JP building now used by artists to be replaced by residential units - and some artists' space

The Board of Appeal today approved a developer's plan to replace a one-story industrial building at 114-120 Brookside Avenue that now houses 10 studios for artists and artisans and replace it with a four-story building with nine residential units and three commercial spaces.

Developer Brookside Green LLC says it will keep the rents in the new artist's units at current rents for 15 years.

Although one current tenant supported the plan, another opposed it, saying the number of units means less artisans in the space and that it violates the proposed JP/Roxbury zoning revisions that call for the building to remain non-residential.

The mayor's office and City Councilors Matt O'Malley and Michael Flaherty supported the proposal.

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Comments

Zoning - where's BPDA?

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Well, here we are again. Another opportunity taken to eliminate a cultural use in the city. Where is the BPDA on this? Are they not charged with preserving the cultural character of a place as well as the city's economic value and diversity?

"In partnership with communities, the BPDA plans Boston’s future while respecting its past. By guiding physical, social, and economic change in Boston’s neighborhoods, the BPDA seeks to shape a more prosperous, resilient and vibrant city for all."

The other 7 artists will just move and become placeholders in the next neglected neighborhood. The BPDA does nothing but inconvenience developers for no apparent benefit to anyone. Why are the politicians protecting them?

Jamaica Plain, say goodbye to one of the things that made you cool.

Artists

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I don't understand. Why should the artists get special treatment? The artists should get a job in finance and still do paper mache or Spirograph on the weekends. Then JP is affordable for them. Boom, problem solved.

I know you're being sarcastic

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I know you're being sarcastic but I also want to point out that AFAIK most of the tenants here weren't actually artists, just relatively low-margin small businesses for whom making rent in a new building is definitely going to be a struggle.

I'm sorry but no

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The fault for this situation rests entirely with the neighborhood associations.

This developer had originally proposed a larger building that was slated to include space for the original tenants to return and stay indefinitely at their original rent but in order to make that work financially he was going to build a 5 story building with 24 units (including 5 affordable live/work spaces) a single shared parking space and the planning department seemed quite ready to sign off on this plan. But the Brookside Neighborhood Association fought tooth and nail, first to prevent the JP/ROX plan from allowing more than 4 stories on that block and then--once they won that fight--to prevent this developer from being granted an exception to that rule.

Faced with the choice of having this fight with the neighborhood or building a smaller "as of right" project that would be too small to trigger the article 80 review process, the developer chose the latter. The JP Neighborhood Council, for all of their concerns about affordability in larger projects, generally rubber stamps small projects even with zero affordability.

The latter process is actually how most of the million dollar condos in JP get built. The only difference with this project is that the developer tried to do the "right thing" the first time around and I think he learned the hard way why most developers around here don't even bother.

Also, not sure where you got the bit about JP/ROX calling for the building to remain non-residential. Some neighbors certainly asked for that but no such recommendation was included in the final plan.

Artists used against neighborhood

A 5 story building would set a precedent for the next proposal.
Personally as part of a profession where integrity is supposed to mean something, and measurement of integrity is entirely self policed, I'm kind of sick of being used this way.

Precedent

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Would the precedent be to have developers attempt to keep all current tenants while still building housing? Because that sounds like a mighty fine precedent to me. Nobody is using you as a tool. It sounds like the developer offered to keep all artists and small businesses at their same rents and do a development on upper floors. Neighborhood groups gave them backlash, developers went back with a smaller proposal. Rather than the developers using artists for anything, it sounds like the neighborhood is against artists remaining in order to protect their current height/density.

Housing development as conceptual art project

Next door to this property is a three deck house and they didn't want a five story building going up a few feet away. The developer wanted to use the artists as a sob story to build higher. He then used one artist against the others.

The neighborhood doesn't care that much about the artists. Maybe that's the artist's fault for not making better art.

Maybe the whole drama is a conceptual art project to show the emptiness of bullshit "arts", leftish community organizing, housing uber alles zealotry, and meritocratic capitalism all in one.

I don't understand where

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I don't understand where artists get their clout to demand any studio space reserved for themselves.

Boston's phony support for "The Arts"

Same as everything else around here. Window dressing for my diverse urban lifestyle. Keep enough artists, spanishy folks, down-and-outs around so I can still have contempt for the suburbs. But don't expect me to actually buy the art.

The Thing Is....

I really don't need that sequin covered handbag you have been working on all year in order for to get a huge break on your rent.

A lot of art can be great. How should I put it, "crafts" that are assembled from materials picked up at Michael's, or your wire and stone earrings you made the other night shouldn't be enough for you to go below market rent, thereby skewing the rent for everyone else.

If you are good, people will buy your art, and therefore you can get to pay your rent. Your desire to "paint" and listen to Edith Piaf or Sylvan Esso while getting high on a Tuesday afternoon, does not make you a more entitled member of society that requires a break on what everyone else is paying market rate for today.

There are lots of artists who can have their studio space and pay the rent. I know guys who are union workers who paint on the weekends in their garage, people who share cheap space in old mills in the suburbs, and people who actually make a living with their work.

Sorry if I am sounding mean, but I have been to too many open studios that have made me think that I should get in on this scam post haste.

Just don't claim to support the arts

Unfortunately there is very little information for an artist to respond to a market here if the level of buying is so miniscule. It's hard to find out what sells and what doesn't. Overall I agree. But then we have to admit that Boston has no claim to be more arts-supporting or educated than Salem NH or Warwick RI or Indianapolis or 100 other places.

And I don't think taxing people to build artist spaces is supporting artists. It's strange that when it comes to supporting artists, the idea goes immediately to pay a builder to keep the artist in town, rather than buying the art so they can live wherever they want.

Correction To Original Post

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A correction: the plan is not for nine residential units and three artist's studios, it's nine residential units and three commercial units. It's possible these units could become commercial spaces in which artists do work if artists apply to lease these commercial spaces and are approved as lessees, but it is not accurate to represent the three commercial spaces in the developer's plan as artists studios.

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