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Condos could replace former used-car lot in West Roxbury

Developer Greg Alexandris has filed plans with the BRA to replace the former West Roxbury Motors at Centre and Willow streets with 16 residential condos and a retail unit.

His proposal calls for 29 parking spaces - 15 of them in a garage in the building.

Alexandris's partner and project manager is Gary Martell, who has a similar role with the proposed 16-unit condo building at the old Weld-American site at Weld and Centre streets.

In his filing, Alexandris says the project, is, of course, a "transit-oriented development," and adds:

The project scope includes remediation of the site and the transformation [of] this eye-sore into 16-handsome new residences. ...

The building is sited to complement the pattern of the existing buildings sited on the northerly end of the block. The free-standing West Roxbury Motors building, set far back from the street, will be replaced by a new residential building of contemporary design, sited to reinforce the position of street facing building façades on this block. In fact, the building plan bends in response to the curve of Centre Street. The façade design and scale reflects the residential nature of the building through the development of window patterns and the materials used to clad the building. The mass of the building is broken down to a human-scale through plane changes, the articulation of bays and through use of architectural elements such as cornices and parapets which will create variations in the way the building meets the sky.

1789 Centre small-project review application (8.9M PDF).

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Comments

In his filing, Alexandris says the project, is, of course, a "transit-oriented development," and adds:

Transit Oriented Development? 29 Parking Spaces for 16 units? Yeah the only thing transit-oriented about that is that it's made for cars.

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pretty close to the commuter rail, maybe a 5 min walk.

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Highland Commuter Rail station is a block away...

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The 35, 36 and 37 run along Centre.

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is an eight minute walk. Access to the green line.

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I know this but true transit oriented development would have LESS space for cars. Not a ratio of almost 2 parking spots per unit.

The idea of ToD is to encourage transit use.. not car use.

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Pretty much every developer calls their project that in Boston these days - even Martell at the Weld-American site (once in awhile, a bus drives by it! That's transit oriented!). I think it's to gain points with the BRA against the inevitable calls by neighbors for at least two spaces for every unit (heck, look at the reaction to the Taft Hill proposal in Roslindale, which is literally right next to a train station). And I think Martell was paying attention to the Lagrange Street proposal (which initially came in with a lot less parking than proposed now).

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There is a "retail unit" mentioned, so I suppose some of those spaces are intended for folks who are shopping there?

My favorite part, though, is that there are 16 residential units and 15 parking spaces in the garage. If you buy the unit that comes without deed to an indoor parking space, do you get a price break?

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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condos generally sell for whatever people pay, there aren't "price breaks". Condos in my building that have two spaces sell for slightly more than ones that only have a single space. Just like ones that have more SF generally sell for more than those with less. And those with 2 full baths sell for more than those with 1.5, which sell for more than those with 1...

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A lot of developers sell the parking spots separately from the units. They even have their own nominal "condo fees". So if someone has 4 cars (and the cash) they could buy 4 parking spots. If someone else wants one - they can buy it from the owner. Highest bid wins.

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Meaning, if the developer is putting up less apts. because they are making room for parking, then yes, the parking is at the expense of development and is driving up costs, etc... I'd think in many of these similar sites in WR/Rosi (along Belgrade, etc...) the number of apartments is being set by zoning limits on height, set-backs, etc... I'd bet every time the developer would rather sell another apartment for $x00,000 dollars instead of selling the existing apartment with two spots instead of one for say, $20,000 more.

If you really want to get serious about limiting car usage, the answer is taxes and fees on the cars, not making developers solve the issue. Charge for on street parking, create a fee for having a car registered in Boston, etc... Otherwise you're trying to solve a city wide issue (cars/traffic/congestion) on the backs of only a few of the car owners and users. Note - I'm not really in favor of that BTW, but it would make a lot more sense than complaining about having too many parking spots in developments.

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In many places the code also requires a minimum of X parking spots per unit for new development. I confess my total ignorance of the zoning for this particular lot, but that does drive up car usage (and housing prices) all over the country.

