Waterfront apartment building, townhouses approved in East Boston

Coppersmith Village

The BRA yesterday approved a non-profit group's plans to replace two abandoned buildings between Border and Liverpool streets with 56 apartments and 15 townhouses.

The Neighborhood of Affordable Housing says its Coppersmith Village project will include a mix of affordable and market-rate units - and will include a number of three-bedroom apartments aimed at families. All of the townhouses, which will be sold, rather than rented, will have three bedrooms.



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    Has there ever been a community development corp that has connected with an architect worth a crap? Does everything HAVE TO LOOK LIKE THE SAME CHEAP-ASS PIECE OF CRAP?

    There used to be pride in building something beautiful, now it's just pride in building something cheaply.

    Get over it

    This is a block of flats. You aren't going to get the TajMahal. Don't be ridiculous about wanting everything to be monumental and still affordable. Triple Deckers aren't cute, pretty, or special either but they did and still do a damn good job.

    If you are so clever that you know how to make awesome beautiful monumental architecture that working people can afford, knock yourself out.


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    Three deckers, while they won't win any beauty contests, are a Boston thing and have a level of civic character, originality and style that no, you don't see in much new construction. There's a lot of room for variation in detail and color. I don't think he said anything about monumental--no one's expecting Zaha Hadid--but yes, I have the same sinking feeling when I see this kind of generic, character-free building.


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    Triple-deckers are iconic of urban New England, and when accented with tasteful mouldings, they can be quite attractive.

    Variation in Detail and Color

    First of all, have you seen photos of triple-decker neighborhoods as built? Pretty uniform, some didn't have porches until later, etc. Most were built in tight formations around narrow, nonconnecting streets by developers in a monotonous way - detail and color were added later, as were trees and shrubs and half-shell Mary's and other individual decorations.

    Secondly, large buildings are not necessarily lacking in detail and color, and such can be added later as it was with triple deckers. I was amazed, wandering the former East Bloc streets of Berlin, that so many monotonously designed concrete apartment blocks had been differentiated through creative painting and embellishment schemes.

    Um, yes.

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    I've seen plenty of photos of three deckers. I live in one. I have known countless three deckers through the years and while I'm no architectural history expert, I know enough to know that the idea that these were built identically and that differences in style, color and detail were mysteriously added later is...well, wrong. And I don't even know what you mean by "narrow, non-connecting streets." You seem to be deliberately missing the point here. There's a huge difference between the construction of Boston's three deckers and this building which is, though not the worst thing on earth, thoroughly generic. It could be anywhere--Chicago, Seattle. And eastern bloc ingenuity notwithstanding, no one will ever be doing anything to liven it up.

    When you want furniture for your house

    Do you visit a professional furniture maker and ask that they piece they create be distinctive and interesting?

    Or do you go to IKEA?

    The reason this building looks like so many other buildings in other places has a lot to do with "flat pack" generic construction saving money.

    I'm guessing once a lot of

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    I'm guessing once a lot of people achieve the ability to afford to buy housing, they age out of the IKEA-furnished aesthetic. Do people really shop at IKEA because they prefer it to attractive, better-made furniture??


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    You have no idea how funny it is that you used that analogy. I hate IKEA. And no, I don't shop there and I don't have any money. I buy cheap. I buy secondhand. I buy antiques. And then I keep them. If they break, I fix them. Using the IKEA idea when you're talking about housing is kind of nuts. Yeah--it's cheap. It looks good for about ten minutes. And yes--some of it's fine. We do have an Expedit bookshelf that's a decent thing. But if you're building a city? Homes for people? There's got to be a better way. The mold and misery you say that people are eager to get away from? You don't think in five years those shiny new buildings will have some issue or other?

    Have you ever been outside of

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    Have you ever been outside of New England? Lots of cities have triple deckers, including Chicago. So your point about this fitting in other cities is meaningless.

    I'm not a huge fan of triple

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    I'm not a huge fan of triple deckers. I think row-house type brick buildings are way superior - brick looks better, buildings standing side to side form nice street boundaries, etc.

    But even modest tenement 3 families in east boston had way more character and craftsmanship than the modern crap. At the very least they had decent classical proportions, a cornice, window trim and fairly ornamented entry doors/steps. Inside you would find nice tall trim, run-in place moldings and solid doors/hardware.

    Compare that to the current home-depot special style housing. No ornamentation on facade. Often windows are just arbitrary sizes - whatever the most economical is at the time. Plastic of course too. You will never find a decent wooden window nowadays anywhere but a mansion. The most trim you get inside is tiny 4 inch MDF base molding and kit door/window trim.

    Typically, I think most

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    Typically, I think most people who choose to live in the Boston area like the look of triple-decker neighborhoods. What is it that you don't like about them, swrrly?

    I don't dislike triple deckers

    I am pointing out that, based on my MIL's family photos of their early days, they were very cookie-cutter, and had vast tracts of sameness due to how they were built. Years of people changing them and years of trees growing gave them their individual character and current look.

    I am also pointing out that you can't build like that today for a number of reasons: lack of cheap old-growth timber from Maine, lack of cheap labor, fire safety considerations, much higher land costs, etc.

