BRA approves controversial West Roxbury apartment building

The BRA board yesterday approved a 48-unit apartment building to replace the burned out old asthma-inhaler plant on Lagrange Street at Centre Street.

Nearby residents have battled landlord Michael Argiros for more than a year over the proposal, which they say will exacerbate traffic problems at an already bad intersection.

Argiros says the building will have 81 parking spaces.

Neighborhoods: 

Free tagging: 

Ad:

Comments

Thanks for the blight.

We started with 62 apartments and 52 parking space and ended up with 48 apartments and 81 parking spaces. This is great news for everyone who wants to sleep in a car. Assuming all else is equal every apartment should be 30% more expensive to cover the loss in rental income. Apartment buildings with easy parking are going to be more attractive to people with cars, inducing demand and making the parking/driving situation worse for everyone.

I'm sick of this "I've got mine, go fuck yourself" mentality.

up
Voting is closed. 0

I don't think that's fair

By on

The building was scaled down from 62 apartments to 48 apartments. Was that driven by the need to offer a different apartment to parking ratio or was it (IMO more likely) because the developer was trying to accommodate the community concerns about the scale of the development. If you downsize the building, there's probably more room for parking and it's an attractive asset for a suburban setting.

People act like living next to a commuter rail stop is the same as living in the Fenway or something. There is going to be more of a demand for parking out in West Roxbury and stamping your feet and crying that no-one else should ever have a car is just a naive outlook. By all means, lets improve public transit and developments around it, but that means building towers by Forrest Hills on the bus lot next to proper T access, not in outer West Roxbury where the trains run what, 8 times a day?

up
Voting is closed. 0

Fair is fair

You've got it backwards. They want to force other people to have cars, because "I've got mine."

Yes, let's build our Forest Hills, but in the meantime we shouldn't pander to NIMBYism. Such is the road to San Francisco.

up
Voting is closed. 0

I don't get your point

By on

Who is being forced to get a car here? I don't know and I think you also don't know if the project was scaled down to specifically accommodate more parking. If it was, then you're right but I don't think that's what happened.

Replacing a decrepit fire risk with 48 units of housing on a very small lot is a win. I suspect you are not familiar with the site - this is plenty of housing on a small footprint lot for the residential neighborhoods.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Better than the status quo

You're right, I'm being overly critical. The old inhaler plant is a fire waiting to happen. More housing is better than none. I'm just saddened to see what appears to be a hecklers veto influence construction.

Still, look at Adam's earlier coverage of this. For over a year residents have been yelling that it will make traffic worse and needs more parking. This is a strange pair of complaints.

As for forcing people into cars: if you have otherwise identical units, and one has a single spot while the other has two spots, which will have a higher price? The unit with two spots. This adversely selects against occupation by single or no car families... and makes traffic worse. Arguing that the area is underserved by transit is misleading. Bus lines tend to follow people and development, not the other way around.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Perhaps they are being

By on

Perhaps they are being realistic that any development there will bring more traffic, and will need at least 1 car per unit in parking so that they don't park on side streets? Cause, again, that part of West Roxbury isn't exactly transit friendly, most people will require a car to live there and do day to day things and errands. Maybe over by the High Land stop or Bellevue you might be able to get away with less cars - there is much more happening restaurant wise and store wise with in walking distance. Out by Blanchard's, well, I mean I guess you have that in walking distance.

Buses, really? I take it you haven't taken buses from that neck of the woods out to Forest Hills. The commuter rail, as pointed out earlier, doesn't run often, and not at all on Sunday. So, yeah, I can see complaining about parking and traffic together as making sense and be realistic in the current state of a very suburban Neighborhood of Boston.

up
Voting is closed. 0

I live nearby. I get around

By on

I live nearby. I get around without a car. While I wish the commuter rail ran more frequently and more buses later at night, it's very easy to get by with out one.

up
Voting is closed. 0

I am not saying you can't -

By on

I am not saying you can't - just saying that at 2-3k+ a month in rent, I need something a bit more than that - maybe because that is what I paid in Manhattan right next to numerous subway lines. The place over by Roche's/Lords and Ladies was the best - 3k a month for a one bedroom because it was the 'urban experience' - ummm wut? This is West Roxbury - I grew up down Belgrade, and I can remember waiting forever for buses (35,36,37 [38 if I walked up]) because the Needham Line is terrible. I was paying less per month in Manhattan - tell me again of this urban oasis, lol.

