Southie housing developers now tearing down housing to build housing

With no more bars left to tear down and with more and more gas stations and factories on their way out, developers are now looking at buying up and tearing down single-family homes in South Boston to replace with multi-unit buildings, Caught in Southie reports.

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    Good. The whole metro area

    By on

    Good. The whole metro area could stand to see more multifamily housing. And 3-6 units is a totally reasonable size for even a mostly-single-family neighborhood.

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    Greater Boston

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    is FULL of multi-family housing. In many Boston neighborhoods they are the norm.

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    Boston is a city, so

    Boston is a city, so multifamily housing should be the "norm" in all neighborhoods. It is single family homes that should be the exception.

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    You do realize

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    there are suburban type mostly single family home neighborhoods even in NYC? Have you ever been to Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Denver, the list is endless.... all these big cities have neighborhoods with majority single family homes. Boston overall is quite heavily urbanized compared to most large cities.

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    Ummm

    You do realize all the cities you mentioned are huge (in land size) compared to Boston. The comparison between Boston and other cities in terms of density is meaningless.

    Boston = 48.42 sq mi
    NYC = 302.643 sq mi
    Portland (OR) = 133 sq mi
    LA = 469 sq mi

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    Thank you.

    By on

    I posted something similar below.

    People that grow up in the burbs don't get city living because there entire town in the same from border to border.

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    You do realize

    By on

    That you are wrong about single family housing in the urban core in Seattle and Portland and Denver? You know - other cities that grew explosively in the streetcar era?

    LA, Atlanta, Houston are all post-car era. Denver, Seattle, and Portland are not.

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    Why not?

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    Look what's next door to that house and across the street from it - a couple of large, bland 3 story apartment buildings.
    Sure, it would be great if the neighborhood still looked like a New England fishing village but that train left the station years and years ago. If a developer wants to put up a 2-3 family condo that is not out of line with what's already in the neighborhood (in other words, please no 10-story condo building) I don't see the problem. It's the City of Boston, not the Village of Boston.

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    Ah yes.

    By on

    It's the City of Boston, not the Village of Boston.

    It's the "hey we live in a city! Every street within city limits can be treated like Landsodwne St after a SOx game! more bars! more high rises!" myth.

    Every city has residential sections and neighborhoods to it and Boston is no different. This area of South Boston is a residential area. The only thing that should be built here is a small park or a single family home. South Boston does not need any more 1-2 bedroom condos or apartments. There are plenty.

    - A South Boston Community member.

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    Agreed

    By on

    One of the few times I've agreed with you SoBo-Yuppie.

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    Asian cities don't have the

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    Asian cities don't have the barriers to growth like what we have here.

    The "suburbs" of Bombay were mostly 1-3 story buildings 70 years ago. Over time they've gotten taller and taller. They're still called suburbs even though they are full of 25 story high rises.

    This is one of the "features" of a government where you can grease palms to get things done.

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    India, China, etc.,

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    are GROSSLY overpopulated countries roughly the same geographical size as the U.S. The U.S. doesn't need to be so extreme.

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    Your argument is bad and you should feel bad

    There are not "plenty" like you state. Do you deny that Boston has a housing shortage and that people are struggling to find affordable housing? Or is it not your problem since you already own a home? Many of the buildings around this house are multi-family already. It's not like it's "out of character of the neighborhood." Why are you talking about high-rises? The building proposed is three stories - less than the adjacent building.

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    Your argument is bad.

    By on

    There are not "plenty" like you state. Do you deny that Boston has a housing shortage and that people are struggling to find affordable housing?

    Please come visit South Boston and then tell me there are not plenty of 1 and 2 bedroom places.

    Boston does not have a housing crises. I can show you plenty of places to live in Boston that are affordable. Crap, I'd like to live in Back Bay but can't afford it. Let developers buy out single family homes so they can knock them down and build taller places and bring down costs for me!

    For those that don't know...when a Back Bay property comes up for sale developers don't bid on them because they know they can't knock them down and build bigger. The city won't let them do it. So the city shouldn't let them do it in South Boston.

    - An actual resident of South Boston unlike most people commenting here.

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    Residential != single-family

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    Residential means people live there, at whatever level of density it's zoned for. This being a city, that density is pretty high, so developers stand to make the most money by building larger developments, and the people who want to live in Southie benefit from having access to more housing stock.

    The notion of single-family homes being the norm in a city is absurd. Multi-family residences or larger apartment buildings are the way to build density and ease the pressure on housing stock.

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    Wat

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    South Boston does not need any more 1-2 bedroom condos or apartments. There are plenty.

    500sqft apartments are renting for $2200 in 100 year old row houses and tripple deckers. $435k to own. Up 8% since fall, even with new housing coming on line.

    Market says your opinion is simply false.