    Get over yerself

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    Hey there, Swirlygoil. I didn't say anything about putting in another Trinity Church, but if you look at some of the triple deckers and other housing stock around Eastie built around the turn of the century you'll see some simple architectural detail and care put into the design. SOme of the older places were built for wealthier folks, but many of them were basically tenements. Some if it was plastered over with vinyl siding or asphalt shingles or asbestos tiles over the years, but sometimes it peeks out at you. None of that breaks the bank. It is possible to make a decent looking building without running up all your costs.

    But if you think "a block of flats" should look like shit and the people who live there don't deserve anything decent (yes, you put words in my mouth, I'll put a few in yer gob), then so be it.

    Please tell us your ideas, then

    Or, better yet, start a consulting architecture firm dedicated to your beliefs which provides affordable detail and beauty to the working class masses.

    After all, it isn't about what you want to look at but about people having clean, safe places to live.

    The trailer courts I grew up in were shit holes, yet they managed to provide affordable housing for a lot of struggling people and people looking to work their way into better places.

    Triple deckers were also built in masses by speculators using stock plans, with balloon construction that was possible only because the huge timbers from Maine were cheap. You cannot get that sort of level of trim or detail at current costs of construction. Materials and labor are far more expensive relative to wages now.

    Finally, I'm betting that the people who will rent or buy here probably don't much care if they live in a cute or novel or decorous building - they are probably more likely to think "wow - I don't have to worry about my kids eating lead paint or my mold allergies anymore".

    I'm just not sure

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    Why you're trying to turn this into a burning class issue. I didn't write the original post but you could easily say the same thing about the multimillion dollar monstrosities that are popping up all over Lincoln and Weston and every other fancy burb. Generic, ugly, no real relation to where they're sited. It was a comment about aesthetics, not economics.

    What do you suggest, then?

    What would you do to change this without changing the budget and the functionality of the building?

    What I see is a building that is planned a certain way because that's how buildings are most economically constructed. It doesn't look bad to me at all. I don't care if it could be anywhere - I don't think the people who will buy into this really care because they want functional, affordable, and safe housing,

    It looks clean. It looks safe. It looks solid. It looks like an apartment building. I wouldn't mind living there.

    So - lets hear all these creative ideas for not making it look generic!

    Come on now.

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    You don't have to be willfully obtuse. Any sort of little flair or local color goes a long way for folks that don't have much. Making something non-generic and "their own" can really improve the day-to-day. Not everyone is so utilitarian. Some people would like to see something that distinguishes itself from the typical bare minimum approach. A little imagination goes a long way and encourages a vibrant, exciting community in these situations.

    And, no, people who aren't architects for the most part can't always put ideas into words about how to improve buildings. That's why people who design facades and draft blueprints and so on need degrees. It's like asking people without degrees in urban planning how they'd solve traffic snarling they complain about. The fact that people are already complaining about "generic" looks in new architecture means something is wrong.


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    if she isn't willfully obtuse, then she can't later claim to be 'vilified'.

    critiques of critics

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    No of course if you dare express an opinion on something you have to also be able to actually do that thing as well, don't you? If I come out of the movie theater and say "that was a crappy movie" Swirlyturd would say "unless you can make a better movie, you're wrong...that work of cinema by Adam Sandler was certainly enough for everyone in this crowd." "Was that a bad meal? Well shut up! If you can't cook a better one then button your pie hole!"

    And of course she can say this because as we all know she has firsthand, expert experience with EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED OR COULD BE DONE. I mean, how can you argue with that?

    Yes and no.

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    I completely agree with your point. Imagine if the best we could expect from surgery was what we could do ourselves. But the name calling?

    No architect, I

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    But there are a lot of people around putting a lot of work into creating interesting and--gasp--beautiful lower-income housing. It's not impossible. If it were me, then yes, I'd want something with more of a Boston vernacular--maybe a play in the classic three-decker. But again--not my profession, sadly.

    not at all

    But I still have not heard one specific idea other than "make it look like a triple decker", which would be somewhat absurd given the scale of the building. It would be like those "colonoids" - the huge, wood facade buildings meant to look faux-lonial, but just look out of scale and stupid.

    Maybe the townhouses could have an homage to triple deckers ... but I still have yet to hear a singe other idea other than "they should make it look better" or "they should look local" or "they need to be more creative". That isn't a critique - that's whining.

    HOW??? And how do you propose modifications which will be both economical to build and maintain? I realize that the local culture is one of demanding other people spend money to make things satisfying, but the fact is that it has to be affordable and remain so.

    All I hear is "they shouldn't look like this". Fine, So how SHOULD they look?

    (local and special and pretty and cute and ... they should do this... and not like this)

    Sorry, but given the lack of specific recommendations and how they won't bloat the price and upkeep, my defense of the existing design stands.

    I think it's been made clear

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    That none of us here are architects--do you want blueprints? Sketches? Your essential theme here seems to be: we might as well build some Soviet style grey apartment towers because who the hell cares what anything looks like as long as they have a roof over their heads and if you think otherwise then you're just an elitist who's never had a moment of suffering in your life and just wants to build something "cute."

