Developer says large units in proposed Boylston Street tower need extra parking spaces

Architect's rendering of 1000 Boylston St.

Architect's rendering.

In a filing with the BPDA this week, Weiner Ventures explains why the units in its proposed luxury tower next to the Hynes are so large - and why that means the building needs more parking spaces than the city requires and why it can't put any affordable units in the proposed building.

It all boils down to the financial costs and risks of building a deck over the turnpike to support a key part of the proposed 108-unit building, Weiner says: To make up for that, the company has to attract a ritzier breed of buyers who will pay more than they would elsewhere, and that means giving them roomier condos and garage space in which to stash that second car. Weiner wants to put in 175 parking spaces - 18 for the use of first-floor stores - rather than the 108 the city requires.

In turn, that means the project probably could not succeed by setting aside the required 13% of units - a total of 14 - as "affordable" in part, because there's not possible way to make 2,667-square-foot units in a luxury building affordable by people only making 80% of the area median income. But that's not a bad thing, Weiner continues. The city affordable-housing regulation lets a developer do this if it contributes enough money to buy or build affordable units elsewhere that is equivalent to 18% of the building's total units, and Weiner says it is looking to contribute towards affordable housing in "a central Boston neighborhood to be approved by the BPDA."

Weiner elaborates on the connection between the required turnpike deck and the need for larger units and more parking spaces for the project, which it's shrunk down from its original proposal, which called for two towers, with a total of 160 condos and 182 apartments:

The Project is subject to unique project costs and risks associated with construction over the Turnpike and must meet the requirements of its investors and lenders in order to be successful. Risks include not just the construction and general complexity of the air rights project but also, among others risks, marketability to prospective condominium buyers. Also, assuming that the Project is developed to contain 108 condominium units and only the area within the units themselves is considered (in other words, excluding shared amenities and common area), the average condominium unit will contain 2,667 square feet. This unit size is unusually large for a development within the downtown area and notably larger than most other projects. If the units were traditionally sized, there would be an increased unit count, resulting in significantly more parking spaces than the Project. For example, per BTD guidelines of 1.0 space/condominium unit, if the 288,000 square feet of residential use were developed as more “traditionally-sized” units of 1,000 square feet/unit excluding common areas and amenities, the number of residential parking spaces would be 288 spaces, which is almost double the 157 residential spaces proposed as part of the Project.

The Proponent's market analysis indicates that such a premier residential offering within the Back Bay will only be successfully marketed at the required price points if sufficient parking spaces are available for each residential unit. Further, many of these spaces are expected to be used for vehicle storage by unit owners for a lightly used second vehicle and are not expected to contribute to area traffic, especially during peak commuter periods. At the same time, while the market for a luxury residential condominium building demands such on-site parking for vehicles owned by residents, facilitating public transportation access helps reduce the number of vehicles traveling to and from this building on a daily basis. The Project's proximity to public transportation will allow retail and restaurant patrons and building staff and employees to travel to and from the Project using existing public transportation options, thus reducing the greenhouse gas emissions linked to this building. Accessible public transportation can also reduce commuting costs and help attract and retain building staff and tenant employees. The Proponent also recognizes that parking trends are evolving and changing and that it is hoped that the needs and desires for private vehicles will diminish over the useful life of this Project. Accordingly, the garage floors are being designed with flat floorplates which can be repurposed for other uses, if demand for the parking spaces lessens over the useful life of the Project.

In addition to the BPDA, a city air-pollution board will also have to approve the more-than-required parking spaces; that board meets in June.

In the filing, Weiner says the project would have a number of benefits for the city, including knitting the Back Bay and the Fenway together rather than having them separated by the ugly gash that is the turnpike and Worcester Line tracks and "activating" more of Boylston Street by increasing its potential as a "24/7" area, through new shops on the ground floor and "new residents who will enliven the area on a 24/7 basis."

From the filing:

1000 Boylston St. context
1000 Boylston St. on Boylston Street
1000 Boylston St. from Scotia Street

1000 Boylston St. supplemental filing (37M PDF).

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Comments

$$$

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PLEASE

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Stop saying "affordable" that way. It's politicians' attempt to destroy language, and make it harder for people to talk about the affordability of housing.

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What would you call it

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I put it in quotation marks because "affordable" in the Boston area is really unaffordable for a growing number of people - 80% of our AMI is actually fairly high - and it seemed especially out of touch given the size of the units in this building.

