Owner of Brighton Center bar wants to replace it with an apartment building

Proposed apartment building on Market Street in Brighton Center

Picture something like this instead of the Brighton Beer Garden.

Kineavy

The Cronin Group, which owns the Brighton Beer Garden on Market Street, tonight proposed tearing it down to make room for an apartment building of up to seven stories.

Michael Kineavy, the company's chief operating officer (and former aide to Tom Menino, shown at right), appeared before the Brighton Allston Improvement Association to ask its suggestions on the company's initial proposal, which showed 34 apartments in a seven-story building with commercial space on the ground floor, 24 parking spaces and a roof deck.

The consensus: The building is too tall. And Cronin should see if it could work with St. Columbkille to rent parking spaces in its large lot across the street.

Kineavy said the building, which, of course, would have no units with more than two bedrooms, would appeal to the sort of young professionals who would want to be near numerous bus lines and, eventually, the commuter rail station that New Balance will build up the street. Part of the draw, he said, would be dedicated storage spaces for bicycles.

He added the building, by adding more residents to Brighton Center would help perk up the surrounding business district.

But residents said seven stories would be too tall in an area where no buildings are taller than four stories. And while Brighton Center could use some more density, residents worried the building would set in motion a cavalcade of what one described as South Boston-style development - far too much in what is basically a small-town center.

Residents also disputed whether the young professionals would be as disinclined to own cars as Kineavy said, in part because many people who live in the city now work in the suburbs, which you can't get to by public transit or bicycle.

Kineavy said he took the criticisms to heart and would come back to the group with a revised plan. He noted the company has yet to begin the formal process for seeking city permits and approvals.

The company's initial plans showed the building moved ten feet back from the property line with the adjoining and historic Market Street cemetery - the current restaurant building goes right to the line. A company architect said that even at seven stories, the building would not cast shadows on the cemetery.

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Comments

Overwhelming consensus?

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That's not quite right. He had several people stand up in support.

There was vocal opposition, of course, but it wasn't "consensus".

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OK, took out the word "overwhelming"

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But I'm not sure the two or three people who did voice their support is "several," especially given that one of them said he supported the basic idea but didn't explicitly support the specific proposal.

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Who cares about shadows?

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The cemetery is open like twice a year to the public. The rest of the time it is locked tight. The dead won't care if you're throwing shade.

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Boston needs more dense and

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Boston needs more dense and taller construction!
Brighton is not a suburb anymore and this organization refused to adapt.

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Parking

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I think the bigger objection to the height would be the 24 off street parking to 34 units. Unless all 34 units are singles that may be a little too little. Not by much mind you. But it is an area too far for most to consider walking to the B line, and the 57 bus is no substitute for a proper A line. If they could just put a little notch in the building and toss in a few more spaces, maybe some zip car spots, I think it would be more palatable.

Maybe they could work out a deal with the Corrib Pub next door where they can alot so many of its parking spaces for their building. Because damned if I know who would drive to a pub.

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Numerous studies have shown

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Numerous studies have shown time and time again that car ownership is dropping. Why do we continue to let this issue dictate so much of the development discussion?

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The general versus the specific

Normally, I would agree with you. However, note that 1) BlackKat is a serious cyclist and 2) he/she lives in the area and understands the transit system and cycling issues.

If BlackKat is saying "needs a bit more parking", then I would tend to believe that over the general trend toward fewer cars.

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Car Free Living vs. Location Location Location

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I am just being pessimistic perhaps. If it was just a few blocks closer to the B line or a few blocks the other way, closer to the New Balance commuter rail stop, it might do better with little to no parking. But I also realize that parking in Brighton is hardly the deadly game it can be in other parts of the city. Less cars, more driveways, more mass transit.

I don't have a car myself. Cycle, train, or walk to where I need to go. Not having to spend money on one can be very freeing. But the train stops right outside my house and there are 4 major, grocery stores one can walk to in 15 minutes. And If I need a car for some reason my building has zip car spots behind it or I can borrow one from someone.