    What, because it's in Eastie

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    What, because it's in Eastie people should settle for cookie-cutter crap design? Furthermore, contrary to your belief, good design does not equal the Taj Mahal. Check out some architectural design books if you'd like to learn about architectural design. The BAC is located at the corner of of Newbury and Hereford in the Back Bay. They have a gallery open to visitors. Check it out. Talk to students and professors. Educate yourself.

    Price and livability take priority

    If you bloat the price satisfying the self-appointed architecture critics, it kind of screws people, right?

    Too many architecture students forget that part ...

    Tent City in the Back Bay is

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    Tent City in the Back Bay is probably the nicest and most successful I can think of. Designed by Goody Clancy.

    Say It, Don't Spray It, Peter Keating

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    Would you rather stare at the piece of crap East Boston waterfront as it is? Goodness forbid there be some redevelopment along an entirely renovated public transportation rail for people in a neighborhood that deserve some redevelopment in the first place. Blow it out your blow-hole if you have an issue with tacky redevelopment. It sure is, but you're missing the principle behind what's happening here. At least there's somebody actually putting the effort in getting people to live there, and it certainly isn't YOU.

    All the new buildings going

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    All the new buildings going up only have units FOR SALE. What Boston is really lacking is rental units. UGH.


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    I'm sure all the yuppies will be lining up to shell out $500k+ for a crappy 2 bedroom across the street from a MS-13 infested housing project.

    Not to mention

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    the thrill of paying $500k to live in a building that includes subsidized and rental housing (aka poor and transient neighbors). Yeah, in real estate it's always a Good Idea to buy the most expensive house on the block.

    Meanwhile, if this place is going to be built to the same exacting standards as the plywood palace they're building on the pier down the road, full-price customers will be staying away in droves and it will be become just more Eastie subsidized housing with wonderful waterfront views.

    I'm sorry....but what??

    I'm sorry....but what??

    There's only one or two major condo building going up right now...Millennium Tower (Filenes)/ 22 Liberty (Fan Pier) - neither of which have reached th structural phase of construction btw.

    The other major construction projects are rentals. Among them:

    1. Boylston West - Fenway
    2. Viridian- Fenway
    3. AVA Theater District - Stuart Street
    4. One Greenway - Kneeland Street
    5. Ink Block (mostly rentals, but one building - not yet under construction will be condos) - Old Herald site
    6. Pier 4 - Seaport
    7. Waterside Place - Seaport
    8. Avalon Exeter - Back Bay
    9 Radian (120 Kingston) - Financial District
    10. One Canal - West End
    11. Portside at Pier One - East Boston waterfront

    Plus, we have recently completed rental projects:
    1. The Kensington (roughly 380 units) - lower Washington Street/Chinatown
    2. The Victor (roughly 120 units) - West End
    3. 315 A Street - Seaport
    plus a handful of downtown building conversions to rental units.

    This is contrasted to one major condo development completion: Millennium Place. - lower Washington Street

    I can't speak as to where the city is in terms of rental equilibriam, but the ratio of rental projects to condo projects is very much skewed toward rentals right now.

    "the rent is too damn high"

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    I think the prior commentor was trying to point out that rentals at a moderate price point are not being constructed, not that there are none available.

    Most of the properties you mention, I see over 4k a month rent for a 2 bedroom unit. Am I alone in thinking that's literally double what I've ever paid for 2-3 bedroom apartments in older complexes or houses in the city?

    Not that this is news to anyone, but there are many of us not eligible for an "affordable" unit who cannot swing the rents in these new buildings. Not really complaining, because I sadly am past the point of caring. I just find it quite interesting who exactly we're making space for here.


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    while I agree with your post, every place you list here as rental units have units that START $1500 or more for a STUDIO, if not more. Some of these new rental units are ridiculously over priced. Sorry 4k for a 2 bedroom isn't affordable.

    New construction

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    Whaddya expect? Probably cannot get below $3/SF rents on a new building, without subsidies of some sort.

    What you ought to be looking for is somewhat older properties that will have less pressure on them once the new supply opens up.

    I agree

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    And it shouldn't be like this... people wonder why families are leaving boston.

    Why should the tax payers have to subsidize rents to get them lower?

    And we wonder why rent control shouldn't have gone away..... now we know.

    New York

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    Still has rent control and stuff is still being built there...

    The only two people who hate rent control are..

    1. Landlords
    2. People who can't get into a rent control apartment

    Just saying...


    The only two people who hate rent control are..

    1. Landlords
    2. People who can't get into a rent control apartment

    Also, people who don't believe a private citizen/enterprise should subsidize the rent of others, and believe rent subsidies are the responsibility of the government.

    1. NYC is a unique RE market

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    1. NYC is a unique RE market which attracts international investment.
    2. NYC's rental market is grossly distorted because of rent control.

    It's not an easy problem

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    Generally speaking, developers aren't doing charity, and therefore won't build a new building unless it's worth their while. It seems that point is around $3/SF rent.