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No, it's not

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Because that was a very specific meaning: Units the government is helping to pay for, and that's not the case with the city's "affordable" requirements.

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Sure

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I think generally that makes sense - although this building itself is kind of special given its an air rights development over the Pike.

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Build, baby, build!

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Who is overseeing the collection of funds set aside for construction of affordable units elsewhere in the city? How do these projects get built and does the BPDA act as project manager?

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This question is worth asking

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This question is worth asking if we care about affordable housing. Where does the money go, how much is the, what is it used for and who decides?

I don't know either, can someone inform us?

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IDP Report

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The BPDA recently published a report on IDP. http://www.bostonplans.org/getattachment/cfeecd1c-e81e-4bd8-927b-da0e6eb... [direct link to pdf].

See page 9 and 11 about where IDP funds go. tl;dr they are used in combination with federal and state funding to build more affordable housing across a wide range of income levels. The Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) and BPDA manage the fund and generally use the money to help local non-profit CDC's build income-restricted housing. Since the inception of the program in 2000, 1,700 income-restricted units were created on-site. With the help of IDP funds, 1,070 income-restricted units were completed, where a good chunk of them are affordable to very low and low income households.

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Immaterial to the parking

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Immaterial to the parking issue, but just taking a look at the renderings for the first time: knowing how packed Boylston Street sidewalks are on the more developed sections, this might be one of those rare areas where less "sidewalk amenities" (planters, benches, etc.) might be a better option than adding them.

Right now this section is relatively narrow sidewalk, but it works (save for the horrible ramp placement for wheelchair users, which this would presumably help a ton with) -- but once there's actual retail frontage, I can see it becoming just as busy as the rest of Boylston and more of a pedestrian logjam.

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enough with the luxe housing for the Trumpster 1%ers!

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Build a more moderate tower for middle income familes who live and work in the city! This glass skyscraper is so out of scale with the height of the rest of the buildings it looks silly. This is a joke, right?

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So out of scale!

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I mean it’s a couple blocks away from the tallest building in New England. Everyone knows the back bay is not for skyscrapers.

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height?

Well, it's a block away from 2 50 story buildings, so what is it out of scale with?

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"Weiner shrunk original

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"Weiner shrunk original proposal which called for two towers...."
Weiner has already cancelled an entire tower on this site.
At some point we receded from greatness to become a stodgy, obsessive community in our architectural pursuits. Including One Dalton, Boston has built 3 impressive residential towers since 1940....
50 Sudbury will be the 4th.
If we ever see a 5th, i'll be very surprised.

my letter to the developer and City for 115 Fed/Winthrop Garage
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpost.php?p=144726994&postcount=875

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Penis Envy

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We do not need nor want more skyscrapers. This misbegotten race to try to emulate Manhattan [which actually has bedrock rather than landfill to build on] is just some sad attempt to make the city more Bladerunnery. We need housing that people with low to middle incomes can live in without said housing being practically in NH or RI.

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Transit Oriented Development, Baby!

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Tell Mr. Bigstuff that instead of parking, we'll save him a spot on an E train. Goes right downtown. Hell, if he changes at Gov Center, it'll even take him to the airport!

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T.O.D.

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is a bullshit term made up by developers so that they don't have to provide parking on their projects. Ask any developer. It can backfire on them ie: the development right next to JFK MBTA station has a bunch of empty units because there are not enough parking spaces and the ones they have are too expensive.

$2700+ for a 1 BR...

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I think the rental rates are issue at the location cited. The price is *unlikely* to get lower if you were to bundle in some parking...

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TOD

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The term TOD was coined by urban planner Peter Calthorpe in the 80s in an effort to promote an alternative to suburban sprawl. It is generally considered to be a fairly effective way to increase transit mode share when done right.

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It currently costs between

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It currently costs between $100k-$150k to build a single parking space in downtown Boston, and especially areas like JFK where you hit water a few feet underground. Sure it can backfire, but if they build too much parking that can backfire too.

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The City Must Put In Bike Lanes On Each Floor!

All kidding aside, the grandson of the guy who suburbanized New England shopping experiences wants to fix one of the two biggest eyesores of the Back Bay with a few more parking spaces that you can't see from the street anyway.

A covering of the Pike might actually get done without anyone having to stuff money into their bra and one less side of that hideous Dalton Street garage gets hidden.

Get it done.

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Just what Boston needs...