    Pretty soon we'll see the very rich buying up multifamilies and converting them back into single family brownstones / row houses as well, as is happening in other cities.

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    "Pretty soon we'll see the

    By on

    "Pretty soon we'll see the very rich buying up multifamilies and converting them back into single family brownstones / row houses as well, as is happening in other cities."

    This already is happening in Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and the South End!

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    not enough one bedroom and studio apartments

    South Boston had zero studios when I first moved there, and it was hard to find a reasonable one bedroom too. I live in Dorchester, now and they have even less. People seem to believe that single people in small non subsidized reasonable priced units are transients or students. But in fact it is the students and twenty somethings that rent 4 bedroom apts that make the worst neighbors. People that live alone go out to socialize, and come home to work and sleep.

    This specific house is a weird example. It is surrounded by apartment buildings that have at least 6 units. I have heard of the endangered south boston single family panic, but I can't sympathize.

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    This is true

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    Depending on the size and age of the housing stock, studio/one bedrooms in Southie under 650sqft are going for $700-$900/sqft.

    As you go larger it drops to $550-$650.

    It's a huge difference and priced to reflect how little supply is there.

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    Problem

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    There isn't enough street parking in South Boston now. Replacing single-family dwellings with apartment buildings will likely exacerbate the problem.

    Suldog
    http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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    So?

    Should there not be any new development, ever?

    The space is finite. There's no way of increasing housing units, increasing the amount of parking, and decreasing the amount of street congestion all within the same footprint. It's fine if you don't think they should add units but you can't complain about housing prices or people being "forced out" by rising rents and property taxes.

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    Should there not be any new

    Should there not be any new development, ever?

    There are plenty of people who believe that the world was perfect in whatever year it was when they were 25 years old and that nothing should change, ever. Including construction of new housing.

    It's amazing that a place like Massachusetts that's so progressive in other regards is so reactionary when it comes to things like housing and the character of neighborhoods.

    Tear down all the condos! Kick out all the yuppies and hipsters!

    Make Massachusetts Great Again!

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    They're required to have some

    By on

    They're required to have some on-site parking. Most of these projects increase the number of spaces in the neighborhood. But also, yuppies don't tend to have cars.

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    If you can't fix the bus...

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    Maybe the real solvable issue, if you can't add transport capacity to the bus lines, is to decrease the need to use them. More employers, for office jobs that are mostly digital in nature, should be encouraging telecommuting. Or staggering office hours [if absolutely needed] to not put everyone traveling at the same time.

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    Telecommuting

    Of course, if you don't need to frequently go to an office downtown it negates a major reason why people want to live downtown in the first place -- so they'd have a short commute.

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    MBTA stuck in "rush hour only" mentality

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    If you have the ability to shift your schedule, you very quickly discover how deeply service at mid-morning to mid-afternoon has been cut.

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    ding ding ding

    Areas near the city center must add density. It's the only way out of this housing crisis.

    Not enough parking? Then demand better transit.

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    So You Will Back Me Up?

    Are you going to back me up when I propose a 58-story, 278 unit, tower across from Stony Brook station? Perhaps a 23-story tower on the Bicon site at the Cemetery Rotary? Steps to Forest Hills you know. How about 68 units of micro-housing on that site that got stymied a few years ago overlooking Jamaica Pond?

    There is density and then there is quality of life.

    I'm not defending Laxbro-Sur-Le-Mer and the development frenzy and NIMBYism that has come with it, but somebody once wanted to turn Columbia Road facing the water into a Miami Beach style row of high rises. All we got was the crappy Soviet Worker's Resort Building known as Bay Towers. Do you want to see more of them?

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    come on

    58 stories is an awfully tall strawman.

    But the short answer to your question is yes. There's plenty of development going on around me and I'm fine with it. JP is a nice place to live and more people should be able to live here.

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    The industrial/warehouse area

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    The industrial/warehouse area around Jackson Sq is zone for much taller buildings than are proposed, but the non-profit developer doesn't have the financial backing to build tall. Such a lost opportunity with little to no current residential abutters. Things like this are the actual problem.

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    Can't speak for SC

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    but I live about a block from Stony Brook, and I enthusiastically support building up that area, as it's criminally underused. The developments down near Forest Hills are a perfect model--midrise construction that packs hundreds of units into an acre, just a few steps from a major transit hub. There's some precedent for high-rises nearby (the tower in Egleston Square is the only one I can think of off the top of my head, but IIRC it has no dedicated parking), so I'd be on board with it if it didn't completely bisect the neighborhood. If people don't like the traffic, they can ditch the car and ride the train. Why else would they pay the premium to live on a train line?

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    Simple solution

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    Limit the number of cars allowed to get street parking. Handicap first, then either put a price on it or limit vehicles to one per unit.