Can you do it? Sure. Am I walking half a mile to Stop and Shop (or Shaws/whatever it is called now) for 2.5k a month? Am I settling for the pu-pu Chinese restaurant or Deno';s for that price ? Nah, I am going to hop in my car and get something decent - even if it is at the other end of Centre St, or in Rozzie Square.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Still don't get it

By on

So if unit A has 1100 sq. ft. and one parking spot and unit B has 1100 sq ft. and two parking spots... then the more fact that the one with two spots has more value hurts no car or single car families? Only in the resale of the apartment. Otherwise the single or no car occupant is able to not pay for something they don't want, two spots.

Or are you saying that the one spot units will sell out first, leaving no car buyers to compete against people who have two cars? Seems like yak shaving either way.

up
Voting is closed. 0

How is

By on

Forcing other people to have cars because "they've got theirs" different from you wanting to force people *not" to have cars because you "ain't got yours?" At least they live in a neighborhood where cars are more of a necessity than a luxury, whereas you live in a walkable part of town yet you don't want anybody to have a car regardless of where they live.

up
Voting is closed. 0

The developer wanted less parking

The developer wanted less parking. He believes that there's enough demand for units with one car. If renters disagree with him, he's got a lot of money at risk.

Handling zoning as an endless series of one offs is just bad policy.

up
Voting is closed. 0

I live there. It's very

By on

I live there. It's very walkable. People here are just lazy and entitled.

up
Voting is closed. 0

It could reasonably be argued

By on

It could reasonably be argued that the road to San Fransisco is letting developers and build whatever they want at the expense of local character, infrastructure, and economic diversity.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Let's go with "No"

San Francisco is an incredibly anti-development city with strict rent control. People are being displaced because housing demand has outpaced supply for decades (apart from a blip after the dot com bust). Empty nesters have no incentive to downsize, so twenty somethings are going to pack the Mission six to a unit.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Also

By on

and as I've said here before, I lived in Boston for 10 years before moving to the SF Bay Area in 2013. People here are very provincial and hostile to newcomers and people from other areas of the country: when people comment on news articles about development and housing in SF proper and the Bay Area, it's often to loudly state that "we don't need new housing, we need a 7.0 (earthquake) to send everyone packing back home," or "the global economy will crash soon enough, and all these Twits (Twitter employees) will finally leave." There are people frequently talking about population caps and creating passes for living in the Bay Area, or legislating that people have to live walking distance from their workplace, so they can prevent pretty much anyone new from moving in ever. They don't want to expand mass transit when buses and trains show strain, because "then more people will take it and we don't want to encourage more people ."

It is an incredibly hostile place to be a newcomer. The locals will not give people who were not born here the time of day. This is part of the reason no housing gets built in San Francisco and points suburban: the born-and-breds don't want to build new housing or support infrastructure for population growth, because in their magical thinking, if they don't build it, everyone will go away.

Boston simply does not have that warped attitude.

up
Voting is closed. 0

You aren't a Boston native,

By on

You aren't a Boston native, you live on the other side of the country, and you haven't lived in this state for about two years. It's not your neighborhood or city, you are just a transplant. The character of the city must have made a really good impression on you which gives locals even more reason to advocate for their own neighborhoods, or you just like telling other people what to do with their communities from far away places.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Well I guess I was wrong then

By on

Boston does have people like that.

Are you hoping and praying for a giant Polar Vortex to scare away all the newcomers? Sit in your house dusting off your rickety old lawn chairs and sharpening your boxcutter before every snowstorm, salivating at the chance to slash someone's tires?

up
Voting is closed. 0

Massachusetts has the best

By on

Massachusetts has the best average public schools and the most educated populace in the entire country. That means they are on average more educated than wherever you came from. Keeping clinging to your gross stereotypes to make yourself feel better about leaving the city and region you obviously like so much. You sound like a transplant that is resentful of other people having real connection to this region. Again, you aren't from here, and you don't live here anymore.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Ummm

By on

Why is someone from Cambridge bitching and moaning about a building in West Roxbury?

up
Voting is closed. 0

Regionalism

West Roxbury is 35 minutes to DTX during peak commuting time. I care about construction in West Roxbury, JP, Southie, Malden, wherever.

A bunch of NIMBYs clutching pearls about their on street parking caused a reduction in housing density. Every housing unit that we don't build makes the rest more expensive. An apartment complex with more parking will induce demand for cars, which contributes to more auto congestion, which impacts bus performance. This isn't as simple as you want it to be.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Cry me a river

By on

Not everyone can afford a $4000/month shoebox-sized Ikea showroom in one of those glass boxes and walk/bike to work, and not too many are masochistic enough to rely on commuter rail.

up
Voting is closed. 0

It isn't simple

By on

But you do also realize that people who live in West Roxbury are also likely to work in the Waltham/Weston business cluster or Canton or Needham office parks, none of which are served by public transit? DTX is a central point and we do need to improve the MBTA, but we are so, so far from a car free society.