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Just what Boston needs... more ultra rich double-parking their Land Rovers and Cadillac SUV's in the bike lane. Build this beast somewhere else.

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C'Mon Adam

Adam - Posting a reply to one of my comments made by Anon is nothing new for you, but posting one that was made 40 minutes before I made my comment, and having nothing to do with my original comment. That's rich.

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Hmm, that's weird

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Unless the reply is, indeed from back in the future, something got bollixed up in the database.

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Where else would you suggest?

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Where else would you suggest? And given that any project that can raise the extra cash required to deck over the expressway is probably going to need to generate pretty substantial profits in order to do so, what would you hope to see instead?

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This is rich...

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There's great public transportation for staff and employees (aka "the little people") right nearby so we won't provide any parking but our wealthy tenants need ALL the parking spaces for their luxury cars.

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They will do what they always do

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They will do what they always do, which is to build the project, which I don't post, and then take all of the affordable housing money and put it to some other neighborhood rather than putting it into the Fenway . They do it every single time. Which means that central Boston neighborhoods are really only going to be for very wealthy. Permanently.

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The money will go to Dorchester

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Fine to build up, but the luxury car parking spaces are very specific in number and the contribution to affordable housing is not. This building will only get built once, so there will be no going back.

Accommodation could have been made in the design to include actual affordable units.

Only the Mayor could intervene to direct the affordable contribution to the Fenway, but its late in the game for that to happen. The money will go to Dorchester or Mattapan.

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Accommodation could have been

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Accommodation could have been made in the design to include actual affordable units.

Don't we have specific rules in this city against designing affordable units that are somehow different than the other units in the building (e.g. no "poor doors" allowed)?

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That's how the market handles

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That's how the market handles housing in a dense space.
Limited Supply & Higher Demand = Higher Prices.

So what if upper middle class and higher live nearer to the city and poorer citizens not as near? Why would that be an awful thing?

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Transit access

So what if upper middle class and higher live nearer to the city and poorer citizens not as near? Why would that be an awful thing?

The best transit access is closer to the city, and poorer people are more likely to need good access to good transit.

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These developers clearly just

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These developers clearly just do not want the affordable units in their buildings... I think they should just be happy that they can get away with putting the units forth as 80 percent aimed mostly at single people and couples. If developers keep pushing then they could see a backfire where activists start demanding they include 3 bedroom 40 percent AMI family units. The less attention they call to themselves the better for their bottom lines.

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Affordable Units

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I am all for forcing developer concessions, but affordable units can become a burden in luxury developments. By forcing 15% of the units to be affordable, it forces the developer to essentially pay a tax by accepting less money for the units. This results in the cost for all of the other units to go up.

On top of that, in a building like this, luxury buyers and tenants simply do not want to deal with the people in the affordable units. Does this often explicitly reek of racism and elitism? Yes absolutely. Does a buyer still have the freedom to choose between a project with on-site affordable units and off-site? Yes.

If you start forcing even more units to be kept at even lower prices, the other units in the building will skyrocket, and the only units available will be for the extremely wealthy, and people who make just enough to qualify by the AMI and are lucky enough to win the lottery.

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Requre the unit's second space to be tandem.

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The second car will only be used occasionally? Great. The second spot must be tandem. That reduces the viability of using two cars every day, and it reduces the amount of garage space necessary [less space for ramps and aisles].

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Give 'em six spots.

So these gold toilet types need *extra* parking while smack in the middle of everything, but Mission Hill's proposed Burney Street building "only needs six spaces" because of the public transportation nearby.

Uh-huh.

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Read.

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Yes, these gold toilet types do need extra parking. Read the explanation.

In a luxury development such as this, many tenants have multiple cars, some they do not use often. To cater to these prospective buyers, the developer wants to build more spaces. He argues that because the second vehicle is not used every day, the extra spaces will impact traffic less than usual, which is a fair statement because many developments get railed against in public meetings because of "traffic". I've personally worked on a project downtown in which adjacent owners were complaining about 14 spaces total and the traffic an extra 14 people living downtown would create...

I feel like I'm always defending developers on here, which personally feels horribly wrong, but the lack of common sense applied to their business from average citizens is mind boggling. Yes developers want to make money. That is their fucking job.