But I also recognize that in Brighton, once you move away from the train lines, car ownership seems to bounce right up. Not unlike Roslindale. There is not a huge parking shortage in those neighborhoods because of their low density. But that could change as they get more built up.

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"Not enough parking"

This is what leads to forced subsidies for cars. Why not let the new residents figure it out? Adding parking spaces simply raises the cost of the project, which will be passed on in rent, probably regardless of car ownership.

How about Boston comes up with an RPP system that allows "no RPP" zoning? Give the guy density with the understanding no RPP will be issued at those addresses, and let them choose how many parking spots they feel like building.

No car issue, the market sorts it. And if car ownership and parking spaces lead to traffic maybe the "locals" will clamor for less of it someday...

Edit: Looking around on street view I don't see any RPP zones,so I guess that idea is out! I wonder how this area will ever improve then... :(

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There's an idea. It's not

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There's an idea. It's not enough to exclude nonresidents to give existing residents free street parking -- now you want to take advantage of new residents as well.

Here's my idea: put a cap on off-street parking, and let on-street parking work itself out. That's the best way to create affordable housing. It will also attempt to expand the sort of development that makes for the most pleasant neighborhoods in Boston: small apartment buildings with little to no parking. We need more housing units, not more cars.

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It depends, what is the goal?

He who defends everything defends nothing.

I think on street parking concerns cause the development fears in the first place. If we can resolve this fear we can build more housing units and density with less interference. Giving up RPPs and on street parking may seem like a bitter pill to swallow but at least the development will get done.

If we take baby steps then maybe we will get somewhere. One step closer with new stakeholders who are less interested in "free" street parking.

Adding a few more spaces to

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Adding a few more spaces to the garage seems reasonable. I believe the parking lot beside the Corrib is a city parking lot, not sure how that could work. St. Columbkille's parking lot is not close enough. Sadly the 57 is already overcrowded.

Things are not always what they seem, and as for the 57...

Adding a few spaces may seem reasonable, but at what cost? Garage parking space can cost twenty to thirty thousand dollars per space. The results?
- Higher costs to the tenants in the form of rent (the non-car renter may subsidize the car user)
- Increased car oriented urban design (they look like crap)
- Increased externalities (traffic, pollution, etc)

When it comes to local bus routes, the primary cost of the route is time, the hourly cost of the driver. Additional traffic is likely to increase time (leading to less service and more overcrowding). Inversely, reducing traffic could lead to decreases in the local bus route runtimes. This would allow the MBTA to run additional service without major expense, reducing overcrowding!

How does adding more spaces seem now?

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Still needed

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You really can't argue that Brighton Center is served well enough by public transit that most residents will forgo having a car. *Maybe* once the new commuter rail stop is in, but it's a hike and a half to get from Brighton Center to the Seaport for example.

I always find it funny when

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I always find it funny when all these people in Brighton claim there are parking issues. I own a spot in the neighborhood and it took 6 months for me to find someone to rent my spot. Since I've been hanging out in the places where such spots are posted, there are numerous other people who I've noticed having the same issue. Prices on renting out spots right now are ~$50/month less than they were a couple years ago.

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Let the market dictate

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If you don't think there are 34 families who could get by on 24 parking spaces (2 spaces for every 3 units approximately...or 10 car-free units and 24 1-car units), then the market will show as much and there will be cheaper units available to entice people willing to get creative with their cars/needs.

A UCLA professor wrote an interesting study on this that strongly argues that reducing the amount of parking available by default actually frees up parking counter-intuitively. In conjunction with incentives for neighborhoods to reduce parking (e.g., if you reduce parking, the city will prioritize increases in spending on public transit needs in your area), we can cut auto dependency and increase livability.

Also, to whomever said the Columbkille parking spaces are too far away...wow. Just wow. It's like a block, maybe 2. Park in a city much?

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I always wonder about walking distance assumptions.

Is there much consensus on what makes a long walk?