    No more of this "sixteen stickers per family - most given to commuters from the burbs so they can park in the Seaport or park and ride" nonsense.

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    You tell us

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    What is the limit on the number of stickers per residence.

    Waiting ...

    I know people who do this - the added cost of registering the car in Southie at your rental property or your parent's rental property is massively offset by the free parking.

    What would you know about it - you live in the suburbs.

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    WHYYYYYYY is parking free in

    By on

    WHYYYYYYY is parking free in boston??? WHY. It's not even our typical regionalism "nobody understands our unique problems" because Somerville and Cambridge both manage to do it and it works real well for them! They also have a much better solution vis a vis guest parking (temporary paper permits you put in the dash instead of designated spots that get ate up by people working in the area)

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    There are solutions to the on

    By on

    There are solutions to the on-street parking crunch that don't involve stopping all new construction. One solution is to make residents of new developments ineligible for on-street resident parking permits. Another solution is to charge a yearly or monthly fee for a permit. When on-street parking is free, it's almost guaranteed to be overused.

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    Are in the union?

    Or just from Southie? Did you really say residential parking stickers should be denied for new residents? The division between new and old residents causes enough problems without codifying it.

    Another solution is to remove residential parking from the rich neighborhoods and replace them with meters. That way all the maids, bartenders and security guards can afford to drive to their night jobs. People that can afford to live in Southie, Charlestown, Back Bay, South End and Beacon Hill can afford to rent parking.

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    And what about all of the

    By on

    And what about all of the poorer people (home health aids, multi-modal commuters, house cleaners, contractors) that might need to park there as guests? I suspect many of the wealthiest people are already parking in driveways.

    That being said, the city has limited dollars that it can spend to subsidize things, and allowing parking to be cheap and/or free is one of the most poorly targeted subsidies that exists. Just make everyone pay what it's worth and be done with it. Use the money to improve services for the homeless, sidewalk ADA compliance, school lunches, etc.

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    I named the wealthy neighborhoods in my post

    residential parking severe limits guest parking to prevent any commuter from using it. Meters will collect revenue and limit times so to increase retail traffic. I guess you agree with me?

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    Guest permits are a thing

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    Guest permits are a thing that Somerville and Cambridge manage to do pretty effectively. I don't know why Boston seems to be incapable of running such a program. And, really? You'd break it down by named neighborhoods? You know that there are parts of the South End and Southie that are still quite poor, right? And what about neighborhoods like West Roxbury that are generally quite wealthy but where single family "snob" zoning tends to mean that on street parking is plentiful?

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    Which one of us is a snob?

    What part of non bha southie and the south end are poor?

    Residential parking is snob parking. It hurts retailers and their employees.

    Guest parking is trivial in comparison.

    Most bha properties have parking. The ones that don't should restrict their street parking.

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    Not if they tear down,

    By on

    Not if they tear down, rebuild and add a garage on the ground level.

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    Wait

    By on

    Did I miss an update to the 311 app that lets you know the age and social demographic of the person who submitted the complaint? Or are you just throwing crap against the wall to try and make yourself feel better?

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    Eventually, but not yet

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    IMHO, it will take some outside calamity (the next recession or big financial collapse) to bring a turnaround in housing prices. Right now the local economy is firing on all cylinders, so until that changes, anything like a crash is unlikely.

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    Move to Kansas

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    Where the economy is mismanaged, things will crash.

    MA didn't even crash in 2008 - what makes you think it will soon (other than invisible hand of Covfefe).

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    Say what?

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    No, we didn't have Florida or Nevada levels of recession, but we most certainly lost thousands of jobs and property values actually did go down.

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    Depends on where you lived at the time

    Medford and Somerville saw very little if any loss. I refinanced at that time and my home value had stalled briefly over the winter but my house didn't lose any value. My neighborhood's sales never slowed, and the solicitations from realtors didn't either. If you live in an extremely convenient area, demand still exceeded supply.

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    Boston Neighborhoods

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    The places on fire now never took a hit either.

    Prices only stopped rising, and development stopped which is contributing to the price increases now.

    Dorchester and Roxbury saw foreclosures and prices swing down, but we've also seen prosecution for predatory lending there were people that should never have gotten loans were being targeted by the vultures doing business in places like FL or Vegas. That created some uncertainty, but even those areas have fully recovered.

    Now maybe the great depression 2 is coming next and will effect everyone, but we're still digging out of the housing supply hole of 2008-2012.

    A normal recession is only going to slow development, not demand as more jobs move to the metro Boston. Regardless of housing or the economy, Boston is expecting 130,000 more residents by 2030. They'll need a roof over their head one way or another.

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    Prices didn't go down in

    By on

    Prices didn't go down in Boston after the worst recession in 70 years. I don't see it happening anytime soon.

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    Exactly.