    I agree that it is terrible, but that's life and the cost of doing business here. Rent control is a "solution" that is worse than the original problem, because it leads to abandonment of properties.

    Now in order to find a safe way to increase the amount of "affordable housing" (by this I mean anything of a reasonable price, for anyone of modest means), there are several tactics you could take.

    You could build large amounts of cheap housing through government programs which segregate people by income. This was done after WWII, and turned out to be an enormous disaster for which we are still dealing with the fallout. Economic segregation is one of the worst things you can do to a community.

    You could create a kind of voucher system which covers part of the cost of rent in a market-rate property, for families in need. The Federal government has implemented this but it has many problems with the way it is done. I think it could be done much better, but it is what it is.

    You could look for areas with low current rents and incentivize development there by providing a subsidy to the developer, and then the property is managed by a non-profit. This is the approach of many CDCs, which are non-profit corporations founded with the goal of finding ways to create community-friendly housing at modest prices.

    You could do this instead by adding an affordable housing "requirement" to new construction all over the city, called inclusionary zoning, which avoids the economic segregation problem and piggybacks on existing development efforts.

    Or you could gather "linkage fees" in place of units and use them to fund CDC-style development. If the BRA wasn't corruptly holding onto the fees, then you might see more of this. Alas, if not done right, this could exacerbate economic segregation, if the funds are then used to create segregated housing. You would think that people have learned their lesson on this, but I am not so certain that everyone understands the danger.

    Cleanest solution, I think, is to simply add tons and tons of new housing to the supply and take the demand pressure off of older buildings through normal market action. Older buildings are cheaper. This is called "filtering" of old housing supply. Problem, of course, is that it takes a while to get that new supply and in the meantime, what do you do? People have to live somewhere. Also, you have to find good sites to develop housing on: this is where "Transit Oriented Development" comes into play, by increasing the amount of land that is "good" to develop, but in an efficient and non-sprawly way that doesn't end up costing more in infrastructure than it returns in property taxes.

    There's no perfect solution, and there's always room for innovation. So if you have any good ideas, please let us know.

    Real Estate

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    You just fully described what is wrong with the real estate market in cities these days.

    I'm willing to wager that in 20 years, major cities will be so expensive to live in that most buildings will either be expensive condos or commercial. Look at Manhattan as a good example because its happening now.

    I'm sorry I don't buy the fact that we need to give $$ in the form of tax breaks or vouchers to developers to get them to build affordable housing. Best thing to do is cut off the tax breaks and subsidies and just force a maximum rents law and such. Of course, this would never happen but its about the only solution that will work to provide affordable housing that frankly isn't a slum or a project.

    Look, developers will build if they want to, they don't need tax breaks as incentive to build. When one refuses to build because they aren't getting a tax break, someone else will. Of course, this will never happen because politicians have it in their heads that tax breaks are the only solution to get stuff built, when it really is not.

    I'm just tired of watching these huge tax breaks for 'affordable' housing that aren't affordable at all, OR its a 100 unit building where less than 10 units are considered affordable. How is this a benefit to the public? It's not, its just welfare for developers, and in the end the general public loses.

    We already tried "maximum rents" law

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    Remember the 1970s? It was a complete disaster. No thank you to that.

    Rent control does not solve the problem because it removes all incentive to create new housing supply. Ultimately, if you have a growing population, then you need more housing. If you enact a law which stifles development, then all you will end up with is a crisis where new residents cannot find homes, where property owners simply walk away from their buildings and let them literally fall to the ground, because it is not worthwhile to continue maintaining them. And then even older residents will not be able to find homes since you are effectively reducing the housing supply!

    Manhattan DOES have rent control still, and it is a problem because those people living in controlled apartments will never leave, and the non-controlled units are subsidizing them, raising rents on the market further.

    Now regarding tax breaks, I would never support them for purely luxury building, or for most building for that matter. I didn't even mention tax breaks, actually. Appropriate development to receive subsidies is property managed by a non-profit CDC. And often those grants come from the Federal government, not even local, although technically linkage fees are supposed to be used for such grants as well. Here the goal is to cover the high costs of new construction while providing housing that is available to people of modest means immediately.

    But there is most certainly no need for tax breaks to develop in hot areas of the city where the market is already pushing rents up high. That style of "economic development" (Menino-style) is imported straight from the suburbs, and it needs to end immediately.

    But the best overall, long term, solution is to boost the supply of housing by taking all the ridiculous snob-zoning restrictions away. A few crazy NIMBYs should not be able to block much needed housing because they claim that it doesn't please their aesthetic sense. Or because they are secretly trying to block all outsiders from coming into their neighborhood. That's simply not a goal that public policy should be supporting.

    Rent Control vs Maximum Rents

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    While I agree with most of what you wrote, I think you missed my point

    Rent Control = Meaning your rent cannot be increased or your locked into a dollar amount, and as long as you didn't move, your rent would never go up. And as far as abandoned buildings.. this is where the city should have gotten involved and did it by forcing property owners to do something or the city can take possession of it.