Is it all over the map based on people's sense of distance?

I'm about midway between Central and Union Square and it's a 15 minute amble.

That's a convenient walk for most of the year.

What about the idea of parking some distance from where you live?

That was a common practice for friends I had in Seattle. They'd mainly use the car for hauling and road trips and leave it in a safe and free industrial zone or something.

I'm very glad I'll go to my grave with very little time spent stressing parking.

Beyond 5 minutes

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Mind you, that is as objective as I can be. Personally, I would make it 10 minutes easy, but then again my walk home is 23 minutes.

If you look at the Orange Line to Forest Hills, most stops are about a 10 to 15 minutes' walk apart, making it 5 to 7.5 minutes to walk to one.

Decades ago, I read in a book that if an enclosed shopping center's noticeable distance between ends is beyond a point, people will drive from one end to the other rather than walk. Hence, for example, the South Shore Plaza is built in an L shape, and the Natick Mall has a series of small cricks, making the distances seem smaller.

Wow... pretty sedentary.

You are a fairly dedicated pedestrian and a good observer. That makes sense.

But jeeze, it's like a car life paradoxically shrinks your sense of external space and life flies past at 20 to 60 miles an hour.

My typical trail clip runs average between 4 and 7 miles and I like how it really gives a sense of how a place hangs together.

I was thinking about this today

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Walking down Washington Street, I was looking at the people waiting for the bus at Archdale. It's a 10 minute walk (at least how I walk) yet people wait. And today they waited and waited for a while, since I was in the station 5 minutes when they showed up.

Of course, driving that distance would be insane. However, it amazes me how people drive to the vicinity of Roslindale Square to take the bus to Forest Hills.

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I'm sorry, Michael

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I would have reviewed the proposal but I appear to have double deleted it accidentally.

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Slight nitpick

A brewpub is a pub that brews its own beer on premises (see: Cambridge Brewing, Beer Works, the late Watch City). As far as I now, BBG doesn't do that.

And second, Brighton residents just lost 2 bars in the past week. What's one more, right?

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Yeah,

What's up with all the bars suddenly vacating the Allston/Brighton area?

Brewpub?

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I lived in Brighton Center for 8 years. Castlebar and Joeys were institutions. Brighton Beer Garden is a nondescript sports bar that doesn't add a ton to the neighborhood, so it would not be a big cultural loss. I think Brighton Center is ripe for expansion, but yes, most people will want a car there. Getting downtown is easy on the 57 or Mass Pike MBTA buses, but there's no convenient way to get to the Arsenal Mall or Target without one. We has street parking and it was never an issue finding a spot, but adding new construction without parking is problematic.

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brighton beer gardens...

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previously rosie o'grady's and mcmahons, both brighton institutions of long ago. rosie's blind pig saloon also had an "old man" bar, separated, on the left hand side that we always called the 19th hole. i had my first beer in a bar there with my dad, so yeah some of this stuff means something to people. the real brighton is gone forever, it was a great place to grow up.

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I lived in the apartments

I lived in the apartments next to Rosie O'Gradys and the graveyard in the mid-to-late 80's. Really enjoyed living in Brighton there, it was a great location. Brings back fond memories.

Do they really count as

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Do they really count as institutions when there were only a dozen or so people in them even at the busiest times?

No one will shed a tear...

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...if the Brighton Barf Garden leaves. You call it a nondescript sports bar, but it doesn't even rise to that level (sorry, TVs showing games with the sound turned off and generic dudebro music blaring does not a sports bar make). Beer selection is meh and not fresh, and the food is downright awful. They won't be missed.

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Special

You mean, like block after block after block of identical three-story buildings special?

Or like "more luxury housing" special?

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I know

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Those damn yuppies, causing property values to go up wherever they go

*clutches pearls*

*eye roll*

Seriously, is this your biggest worry?

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Welcome to America

Things change, people move, etc. Get used to it.

