meeting of the Brighton Allston Improvement Associations last night.

The proposed project would house 81 "affordable" apartments and 20 rented at market rates, all with veterans given a preference.

The health center is partnering with Winn Development - a company that specializes in building affordable housing, not the casino people - to build the complex. Winn would then manage the apartments, along with classrooms and a community center on the first floor of the main building. A small building that served as officers' quarters when the health center was a federal facility would be remodeled as well.

Apartments will be split between one- and two-bedroom units.

The complex would sit next to the Lancaster, a 55-unit condo project now under construction.

On the other side of the Lancaster, developer Alex Matov wants to convert the office building at 1505 Comm. Ave. into 62 studios and 23 two-bedroom units - with a completely new exterior facade.

Proposed 1505 renovation
Proposed re-do of 1505 Comm. Ave.

Matov and a partner bought the building a month ago from a company that also wanted to convert the building into housing - but by doubling the footprint of the building, which ran into strong opposition from the neighborhood association.

Matov told the BAIA that under his plan, the footprint of the building would remain the same. He would add a roof over an existing attached parking deck and fill that with apartments.

In an argument with a resident who accused him of only adding to the "renters' hellhole" in that part of Brighton, Matov said he had two main constraints: One was the opposition of residents to expanding the footprint of the building. The other, he said, is the natural life cycle of the area: Young professionals need a place to live, but don't want to stick around when they get older and have families.

He added anybody could check with D-14 to see that his buildings have an excellent record for keeping out the sort of troublemakers the resident was concerned would further swarm into Brighton.

Another resident praised Matov for adapting the building rather than tearing it down: That's very green thinking, the resident said.

The studios in the building would range between 460 and 600 square feet. Roughly 15% would be designated as "affordable."

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Comments

Heh, no

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The architect for the Brighton Marine project said his work was "informed" by the strong architecture of existing Comm. Ave. buildings, but with a modern touch - look at those bay-like windows and cornices.

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more crap architecture

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I thought the same thing. You can probably pull up the artist's rendering of most any residential project in the city of Boston and not be able to tell them apart. The tall building with the different colored panel things? The brownstoney sort of thing with the square box sticking out that I guess is like a bay-window....sorta? The thing with the brick... It really is tremendously boring and screams "cheapest thing we will do in order to fatten the bottom line."

Go ahead and make money, but really the architects should go jump off a bridge. (And no, I'm NOT an architect so I can't design a cheap and appealing alternative. I'm just here to bitch. Welcome to the fucking internet.)

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Laws and Regs

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Beyond attention to financial bottom line, "boring" design these days is heavily driven by regulation and statute. From the Americans with Disabilities Act to Massachusetts Architectural Access Board, to LEED requirements, to City of Boston zoning restrictions, to the fears of banks and insurance companies over liability, to the arbitrary preferences demanded by community and City process, developers and architects have a very tight and usually contradictory box within they must work.

Like front steps and stoops? Nope, not accessible. Like balconies and roof decks? Can you afford the liability if someone gets injured falling or dropping something? Like slim, modern looking buildings? Well, the height limit will make you short and fat and of course you have to match those 120 year old buildings as best you can with today's materials. There are endless restrictions like this that shape what gets built these days.

laws and regs and innovation

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I agree with you. But just the same, architects, similar to any artist, work within limitations. There are ways to comply with the required guidelines (ADA) and the optional ones (LEED) and still come up with creative solutions.

The issue of public approval is a tougher one as there are many great buildings of today that were thought of as butt-heinous when originally proposed. Future opinions of these nondescript buildings you can't do much about, but my problem is that it's making our present look like any other city in North America. It's boring and I doubt any of it will last all that long; maybe because it's shoddy ("don't make em like they used to") but more likely because no one will care if someone proposes to tear them down in 50 years.

Alex Matov

Alex Matov is with the Russian Benevolent Society, which owns 14-20 Linden Street, as well as a couple of residential properties on Linden and Pratt (among others.) I've met him during several neighborhood meetings regarding the controversial expansion of capacity for the Crystal Restaurant ant the associated Garage Lounge. They did a nice renovation of the Linden Street house, and the tenants do seem well-behaved.

The Pratt Street property seems to still be waiting for work to be done, and they're not exactly proactive about taking care of the graffiti on the long facade of 14-20 Linden, which makes it one more eyesore on a dismal street - they only remove graffiti when Citizens Connect complaints are made, and even then they don't remove everything, such as the graffiti on the windows facing Linden Street, which has been there for many, many months.

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More studios?

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Why does Boston need more studios? I lived in a "large" studio for three years on Comm Ave because that's all I could afford in the area, but even a "large" studio was still tiny - and it cost nearly as much as a mortgage payment would have been (especially when the cost of a parking spot was factored in, given that parking on the street in that area can be quite a gamble).

A lot of the Boston rental market is either tiny, overpriced studios or >2 bedrooms meant for students or recent grads who don't mind living with a bunch of roommates. What there is a lack of are affordable 1- and 2-bedroom units, especially ones that will allow pets.

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Ever heard of supply & demand

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Ever heard of supply & demand? Studios are expensive because there aren't enough of them.

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Studios

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Further to the above, the City loves studios. Studios all but guarantee more taxpayers using fewer City services (e.g., its exceedingly rare to have public school-aged kids in studios). Its the same reason why the suburbs particularly love "old-folks" housing.

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City Needs More Studios and Lofts

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Utilities love studios too. More studios = more customers unable to share resources.

Still they're not just for young students as people keep claiming. College students love roommates. When you get older [and are still unmarried] your tolerance for the BS of roommates dwindles.

Also with prices for buying jacked up, as they have been since 2000, most people are lucky to be able to afford a 300-400 sq foot studio because they damn well are not going to be able to pay for more space.

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As a resident in the

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As a resident in the neighborhood I'm not too pleased about this building. If it were 100% affordable housing for veterans then I would definitely be all for it. However this building is just going to add to the growing number of "luxury"/ high rent buildings that already plague the Allston/Brighton Green Zone.

The market rate apartments in high end buildings like this and the Green Zone are only going to exacerbate the rising rents in Allston/Brighton. Parking in the neighborhood is already tight and it doesn't seem that there will be any additional parking added to the building. Finally, more apartments on Comm Ave means more congestion on the B Line, which everyone in Allston/Brighton already knows is the most crowded, miserable and slowest line in Boston.

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?

So 80% affordable housing isn't enough?

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Don't you realize developers

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Don't you realize developers have to make up the subsidy somewhere? There is no free lunch. More people will pay more in rent so a few can pay less.

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I don't know what you're talking about

Can you explain why you think this will become "luxury" housing when 80% of it will be available only to those making 80-120% of Area Median Income?

How could anyone be against this project, which is sponsored by an organization that has been focused on helping veterans and their families for thirty years as it is today but whose hospital has been open since the 1930s?

Have you read a lot about this or are you just making assumptions after reading this one post? If you're not educated on it, please read more. It seems like a good project.