    Maximum Rents = Meaning your rent is capped at an amount based on an city wide average. Lets say a city wide average of 1 bedroom apartment is 1500 dollars. Keep in mind this average would balance out because it would average the high rents of a neighborhood like Beacon Hill with the low rents of say Roxbury or Mattapan. So the city wide max would be 1500 no matter what neighborhood you're in. So even if you move from Beacon Hill to Dorchester, your 1 bedroom apartment would never be any higher than 1500/mo. it COULD BE lower than that, but the max is 1500 bucks

    As far as tax breaks, Yes I said it, you didn't, because it seems like tax breaks is the only way politicians can get anything built. Read some of this stuff, just about any new housing development or complex gets some sort of tax break. Its almost a given now for anything. It really needs to stop.

    Like I said, everyone will be priced out of the city eventually and living in the city will be for the wealthy only.

    Same effect

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    Maximum rent, rent control, both are going to be negative for the city and the region as a whole. The dynamic is the same. It disincentivizes housing construction which leads to lack of supply, and then people go on years-long waiting lists just to live in the city. Or, rents fall below what can be supported by land value and then landlords stop maintaining their "underwater" property altogether. The net result will be disinvestment in the city.

    The land in the core of a properly functioning city should be expected to be more valuable than the periphery, for the most part. It is more expensive to live where the demand is higher, in the heart of the city, where the amenities are best. That's natural, and trying to force Beacon Hill housing to cost the same as (to pick a random place) Egleston Square housing is only going to lead to economic disaster.

    Like I said, everyone will be priced out of the city eventually and living in the city will be for the wealthy only.

    The right way out of this dilemma is to build more housing in existing neighborhoods, and also to create new neighborhoods that are attractive to people. Build them in a considerate way so that the new infrastructure does not cost more than the revenue received to pay for it, and in a compact way so as not to disturb our remaining open space and nature reserves.

    Are you..

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    Are you a real estate broker or developer?


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    "The net result will be disinvestment in the city."

    And having un-affordable housing by the average citizen is not?

    I'm sorry more housing isn't the answer, you'll saturate the market and then people will LOSE money because their building lost value because now there's so much stuff on the market, they have to REDUCE the price of their units to get them filled.


    "The land in the core of a properly functioning city should be expected to be more valuable than the periphery, for the most part. It is more expensive to live where the demand is higher, in the heart of the city, where the amenities are best. That's natural, and trying to force Beacon Hill housing to cost the same as (to pick a random place) Egleston Square housing is only going to lead to economic disaster."

    No it will stop 'high wealth' neighborhoods because ANY neighborhood would be deemed affordable now because rents would be capped. It would LEVEL the neighborhoods out.


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    I am not a real estate broker or developer. Just a person with a grasp of economics and an acute awareness of the dangers of unintended consequences.

    When you are considering something like a price ceiling, you should ask yourself: would this make sense in any other context? And if not, why consider it for housing?

    It is possible that there is a good reason to consider unorthodox methods for housing affordability, it is a market with some unique challenges. But I think it is prudent to work through the cases instead of simply asserting price controls as the solution. Everyone knows that if you put a price ceiling on another market good -- like a loaf of bread -- then you run the risk of draining your supply. If you didn't know that, well, the former Soviet Union's long bread lines should disabuse you of your enthusiasm for price controls. More locally, price controls, combined with supply controls, on the taxicab market cause a shortage of supply at key moments that we all bemoan constantly on this forum.

    I'm sorry more housing isn't the answer, you'll saturate the market and then people will LOSE money because their building lost value because now there's so much stuff on the market, they have to REDUCE the price of their units to get them filled.

    That's funny. Weren't you just talking about seeking a way to reduce the price of the units on the market? Except that you wanted to do it via government fiat, instead of balancing supply and demand.

    Hey, I'm aware that housing is an important need and you do not want speculation or random market failure to kick people out on the street. There is most certainly room for prudent regulation in the interest of stability and safety. But imposing rent controls or a "maximum rent" as you describe would not be prudent. It would be a massive intervention of central planning, the very kind of intervention which has historically been proven disastrous. No thank you.

    How about a progressive

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    How about a progressive taxation on rental income on a per-rental-unit basis? With the money funneled into increasing the rental deduction or other deductions/credits. As long as there were steadily increasing but diminishing returns for landlords, it should serve to limit rents in a more organic fashion.

    I'll try and make this short.

    I'll try and make this short. Basically "Maximum Rent" and Rent Control are functionally the same. Best you can view is Rent Control is to mean being stuck at $1000 while "Maximum Rent" is $1500 or lower.

    You could say $500 is a difference. Except in practice, there's a large room for error including just giving the same number if it were Rent Control. And the bigger reason, Maximum Rent done at best would prevent the top something percent to charge well over the average. But this mean the average and thus most units remains the same price. It will keep a few units from being overpriced at least, be exactly like rent control at worse.

    Maximum rents

    I would love to know how you would implement a Maximum Rent law.

    So, a 1500 sq ft penthouse apartment with a market rate of $10K/month would be subject to the same max as a 1500 sq. ft. apartment in some rathole building.

    But please, elaborate.