We need more housing
We need better public transportation
You can't always serve both interests all the time.

up
Voting is closed. 0

35 minutes ??

By on

45 -60 by commuter rail orange line combo to DTX, use the bus 60 minutes minimum, I know do it every day. Problem now is there is no on street parking there because of the MBCR stop and the busy intersection. So yes worrying about off street parking was called for. Sticking 80+ units with limited parking is not rational.

up
Voting is closed. 0

I lived out in Westie for a

By on

I lived out in Westie for a bit and commuted down 128 to Waltham - how would travel times to DTX help me? Also, at peak rush out the commuter rail will get you to South Station in about 25-30 minutes and it runs once an hour and costs a Zone 1 pass (2x the cost of a normal subway/bus). Getting to DTX at peak rush hour via the Orange line and a bus is well over an hour, even when taking it from the border at Roslindale.

up
Voting is closed. 0

You are naive if you think

By on

You are naive if you think development without parking doesn't increase the demand for cars in this area. People will want to keep cars whether there is parking or not. All development will increase the demand for cars.

You don't live in the same city, let alone the same neighborhood. Stop telling other people what they should do in their own Just because you may be a transient individual passing through this area and is possibly unhappy about the high cost of housing, doesn't mean long time residents don't have the right to advocate for what they perceive to be in their neighborhood's best interests.

up
Voting is closed. 0

I'm not the one telling people what to do

On one side we have a land owner who wants to legally develop his land. On the other we have residents acting in their short term self interest. They're telling him that people are going to act or should act a specific way (ex. Pot heads in the graveyard. I can't make this shit up) and he should bear the cost of it. If they want land use to conform to their whims they can buy it. This issue isn't just about West Roxbury. Throughout the region everyone beats the war drum against higher rents and higher density. We need to stop screwing ourselves with misguided good intentions.

p.s.
I'm here for the long haul.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Wrong

By on

"we have residents acting in their short term self interest."

Civic planning, whether it's concerns over traffic, neighborhood character, or environmental demands are absolutely long term planning. You might disagree with the perspective of the residents, but these definitely are long term considerations, and they should be allowed to argue for them.

It's strange how so many transplants seem outright antagonistic that locals might want to retain some aspects of the neighborhood that they have lined in and contributed to for a long while.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Have you ever been to West Roxbury?

Have you ever been to West Roxbury? We have primarily single family homes here. We're not Cambridge and don't have the density of pretty much any other neighborhood in the city of Boston. This huge apartment complex is just out of character with the rest of the neighborhood. I'm all for new development in West Roxbury, but this specific proposal is just ugly and monstrous. NIMBYism can be stifling, but at times can be necessary to preserve the character and culture of an area.

up
Voting is closed. 0

So...you want your asthma inhaler factory back?

By on

Honestly...I know you all think WR is God's green heaven on earth compared to the rest of Boston but I think you'll survive 48 apartments without having your "character and culture" destroyed. Especially given that practically everyone living there is expected to have at least two cars--that'll keep the riffraff out.

up
Voting is closed. 0

The culture and character of

By on

The culture and character of being across the street from a liquer store. Lol.

up
Voting is closed. 0

People they are clearly

By on

People they are clearly talking about the neighborhood as a whole.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Grove and Washington?

By on

So you're also against the apartments going up on Washington by Grove St?

up
Voting is closed. 0

It's worse than that

I'm sick of this "I've got mine, go fuck yourself" mentality.

I could almost respect "I've got mine, go fuck yourself," but here we have people actively working against their own self interest. The complaint is about traffic, but the demanded remedy creates more traffic. It's utter stupidity, but I'll grant some of it may be well intentioned.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Good

By on

I'm sure some people will say that they are "ramming this down our throat", but that's really not true. This is a reasonable development in a challenging spot. Even if all 81 cars leave and then come back every day, it won't noticeably affect traffic at a busy but highly functional intersection. (See how I stated my opinion but made it appear to be a fact?)

up
Voting is closed. 0

So I guess West Roxbury really IS a suburb.

By on

and doesn't just look like one.

Are there not 2 commuter rail stops within reasonable walking distance of this site? This sounds much more like a ratio that we'd get in Framingham or Natick.

up
Voting is closed. 0

W suburbanites

By on

Like yourself have mile-long driveways next to their mansions. Guess what - us plebes don't have that luxury, but we still need a car to get to work, and we have to park it somewhere.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Yeah, that was meant to be the royal "we".