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A great project

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This project was supposed to be much taller with two towers. The NIMBY’s in Backbay eliminated the apartment tower and reduced the height and number of units in the condo tower. The result is fewer residences, fewer affordable housing and less tax dollars for the city. The developer also needs to go seek richer clientele to make money given the risks of decking the pole. The NIMBY’s should share the blame for how this project is shaping up to only be for the ultra rich.

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It Was Effing NOT Supposed to be Taller

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The NIMBYs, as you call them, spent YEARS meeting regularly with city officials to come up with a sensible, appropriate recommendation for developing this parcel. That turned out to be for ONE modest tower, 15 stories high, with no parking. This developer ignored all those years of patient thought and work, and came back with a hideous, overbuilt two-tower plan that would create shadows all the way to the Esplanade, increase traffic, cause wind issues, and provide no affordable housing or green space. Then after everyone had a fit, they scaled back to one too-tall, too-massive, too-ugly tower with only luxury units and expected the neighborhoods to be thrilled. All the problems remain.

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Please.

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Please tell me how a developer can afford to build a 15 story non-luxury tower with no parking over a highway in a part of the city where luxury housing is actually appropriate.

There's a reason all of these air rights projects either never happen or take 15 years to get off the ground. It's expensive, high-risk development.

And it sounds like the process was NIMBY-ism at it's finest. A group of adjacent landowners and homeowners who probably do not want this project to happen at all, so they do everything they can to reduce it to nothing.

15 stories at the highest? C'mon it's easily in an area of the city where height is appropriate. The Pru and One Dalton are already right there.

No parking at all? Sounds like everyone freaked out about traffic and the number of trips generated. Why have parking when it's right next to a highway.

All luxury units with a payment into the affordable fund, which is perfectly acceptable to the city? It's the Back Bay, so yea it makes sense.

No green space? It's not building in a field, it's an urban lot composed of air rights over a highway, train tracks, a street, and a currently fenced off private yard. No one is paying to deck over the highway to build you a park.

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Wait, we're protecting the

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Wait, we're protecting the Esplanade from 9:30 am winter shadows too now? The Esplanade which is mostly covered by "shade" trees?

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APB,

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APB,

How in the world can a developer deck the pike and make money building story? If you have been to this section of Boylston, you will know it is windswept and unpleasant to walk. In addition, the highway is not producing any tax dollars. Anything here will be better than what it is right now.

In addition, you cannot revise history. The developer initially proposed building two towers with 160 condos and 182 apartments. In my mind, this original proposal would have been much better project and would have created more affordable housing. The neighborhood opposed it and now may end up with 102 ultra luxury condo and more cars. Great job selfish NIMBY's of Backbay.

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Margins

Wonder what type of profit margins the developer is targeting to not be able to include affordable units in the building.......should be disclosed as tgey obviously ran the numbers!

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It's not about profit margin,

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It's not about profit margin, it's about construction cost. The developer is required to pay a fixed cost for each of the units they would have had to build. In this case a) They're planning on building very large units throughout the building, so these units would have been different, increasing their cost to build, an b) the current high price of steel means that paying into the fund is cheap than building an "average" sized unit. This tends to only be true for steel construction buildings, so you'll see most downtime high-rises opting to pay the fee, while low-rises in places like JP (even fairly luxurious ones) tend to build the units on site.

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Under normal circumstances,

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Under normal circumstances, the developer coming back with no affordable and so much parking should be told to go screw, but...

in this case, they're not taking land that's otherwise viable for a great mixed TOD and gentrifying it. the dude's essentially building land out of nothing (and a windy, cold, unpleasant, dangerous to walk nothing). so I guess it's fine? in a choice between nothing and luxury housing, at least luxury housing will have some cool street retail and glut up the market for somebody who wants to build their luxury housing on a different, more affordable lot.

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Why does the parking have to

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Why does the parking have to be on-site? Isn't that parking garage on Dalton St directly behind where this building is being built?

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parking

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I would think if they wanted assigned parking they might have to buy that garage, I don't think its the same owner, and its filled to capacity most work days, cash cow for the owner.

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The developer could make a

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The developer could make a deal with that garage owner for exclusive access to a certain number of spaces in that garage. That's what other developers have done when they can't or don't want to build as much parking as they want on the actual site.

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I have a better idea,

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Let’s fill in the Pike. Nobody needs to drive 80mph through our City. It’s a deafening shithole. Fill it in, give the land to a nonprofit developer, build permanently affordable housing. We’ve done worse things with eminent domain (see: highways). Time to start doing things right.

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