    To say nothing of the expense

    To say nothing of the expense that goes into maintaining a building in Beacon Hill or Back Bay to historic/quality standards vs. maintaining a triple decker in Dorchester.


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    I really won't elaborate because I just don't care to. Seriously, anything has to be better than whats happening now and what will happen in the future.

    Sorry over saturation isn't the answer either. It doesn't work that way. (Sorry I don't care what Matthew and his arm chair analysis says)

    I guess we'll sit back and wait for those 6k/mo dumpy studio apartments to show up because eventually everyone else will be priced out of the city...

    Edit: it is also after four on a Friday, and I know there's a bar with a beer with my name on it. Sorry, that takes priority over arguing with folks on here. Have a nice weekend folks!


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    So the key thing is not to build a lot more housing to lower pricing, but to make sure some random selection of people who can get into apartments now get to keep their costs low. Someone wants to move to Boston in 5 years for work or school? Sorry, the residents of 2013 locked in all the good rates.

    The answer to to build more density (as noted elsewhere). Imagine if a few towers were built at the Arborway yards - you could add a hundred apartments right on a major transport hub and add a huge amount of customers for the Forrest Hills businesses - blight would be gone and housing costs would be lower in JP/Rosi.

    Let me guess

    Your parents went to college and paid for you to go too

    I'm guessing that because you clearly have no idea how expensive college is now, nor child care to make that possible for people already with kids, etc.

    Either that, or you are just so fundamentally lacking in empathy as to not understand how the barriers to getting into the middle class are mounting up.

    Must be nice.


    I had absolutely no help paying for college, aside from a few scholarships here and there. Other than that, the tens of thousands of dollars it took came out of my own pocket, three jobs, and living with roommates in craptastic apartments. Which is why I'm saying, get off your ass and work for what you want.

    If someone has a kid going to school, I'm far more willing to help them, than I am a person with kids like this:

    There is half an idea there

    Boston_res is missing a lot of things in his comment. Though I wouldn't be using the rising cost of education as part of the counter, it's a whole 'nother can that I'll omit for brevity and being a major, though important, tangent that faces Boston and younger generations.

    But in a way, I can see there's something of value here: "move". New construction inside Boston all seems to be starting off expensive no matter what. While I can bring up that in the future as it becomes older with newer stuff building, it will become more middle range, that problem with that logic is this mean the previous condo owner would sell at a loss from the originally bought. Best case is at a loss due to inflation.

    This means if might not a plausible scenario of new construction start at a reasonable price. But I guess this is where the half-idea of Boston_res may have a point: Suburbia. Now usually this means the dislikable sprawl of the 1950's. And I believe most of us took to the city because we actually like urbanity. But that means this is more of an indictment of how the suburb cities have been built than anything intrinsic. Of course, I'm not convinced affordable development can't be built within the Boston-Cambridge section. But if it really can't, then building outside might be more possible and not built suburban sprawl style nor the projects style either.

    Union labor

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    Is what makes new construction so expensive. A guy in Home Depot parking lot willing to work for $4 an hour is going to do as good of a job performing basic construction tasks as a union hack that costs $40 an hour. I'm not saying developers should hire HD parking lot guys, but there's absolutely no need to pay exorbitant union prices for basic non-skilled labor. Building materials are cheap, it's the labor that drives constructions costs through the roof.

    Not at all

    What makes construction expensive is that we chopped down all the trees that made cheap building possible, and now we have safety requirements that mean you can't build things cheap because firestorms are so last century, and labor is more expensive - even non union labor - and a land is much more expensive, too!

    Stop vilifying unions,

    Besides the laborers (who

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    Besides the laborers (who even have to go to school now) which labor union is unskilled? Each trade has skills that are taught and practiced over a period of 5 years. There are a lot of risks involved in that kind of work, never mind the conditions. Were you working 8-12 hour days last week when the temps (+wind chill) were below zero? Doubt it. Non union contractors are expensive too. Let me know how the $4.00 an hour guy works for you, I'm sure he's insured!

    When you have that

    surgery to have your head removed from your behind you wouldn't elect to have that $4 an hour surgeon perform the procedure or would you? Yeah you probably would and by the way with your logic it is medically necessary.

    Speaking personally

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    I didn't know any families who got rent control. They were all smug, young professionals (and one opera singer, one yoga teacher) who basically were then able to live in a place that was way beyond their means while the resentful landlord let the buffing fall into shambles because hey--why bother? The fact that Ken Reeves had a rent controlled apartment spoke volumes to me at the time, as did the fact that he immediately went and bought a $300k plus condo the minute rent control ended (sounds reasonable now but man, that was a fortune in 1996 or whenever). It was a pretty screwy system.

    Cambridge Screwed Up Rent Control

    People were advertising multi-thousand dollar rewards for rent-controlled units in Cambridge in the 1980s. Landlords weren't able to fix units because they didn't have the money, yet couldn't get the rent increases to cover their expenses to make units more habitable and fix dangerous conditions.