By on

I do not live in either of the municipalities that I mentioned.

Further, if you think that Natick and Framingham are filled with "mansions" with "mile-long driveways", you need to get out more often, and to some apparently new places.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Well ...

By on

As a reporter who once covered both towns (not at the same time, though), yes, both have West Roxbury-type areas and Framingham even has some pretty urban areas. But report back after you drive through South Natick (especially the part away from the library) or along Nixon Road in Framingham. You'll find some pretty big houses and some pretty long driveways.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Well, is right!

By on

a hit from the editor!

Of course I know that South Natick (which is really better thought of as an extension of Sherborn) has properties as you describe, and I need not drive there to report back, as this area is reasonably close to where I live, and the Windy-Lo nursery down there is THE place to buy nusery stock (in other words, I frequent the area).

Good-natured ribbing aside, I realize that you were pointing out to the rest of the readership that Natick and Framingham aren't all The Natick Mall and Shoppers' World (which was probably a good idea, as I think that lots of people do think that). I was, in a similar way, trying to point out that not every place in the western suburbs is full of rich people, and that there are many places where people are not doing as well as many people in West Roxbury. )

In any case, another point that I was tacitly making, and will do so now more overtly, is that that this city/surburban hate-on-the-other fest is not going to get the T fixed. I think that the politics are such that the T has to be looked at as a resource for everyone (i.e., a driver of the entire region's economy) before it can be fixed for anyone. This is particularly true if you buy into the fact that the governor's "base" is in the suburbs and exurbs (I don't - I thnk that this particular governor has a broader appeal than that).

up
Voting is closed. 0

Well, one next door and one

By on

Well, one next door and one about half a mile away. I fail to see, however how the number of stops matters when they both are on the same line making them the same thing. Its not like if you miss a train at one you can just walk to the other to get a different one.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Has that actually been filed?

By on

Because I made a trip to Suffolk Superior last week and didn't find any docket items that seemed related to the Fairmount project.

up
Voting is closed. 0

bond

By on

plaintiff was required to include a bond of $10K for his complaint...probably thinking twice.

move these uses to the "industrial zone" on HP Ave that was created for this.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Can everyone stop conflating the Commuter Rail with real transit

By on

The comments above are ridiculous. I'm pro this development, but acting like the Needham Line is a real solution for car free living is ridiculous. The thing runs once every hour and a half during the week, every two hours on Saturday, and doesn't even run Sunday. The only other transit options at that corner are a handful of slow, crowded busses.

We need density yes and less cars yes but the way the location and options are right now does not facilitate this easy, car free living so many commuters are suggesting it does. Not everyone works 9-5 M-F in the financial district and is a shut-in all weekend.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Orange Line

By on

What we need is higher density coupled together with an Orange Line Extension. I don't know exactly how far: 1,2,3 stops? because I don't know the technical details (looks crystal clear until Roslindale Village) but that would create massive new areas ready for REAL and PRACTICAL high density.

I agree with you that Commuter Rail doesn't work with the high density - no car spirit.

up
Voting is closed. 0

other options

By on

I am not disagreeing with you in the least. Needham line should have been converted to orange line 30 years ago. However, I think it is important to consider not just public transit, but the transportation field bikes, uber, zipcar (yes I realize none around this location yet) as a whole when considering car free living.

up
Voting is closed. 0

"density yes and less cars"

By on

"density yes and less cars"

These days density and more cars are directly tied to one another no matter where developers build. Most people if given the option of keeping a car around will want to have one. Saying that you can keep building without increasing cars or traffic in the long run isn't realistic.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Is there anybody who reads these discussions ...

By on

Who is 30 or under? Because the people I know of that ilk really are far more willing to ditch car ownership in favor of ZipCar and Uber than us pre-Millennials. Granted, I don't know enough to be my own personal peer-reviewed sociological study, and I suspect an apartment building in farthest West Roxbury won't be the most attractive option for many such folks (late at night, the only walkable food option out there is the Pu Pu), but people who assume that every. last. couple. looking for an apartment or condo in Boston will automatically come with two cars - or even one - is probably as wrong as you're about to tell me I am.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Ooh!! Ooh!!

By on

I am under 30 and I read these discussions!

When I lived in Southie it was infinitely easier to use the T/Uber/ZipCar, rather than deal with having my own car that I needed to find on street parking for/paying insurance/having the car beat up by random acts of vandalism. After moving to West Roxbury it was easier to justify having a car because there were fewer T options, fewer ZipCar options, and I was farther from grocery stores.

