106-unit apartment building off American Legion Highway in Roslindale wins approval

The Board of Appeal today unanimously approved variances needed for construction of a three-to-four-story apartment building off Walk Hill and Canterbury streets that will include a neighborhood shuttle bus to the Forest Hills T stop and money to help middle-income people buy homes in Roslindale and Mattapan.

The $32-million Walk Hill Residences, which would replace an existing floral shop, restaurant space and single-family home, will include 106 apartments - 12 affordable - and 147 parking spaces, most in an underground garage.

Developers Nabil Boghos, Charles Gill and Michael Biszko will put $410,000 in a Department of Neighborhood Development fund specifically for helping middle-income people buy homes in Roslindale and Mattapan and $50,000 into a city fund aimed at installing street measures to slow traffic. They will also work with the city to change the light sequences at the intersection of Walk Hill and American Legion and clean up and preserve the brook that runs along American Legion.

The mayor's office and City Councilor Michael Flaherty supported the project, which is roughly 30% smaller than the one originally proposed for the site.

The BPDA approved the proposal earlier this month.

Richard Heath, a Jamaica Plain resident who participated in a BPDA review of the project, praised the developers for both shrinking the overall size and working to increase the number of rental units in a part of the city that needs them.

But city councilors Andrea Campbell (Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale) and Anissa Essaibi-George (at large) joined with nearby residents who opposed the project.

Rick Yoder, co-chair of the Mt. Hope/Canterbury Neighborhood Association, said the number of parking spaces is simply too low in a neighborhood where people are forced to own cars because the public transportation is so poor, and predicted many of the building's residents will try to park on nearby streets.

He said he was also concerned that the developers would continue to maintain the green space along American Legion Highway, which he said is officially a parkway, not a highway.

Other residents said building remains too massive for a neighborhood of single-family, duplex and triple-decker buildings.

Faith Girdler said that the building would tower over nearby trees. She paraphrased Joyce Kilmer: "I'm sure I will never see, a condo park, as lovely as a tree."

Eugenie Williams said a large apartment building violates BPDA planning guidelines that call for new structures to be "compatible" with their surrounding neighborhood.

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Comments

"NIMBY" is just becoming a

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"NIMBY" is just becoming a meaningless phrase now against any reasonable remark about large developments.

Pointing out real parking issues and scale to surroundings is not always NIMBYism.

People who think that a bunch of housing needs to be built everywhere sound resentful. Housing isn't going to be affordable everywhere.

Complaining about a lack of housing doesn't mean neighbors remarks aren't relevant.

As lovely as a tree...

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There are 3 garden cemeteries, a wildlife refuge, Franklin Park, and Arnold Arboretum within walking distance to the build site.

Holy Gaia, get a hold of yourself, people.

Looking beyond your "backyard"

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It is as if NIMBYs can't open a map and see the forest for their obsession with specific non-remarkable trees.

Compatible

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Anything that is under 4 stories near a transit station is NOT compatible with the neighborhood.

Hooray for more housing!

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I've got mine but the next generation has been priced out of Boston, so I'm delighted to see more apartments, condos, whatever, in hopes that prices will moderate. I used to live in that neighborhood and I think that corner is an excellent site for condos.

This is not a NIMBY issue

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It's an infrastructure issue.

If there were good alternatives to driving (sorry, but the shuttle bus is not a good alternative) then this project would make sense. But it is too much too far from where new people can live without mucking up the transportation of the area.

The environmental issue (i.e. making sure there is green along the parkway) is a valid one, but one that can be overcome.

Have those who think this is NIMBY ever been to this intersection? I usually support new development in Roslindale, but this one just doesn't belong where it is proposed. Density is great, just not in the middle of nowhere.

Everywhere is the middle of

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Everywhere is the middle of nowhere until density is added. That intersection has the potential to become a village center.

Transportation?

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Its a one mile walk to Forest Hills. A shuttle (or bus line) would be fine.

The spot looks, to me, a

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fine one as any other, my friend.

And every spot is in the middle of somewhere.

Ya see the problem is if enough NIMBYs find fault with every new build you know what happens? NOTHING GETS BUILT!

So, yes, it is a NIMBY issue (first, too large, now not right area).

Give. it. a rest.

Not everything can be built.

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Neighborhood size are relevent to neighbors.

Give it a rest with the NIMBYism complaints about practical remarks.

Good argument.

Good argument.

Would you change your mind if the spot had MBTA bus service all day, 7 days a week?

I think the project as constituted poses valid concernst: It doesn't have T service and it's parking solution extends well beyond the curb of the block it's built on.

Transportation solutions have to be built into housing development, duh. We should also build-in energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, roof top solar for example. We choose to solve only one problem, new supply of places to live, and say we'll work the rest out later.

It does have bus service

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But the 14 is a commuter's nightmare.

But yes, if there was, say, a bus line that connected Forest Hills to Mattapan via Walk Hill Street that ran with the frequency of, for example, the #50 bus, I would think that this is a reasonable proposal. Otherwise, this proposal does nothing but hurt the area.

And as for those who think that this would be the beginning of some kind of development boom to the area, please, look at a map. There's a cemetery behind it, a cemetery across the street from it. Diagonally across the street is the Boston Nature Center, which means that the boat for development sailed when the plan for redevelopment of Boston State Hospital was drawn up. Behind the Wendys across the street? Another cemetery. Trust me, this will never be the center of anything. It's a nice spot, but geography means something.

Walkhill Bus - Great Idea

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Buses use Walkhill as a shortcut from Mattapan Station to Forest Hills Station often. The beginning of Walk Hill is pretty narrow making a regular bus route kinda dicey.

Transit is a Chicken/Egg Situation

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The city doesn't run more bus routes/better transit to this area because there isn't many people living there.

Then, when you try to build to allow more people to live there, people say you can't because there isn't enough transit.

One of the sides has to make a first move and it certainly isn't going to be the MBTA. There has to be a bit of "if you build it, they will come" to developing areas like this.

Plus the shuttle bus will be

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Plus the shuttle bus will be there, demonstrating in cold hard trip seat numbers a desire for transit. Half the MBTA was built by private sources running shuttles, trollies, all kind of transportation, which then got slowly absorbed by what we know as the T now. No reason they couldn't use this shuttle as a seed.

Nice

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It's great to see housing being approved for other sections of the City other than Southie. Doesn't City Hall understand not everyone can live in So Boston?

100 Apartments = Nightmare at Intersection

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Walkhill is backed up EVERY day at American Legion Highway going towards Forest Hill Station. Adding 100+ apartments will be a nightmare for anyone traveling in that area.

BTW, the #14 (which is the only bus that services the area) does not run regularly enough to support that amount of people.

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