    The Mayor and the City Councilors in Cambridge were pretty much all living in rent-controlled apartments, so they had a vested interest in making no changes to the system. Many others were staying where they were, despite no longer being students and banking large amounts of money now that they were professionals getting lawyer and doctor salaries. People were so outraged at the way the system was being abused by people with means, and so frustrated with how Cambridge refused to change the system, that they resorted to a referendum that screwed it all up for even those cities and towns that were means testing and had safeguards for landlords.

    When rent control ended, a realtor friend of mine in Arlington told me that she made a lot of money because all these professionals who had lived in rent controlled apartments suddenly showed up with $50-$100K in their pockets from money they banked during rent control.

    That is why rent control ended. Had Cambridge not become a poster-child for a corrupt system, it might have continued to serve more noble purposes elsewhere.

    It is a mixture if rental units and ownership

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    "The housing at Coppersmith Village will be a mix of affordable and market rate units, both rental and ownership: of the 56 apartments, 34 will be available to households at 60% AMI and below; of the 15 townhomes, three will be sold to households at 80% AMI or below. Of the rentals, the remaining 22 units, or 39%, will be market rate; of the townhomes, 12 homes, or 80%, will be market rate. "



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    These better actually be "affordable". Often times their definition of affordable is a little bit off. They recently built a couple new buildings here to replace some from fires and collapsed buildings, and priced the apartments basically double what the neighborhood averages are. I like East Boston as it is, I don't want them to try to get rid of the Latin population and replace it with more yuppies.


    I came from the cabal meeting last night. We did decided to focus on the removal of fifth generation "Irish" families from South Boston with people priced out of Somerville first and increasing the gun violence along the Blue Hill Avenue corridor. We have a shipment of guns from NH and VT coming in next week to get ready for Spring.

    The removal of Salvadoran and Columbian immigrants from East Boston was tabled and sent back to committee for further study, so you don't have to worry for now. (Maniacal laugh, Maniacal laugh).

    Origin of the guns from north or south?

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    my only possible quibble with your otherwise delightfully sarcastic comment concerns the origin of the guns - whilst I realize that VT in particular has very loose gun laws, isn't it still the case that most of the crime-related weapons recovered in Boston come from the South (and Georgia in particular)? Anyone have the numbers on that?

    Follows the interstate drug

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    Follows the interstate drug trade from the South from which Atlanta is a major hub because of the highways. The same people responsible for the illegal drug trade is responsible for the illegal arms trade. Plenty of DEA/FBI reports on this.

    yes of course

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    how stupid and ignorant of anyone to believe that realtors and landowners would ever think of colluding to manipulate land use patterns and investments for their own benefit. That'd neeever happen.

    The housing at Coppersmith

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    The housing at Coppersmith Village will be a mix of affordable and market rate units, both rental and ownership:
    of the 56 apartments, 34 will be available to households at 60% AMI and below;
    of the 15 townhomes, three will be sold to households at 80% AMI or below.

    Of the rentals, the remaining 22 units, or 39%, will be market rate; of the townhomes, 12 homes, or 80%, will be market rate.

    2013 Income
    HH Size 60% AMI 80% AMI
    1 $39,650 $52,850
    2 $45,300 $60,400
    3 $51,000 $67,950
    4 $56,650 $75,500
    5 $61,150 $81,550
    6 $65,700 $87,600
    7 $70,250 $93,650
    8 $74,750 $99,700

    Maximum Affordable Sales Price
    Bedrooms 80% AMI
    Studio $133,600
    1 $161,600
    2 $189,600
    3 $217,600
    4 $245,700

    Maximum Affordable Rents
    Bedrooms 60% AMI
    Studio $878
    1 $1,024
    2 $1,170
    3 $1,317
    4 $1,463

    SRC: http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/getattachment/f63a5025-d00f-...
    SRC: http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/opportunities-properties/aff...

    affordable? lol

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    Everything is relative. They consider $2,000 per month affordable in Boston.

    Easiest way to get around

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    Easiest way to get around higher rents in eastie.. pack more and more people in a single apartment. It's being done now and still will be after this project is completed.

    Hell Yeah!

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    I rent a room in someone else's apartment. The last building I lived in had like 30-40 people in it (4 story decker)

    Coppersmith Village

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    Has to take the cake for the dumbest, most twee-sounding name ever conceived for a development in an actual city.


    To pay rent, residents will have to sell off their (copper) pot to piss in, then make another.


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    If I can't have my casino, then they can't have more housing!


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    Was thinking the same thing. Southie--now with more shoreline, fewer transport options, fewer trees, and as a special bonus--PLANES!

    There's a lot to love about Eastie--I almost moved there a long time ago--but it will always have some serious limitations.

    I don't think you're giving

    I don't think you're giving Eastie enough credit. The view of the city from some of those properties is gorgeous. The Blue Line has been completely rebuilt in the last 10 years. Maverick Square is pretty walkable from much of the neighborhood inside 1A and the 120 serves Jefferies Point and Orient Heights fairly well at funneling them to nearby T stations. The Big Dig created a third tunnel to funnel most of the airport traffic away from the neighborhoods and a large system of parks, which seem to be pretty well utilized by the locals. My understanding is that there is a ferry service in the works that will take people between Eastie and the Seaport/Downtown.