Note that there wouldn't be a lot of room for all those "dastardly newcomers ruining everything" if so many old towne folk hadn't sold out or moved to the suburbs as soon as they could afford to. Ever think of that? You may have inheritance rights to property, but you don't own a neighborhood. Ask the Wampanoag if you have any questions.

Besides, if my in-laws were any indication (and census figures showing peak population in 1950 or so), the exodus was going on solid couple of decades before busing took hold. The GI Bill had a lot to do with that.

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Agreed. The 'great migration

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Agreed. The 'great migration" I find to be of the children that grew up in the city prior to WW2 and then started having families, wanting more open spaces. Remember that many of these kids grew up in real poverty and when they became of age, the ultimate goal was to live in the burbs with lawns, open spaces and the typical middle class home. The "American Dream" at that time. Also, many of this generation were the first American born kids in their families and they had opportunities their parents never had.

I know in my family, when my folks first moved out of the city to Braintree, my grandfather couldn't understand why anyone would want to live in the boonies, but my parents were just like the many Irish moving to Quincy, Braintree, whereas it seems the Italian families moved north to Everett and Revere.

When you think of it, I wonder if that generation is the last to realize their "American Dream" as a whole, where as today we seem to struggle and the goal posts keep moving.

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they improved southie. I

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they improved southie. I lived in southie 15 years ago and it sucked. It still has a long way to go but its much better now.

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Improved?

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If you're a twenty something meathead with an 18 year old girlfriend who hangs out at the Boston Beer a Garden, the Playwright, the Whiskey Priest or the Atlantic Beer Garden. Then yes, they did improve the area.

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Brighton Development

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This is my take on this proposal:

1. anyone who is going to have the means to pay what the developer/mgmt. will charge for rent will be able to afford a car.

2. said renters will choose to have a car because that area is just not dense enough to have enough "pull" to keep people happy locally (from an entertainment and work perspective, unless this is going to be designed to house docs/nurse pracs, etc. from St. E's) AND the public transit there is not great (as someone said, the 57 is oversubscribed, the 86 is not very fast, but the 501 is reasonable but only if you're going all the way downtown), and is essentially non-existent if you're not going downtown (I think that the St. C's parking proposal is not a bad one - God understands that the Archdiocese of Boston needs the $$; and

3. this is why the New Balance/Brighton commuter rail station needs to be faster-tracked AND why it is absolutely essential that the DMUs-on-short-headways plan for the commuter rail lines in the urban core needs to be fast tracked as well. It makes a development like this way more palatable to potential residents because you could get out to 128 w/o a car (in this particular case, you would be able to get to Riverside, where there will increasing numbers of shuttles to 128-area businesses, not to mention the coming developments at Riverside and to Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

Also, this is why the West Station plan must be part of the Turnpike realignment. You could live at this development, take the 86 (or a pair of rollerblades) down the hill to the new BL station where you pick up a DMU to West Sta., connect at West Sta for the DMU to Kendall Sq. for all the jobs there. It would and should take no longer than 20 minutes. Of course, riding a bike would take about that long too, but contrary to how some of us feel, it is not possible (or desirable) for everyone to ride a bike all the time.

I'm sorry for a bit of a ramble, but I'm in a bit of a rush.

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Why not let the renter decide?

I understand you were in a bit of a rush so if I misunderstood any of your points please correct me.

1: I am getting the impression you think they should provide "ample parking". It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy that anyone who can afford the rent will be able to afford a car, the parking costs are already factored into the rent.

2: Renters will chose to drive because it is not dense enough? It sounds as though you have passed judgement on them. Given that they now get mandatory free parking (hidden in the rental cost) you may have a point. However, this is going to result in a vicious circle. Seeing as though a parking space is larger than the average cubicle, that space could easily have been equally used to build density.

As for the public transit: The buses run on local roads. If mandated parking limits ground level density and increases traffic, the not so great public transit is likely to suffer more.

3: I love rail and can agree with most of your sentiment here. However, I do not think that should blind us from the local environment we are trying to foster. Unless its you are looking to foster a car oriented suburbia in the city of Boston.