    By on

    but people say 'oh look at these cheap condos' and 'im gonna laugh at these yuppies when the market crashes' as a form of medication for their inferiority complex.

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    Inferiority complex?

    No, I will laugh because they will have inevitably failed in their bid to turn human shelter into a profit center.

    Get your nut, I guess, but homebuyers in Boston get no sympathy from me, especially when they show up at meetings to speak against the building of new homes after buying one for themselves.

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    They DID drop, but not like in other places

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    Houses in my Boston neighborhood lost around $100k in value during the last recession, but have since more than recovered and are currently at an unsustainable level.

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    Be prepared to hold your

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    Be prepared to hold your breath at least ten years. By that time the "crash" will bring prices down to about 150% of what they are today.

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    Good.

    Concerns like neighborhood character and parking need to be weighed against the citywide housing crisis. One is more important than the others.

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    This house is an odd ball

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    This house detracts from the character of the neighborhood. It sticks out like a sore thumb. It was built in the 1960s when living in a multi-family was out of favor. It's the opposite of a McMansion: a house too small and suburban for its urban neighborhood. It needs to go. I'd support a 3-family at a minimum to match the rest of Southie.

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    Think about what you are assuming, please.

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    How does building more luxury housing which thereby jacks up the cost of more moderately priced existing housing allleviate housing needs for the working class? Answer: It doesn't. It only makes it worse. Greedy developers get richer and the 1%'ers get another pied-a-terre in what they think is a trendy neighborhood they've seen portrayed in movies.

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    Nice assumption

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    Have any evidence to back it up?

    In many markets, building luxury units pushes down the demand to buy and overrenovate mid-price units.

    Prove that building luxury units new (not gentrifying existing units) pushes prices up. I dare you.

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    This is false

    Building new luxury housing does not jack up the price of moderately priced existing housing. Southie is already unaffordable for most people. When people move into new market rate housing it relieves pressure on older housing stock that is less expensive. Boston will never be affordable for average people until enough units are built to satisfy demand. This is not something that can happen in the blink of an eye. However if people are going to complain whenever a single family house is turned into multiple units, we're never going to solve this problem.

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    It works like this:

    By on

    It works like this:

    I'm a luxury buyer. I have enough money to buy these crazy expensive new units that are coming on the market now. When I show up in Southie, all of the new luxury housing has already been snatched up, so do I look somewhere else? Of course not. After all I work in Fort Point so I still want to be close to the office. So what do I do instead? I buy an old triple-decker (probably evicting the existing tenants paying relatively affordable rents in the process) and I renovate the shit out of it, maybe adding a garage, central AC, a bigger kitchen with Viking range and granite counter tops. Like magic I've used money to make my own luxury housing out of something that used to be naturally affordable. And no one even notices because there wasn't some public process where the neighborhood got the chance to scrutinize how much I was going to spend or whether it would "change the character of the neighborhood."

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    that ship sailed in 2007

    There are 4 multifamilies for sale in south boston and they are all priced over a million. There is a teeny 2 family with 4 bed and 2 bath total for the low low price of 850k

    If by naturally affordable, you mean old and poorly maintained, then you have to see that crappy housing is more expensive and temporary. If it isn't gentrified it will fall down eventually. More housing, with more studios and one bedrooms is the solution.

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    1 unit in a 2 family would

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    1 unit in a 2 family would never cost $425k but for the fact that they are scarce. The reason rich people are able to displace poor people from those buildings (as in my example) is because the shortage causes bidding wars between long-time working class residents and wealthy residents. $425k prices are the result of those bidding wars.

    If it isn't gentrified it will fall down eventually.

    Yes, in the same way that a used car will eventually become undriveable, but in the mean time it provides reasonably serviceable housing for people who cannot afford the cost of new construction. Meanwhile as long as we keep building new housing there should be a steady supply of 10-20 year old housing coming on the market for people that cannot afford to buy new.

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    Do you live in boston?

    10-20 years is new construction in Boston. Most of the 3 family and triple-deckers in South Boston were built 100 years ago.

    All of these places need to be updated. It would better if a non profit could rehab these apartments into more single units that could be reasonably priced. But insisting that new construction is destroying affordable housing is romanticizing a slum.

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    Triple deckers have been

    By on

    Triple deckers have been repurposed since the 90s. What used to be a multigenerational family home turned into a 9 roommate situation with 9 cars on the street. Some of the multifamilies, especially past M street are beautiful old victorians or brick brownstones, but many single families, especially those wedged into zero curb plots on gold street are shacks covered in worn out siding with no parking. If developers are tearing these down, building garages and putting up new structures that better accomodate the way people live today, not 50-100 years ago, then the whole neighborhood benefits from these capital investments.

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    Neighborhood character

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    If you think that is so important, then convince your neighbors in your neighborhood to stop selling to developers.

    Problem solved.

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