    There's a lot to like there and I think the neighborhood has a lot of good fundementals going for it.

    The X factor is the airport and I'm not naive, there certainly will be a lot of people who would never consider Eastie because of it, regardless of whether or not their concerns are founded or unfounded. Truthfully, based on the angles of the runways, I'm not even sure how many planes are flying over Maverick/Jefferies Point. FWIW, I live in Winthrop now and lived on Bennington Street in Revere before. The planes were/are there, but truthfully, I can't say that I really notice them. If I was in the position to buy/rent into that neighborhood, the aiport probably wouldn't scare me away, certainly not when weighed against some of the other additions to the neighborhood.

    Don't get me wrong.

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    I like East Boston. I used to spend a lot of time there and looked at a ton of places to buy, including some amazing 19th century houses. And I actually think that the noise from planes is overblown. But the geographic limits are real and the lack of green space and trees just isn't my thing (too many people paving over their yards for parking spots). Not to mention it's the poorest neighborhood in Boston and it just seems as if the development is going to make it very have-or-have-not-ish. I remember being shown a tiny two-family--maybe 4 bedrooms altogether--and counting seventeen beds/mattresses--everywhere, living rooms, basement. It was basically a dorm for illegal Brazilians and I remember thinking what a sh*theel I'd feel like if I had to turn them all out.

    Can you elaborate more on the

    Can you elaborate more on the geographic limits? I would argue that a person living in Orient Heights, Jefferies Point, or Maverick Square could be downtown in much shorter time that someone living on Telegraph Hill or City Point in Southie.

    Trust me--I never wanted to live in Southie!

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    They're probably the same distance-wise from downtown. But for someone like me without a car, I was just off put by the idea of only having one route home. No buses, no walking. It's as much psychological as anything else. I like walking or biking everywhere. I like having a "village" but I like being able to cross easily into the next one and to see how one neighborhood connects to the next one. I realized in the end that it wasn't going to work for me, even though I could have gotten more house for my money than I eventually did in JP.

    Andrew, Broadway

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    Andrew and Broadway can get you to downtown fast.

    Why not more murders?

    "Not to mention it's the poorest neighborhood in Boston..." So it should have the highest crime and murder rate if what we have heard about "economic injustice" causing crime. Has anyone at Harvard done a study to explain it and how more low income neighborhoods can become more safe?

    Two Main Reasons

    1) Far too isolated from the "Blue Hill/Dorchester Avenue Corridor" of gangs and drugs.

    2) Preexisting conditions. Unfortunately about the only thing European immigrants share with most of their Caribbean immigrant brethren these days is language. Let's say you're in your late teens. You pack up with your parents and leave your home in Portugal or Cape Verde and join your relatives already living in East Boston or Mattapan, respectively. Coming from Portugal, and now living in East Boston, you're going to assimilate into the school system as best you can and help out with whatever your relatives' family business is. Coming from Cape Verde, and now living in Mattapan: "Welcome to the gang!!!!" Both "low income" neighborhoods; completely different mentality.

    I have a friend who's a Transit Police officer--he and others do youth outreach programs in the Roxbury/Dorchester Area. He says you have to break the cycle with these kids--and that's what they are--kids. When you grow up in an environment where drugs and violence is how you put food on the table and a roof over your head, that's all you know. And the ones that don't get killed or locked up forever and have children just continue the cycle. Mayor Walsh says fixing this is going to be a "priority" over the next four years--we'll see!!

    "When you grow up in an

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    "When you grow up in an environment where drugs and violence is how you put food on the table and a roof over your head"

    Nope, the government pays for their food and housing. It's why they don't work and have plenty of time and money to get into the drug and arms trade.

    Notice how everyone else in their neighborhood which isn't into crime is a hardworking poor person never in trouble with the law?

    We can only hope

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    the Yuppies will start moving to Eastie and start telling the Italians and Guatemalans how to live and run their lives.


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    mostly it is Salvadoreans and Colombians here now, but dear God I hope the yuppies stay away!! In the past couple years I have noticed quite a few more here though.

    Back in the 1800's

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    People that walked for their primary mode of transportation used to bitch and complain about those who owned a horse and buggy. They're taking up too much of the road, they have no respect foe pedestrians, the horse shit is all over the street etc etc.
    Some things don't change.

    CDC has been providing

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    CDC has been providing housing for the unfortunate for decades in East Boston, a great thing for the neighborhood,There are many units being built right now on Havre street near Tunnel entrance and the old EBNHC, a vacant lot that has not been used since sept 1983 , previously a furniture shop that was gutted by fire in 1983, CDC bought the land at a reduced priced and is now , I guess building a 7 unit building that is almost completed. East Boston has a population that is continuing to grow, many of the residents depend on low rental housing, without people like the CDC, East Boston would not be a welcoming place for new low income people who can't afford the escalating rental rates that private homeowners have to offer. The new yuppie that just moved in the neighborhood if he or she is making a complaint on how the building is going to look like, he or she can move back to the Fenway.

    So... you think a low income

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    So... you think a low income family can afford new construction rental prices? That makes no sense. Most middle class families I know can't afford new construction rental prices.