Granted, we lived a block away from this proposed new apartment building and my husband would frequently walk to the pharmacy/grocery store from our apartment, even when he had the car available for him to use. So this particular location doesn't have quite the same demands for a car that other parts of West Roxbury might, aside from needing to commute to a job that is not near public transit.

up
Voting is closed. 0

"Is there anybody who reads

By on

"Is there anybody who reads these discussions who is 30 or under?"

Yes

" but people who assume that every. last. couple. looking for an apartment or condo in Boston will automatically come with two cars"

You misunderstood. Of course not everyone will want cars.

The point was not that building near transit won't encourage some people to forgo cars. Rather, all developments will attract some people who will want cars or need them for jobs, adding to total congestion.

Some people here almost speak as if building near transit will solve all problems, add no cars, or even reduce congestion, which obviously doesn't make any sense.

The truth is that most young people moving to a city like Boston are happy to do the car free thing for a while and openly pay lip service to it, but then reality sets in. Friends move away, they want to see things outside of the city, and yet they aren't immediately ready or willing to move as soon as their neighborhood starts feeling small.

up
Voting is closed. 0

My tenants are under 30 ...

By on

... and have cars.I have yet to have an applicant who doesn't have a car (even those under 30). And they always ask about where they can park and where can their visitors park.
Car-free living is great for Downtown, Chinatown, Fenway, Allston (been there, done that), etc. But it's tough here in WR without a car. I don't have one now so I speak from experience. With the exception of rush hours, public transportation here is infrequent and often unreliable. So even if one is lucky enough to have reasonable public transportation from here to one's place of employment and to have work hours that correspond to rush hour, one can't do anything nights and weekends without lengthy public transit rides - or good friends who have cars. And be sure to have very good winter/wet weather clothing for the long waits at the shelter-less bus stops - which aren't shoveled.
And all of this is why I'm researching buying a car. WR is not a car-free friendly place.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Yes

By on

I'm in my early twenties and don't own a car. I'm not in West Roxbury, but I live in Watertown where the public transit is a few different (very long) bus routes, some of which don't run very often. I'm not sure how that compares to the neighborhood you're talking about, but it sounds sort of similar.

I get by fine without a car, even though I live in a residential neighborhood and all of the apartments in my building come with a parking space. I'd rather have to spend more time on a bus where I can relax and do whatever I want than be driving in traffic, and I do a lot of walking for things like grocery shopping that I'm totally fine with but I could see someone older or with mobility issues having problems with. I haven't used Uber or ZipCar before (if this winter is like last year's I might cave and try one of them out), but either one would probably solve my transportation related inconveniences and still be cheaper than buying a car, having insurance, maintenance, gas, and all the stuff that goes along with that.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Around that age

By on

I live in roslindale. We have one car but It's only used on weekends to get out of the city. And we have a kid. Wouldn't want to move that far out in west Roxbury because then we'd both need a car.

What I want is better bike infrastructure so we can bike most places and not have to rely on the T or be forced to drive someplace relatively close. But it's nice having off street parking so I don't have to keep moving the car for street cleaning. Absolutely no desire to live in the suburbs where all you're doing is driving everywhere.

Lots of people like us. Prefer not to drive, but have car and need a place to store the car.

up
Voting is closed. 0

I should add

By on

my spouse bikes to work - I take the T. the kid and I ride the bus together in to and from daycare. The kid much prefers public transit (or the rare times we do bike together) over the car. I would prefer to bike to daycare so I could just bike all the way to work, but it makes me very nervous biking with a kid around here - and where I work the that last 2 miles to get there is very dangerous biking.

Physically separated bike infrastructure cannot happen soon enough for us. My entire family doesn't want to be forced to be cooped up in a car to live our daily lives... that would suck. we're the first generation that grew up out in completely car-centric places - we know just how stifling that life is for kids - and now we're seeing our parents age in a place where they're going to be truly trapped once they lose their ability to drive. The city isn't perfect, but it's already a lot better than where we were stuck growing up - and a lot more affordable than the walkable suburbs.

up
Voting is closed. 0

The amount of people

By on

Commenting on this thread for West Roxbury; ZERO!

up
Voting is closed. 0

My hope is

By on

Once it's finally developed, the folks living there will put pressure on Blanchards across the street and the booze hounds. I hate walking by that store, Ive almost gotten run over by drunks countless times.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Or the people who move there ..

By on

.. will move there because it's close to Blanchard's. Hopefully they'll walk to Blanchards from their new apartment building!

up
Voting is closed. 0

Nah ...

By on

Drizlzy will move in and they'll get their booze delivered from across the street.

up
Voting is closed. 0