In short: Why are we taking all the choice away from the residents? We force them to pay for parking, then complain about the car and urban design problem. The discussion should be on breaking this vicious circle, not wondering if they provide "ample parking".

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I am agnostic on the parking issue

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I am agnostic as to whether there is parking provided, as it's not my direct neighborhood anymore. FWIW, I am confident, however, that if parking is not provided, you will have at least as many more cars on the streets around there as you have units in that building (some people will not have a car, other units will have 2, etc.). Whether or not this is a problem, I don't know, but I do not think that street parking in that area is so tight so as to have the new residents pay $XXX per month for an off-street spot versus "free" street parking. I suspect that the neighbors feel the same way, and are wary of "their" spots being taken up. This is not a new phenomenon.

As for passing judgment, well, I speak only from experience and observation. There has been much talk about the hollowing out of "attractions" (e.g., restaurants, bars, etc.) in Brighton Center. There is no supermarket (closest is probably Stop & Shop off N. Beacon and the WF on Washington St. on the Brookline line). While both of these are bikable (not walkable), not everyone (maybe even not most or many) is going to do that. They will not take a bus to go grocery shopping. They will use a car. This gets to the debate about building transit prior to demand - my feeling is people aren't going to invest in more transit-oriented living facilities unless and until they are absolutely certain that said transit will be there. There have been too many broken promises and people have come to realize that the legislative process is so broken that it is unlikely to improve soon.

I think my underlying feeling is that people in this particular area will find that they have use for a car frequently enough to want to have one, and frequently enough that something like Zipcar won't work for them. This is particularly true when the young couples that will move in there (and I definitely think this is who will move in there) have their first child. In my experience that's really when the whole bike/urban lifestyle thing gets thrown out the window in favor of doing anything possible to get 15 more minutes of sleep. (Incidentally, and again, in my experience, the couple with child won't move out of that apartment until it becomes too small for them, i.e., when there is a second kid - so they will adjust accordingly, e.g., by using a car more often). This does not happen to everyone, but in my experience (I am in that age cohort), it happens to most (e.g., we are the last holdouts amongst our circle, clinging to our condo in Brookline that, even though reasonably sized, will be too small when and if there is another body in the household).

I know that there are the die-hards who will talk about having 3 kids in a multi-family dwelling, Burley trailers, etc. (incidentally, I have one of those), but these people need to realize that they are outliers, not part of the majority or even a substantial minority, and it will take at least another generation or 2 of good urban planning and (most importantly) sustained commitment to urban and inter-urban transit (it's not looking good), before that changes.

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Reading between the lines

I've read two stories on Uhub in the last week about residential projects actually being nixed by residents' concerns, and neither of them seemed to mention that filthy L word. Meanwhile...Southie. Jeffries Point. The Seaport. Fenway.

Clearly this guy's doing it wrong by not blatantly trying to eliminate the middle class from Boston.

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Is there street level retail

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Is there street level retail as part of this project? If not it needs to be added.

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Yes

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The plan shown last night had 2,500 square feet of first-floor retail.

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Cruel Irony

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The man who helped Menino strong-arm developers by ignoring zoning reform and handling every project on an ad hoc basis so they could extract support/money from the developers now apparently wants to build something that exceeds zoning. I'd say any project he is affiliated with that violates zoning should be automatically rejected. (I'm assuming this doesn't meet zoning standards which is why he's doing this dance in the first place)

That said - save perhaps for some valid parking issues - looks like a decent project in an area that needs housing. One more example for why we need to vastly rezone large swaths of the city.

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Rethinking is a good idea

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Let's face with all the fallout from the BRA Menino scandals, KIneavey is a little suspect. The proposal would probably stand a better a chance with a Max height of 4 stories with a roof deck. Parking for cars onsite is a major requirement. This Brighton group has common sense and they want responsible development. Disregard some of the bicycle NUTS in the group the majority of the is pro proper development.