BTW, anyone care to enlighten me? Would the developer need a variance if he included less parking?

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This seems to be one of the few large, transit-accessible projects proposed in the last few months (years?) where a parking variance will not be required. The amount of parking being built is exactly what the zoning requires.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, providing this amount of parking seriously undermines the goal of having most of the residents in the building use public transit to get around. It also forces those of us who actually want to live car-free to compete with car owners for the precious few dwellings that are located near the train.

And last, parking spaces near the T and in developments like this one typically do not pay for themselves, which means their cost must be shouldered by even the non-car-owning residents. This is a subsidy. And now that we're talking about subsidies, it's important to ask: Is this really the *best* subsidy that we can get for the money?

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Last night (October 27, 2015) the Planning Board in Chelsea decided to approve a site review of a 692 unit apartment development. These are not condos. No one will build equity. Thibeault Development, LLC., hopes that "young professionals" who'll "work in the financial district," would be encouraged to move once the Silver Line operates in Chelsea.

My biggest problem with this plan is the number of cars, but the sheer size of the project should give anyone pause. It's a huge project that will be very disruptive to thousands of people during and after construction.

Chelsea has about 100 police officers on its force. It is a small city with big city problems. Adding about 700 new apartments without a concomitant capacity to provide necessary services, one would imagine, would prompt resistance from the community.

Few people showed up yesterday. But I went. And I can say confidently that it was very revealing.

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But it's in West Roxbury, where people think renting and not having a car mean you're from the Projects.

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If you look at the left side of the rendering, you'll see a bit of an existing apartment building.

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There are plenty of rental units in W Roxbury and, as it has been pointed out. Great public transportation.

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In 2010 about 30% of the households in West Roxbury lived in rental housing.

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But true to my principles, which I apply consistently to projects deemed by many to have too few parking spaces, if the developer wants to build a unit with parking, that's fine with me. I simply don't believe the number of spots should be determined by zoning rather than the developers' market and risk assessment.

And to be honest, if I am going to complain about too much parking, it will be in response to an ugly surface lot. But this proposal hides the spaces and completes that section of street wall. Combine that with more retail, and I'd say this is definitely very pro-pedestrian.

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I believe the parking minimums are in the zoning so the developer has to included some parking. Otherwise they could skip the parking altogether to maximize their profit and any cars would then have to park on the street (or wherever), making things worse for existing neighbors who need to park on the street.

But it would be nice to see the zoning updated to allow reduced amounts (but not zero) for proposals within a certain distance of commuter rail and subway stations.

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But really why not allow zero if that's what the market will bear? Parking isn't free to provide, why should people expect to get it for free?

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Here's the formula: pay architect as little as you can. Build as many as you can, as cheaply as you can. Sell for as much as you can. Ka-ching baby!

These dime-a-dozen units are this generation's answer to the ugly brick boxes from the 1970s, a terrible example of which sits right next door to this site on Centre Street. Back then, big box housing sprouted all over the city in desperate times, during the flight to the suburbs.

Today, Mayor Marty's desperate desire to rubber stamp any and all new units means another big box is coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

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Nice, very nice!

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It's turning into another Allston!

smh.

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what the Sydney Morning Herald thinks?

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Yay. More un-affordable housing.

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When you say "affordable" do you mean "subsidized" or do you mean "market prices within reach of normal average people?" Because both of those things are important! Subsidized housing is generally what city planners talk about when they say "affordable housing."

The only way to stabilize prices at this point is to provide enough housing at all price points to meet demand. So, BUILD!

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I don't know about in other cities, but in Boston, "subsidized" means low-income housing, typically at least partially funded by the government (sometimes in the form of a tax break of some kind), while "affordable" means units that are priced so that people making some percentage of the average median income for the area (typically up to 70%) can afford them.

So in Boston, no, city planners do not mean "subsidized" units when they refer to "affordable" units.

The newer term is "workforce" housing, which is for people who make up to some percentage higher than the AMI (20 or 30%, maybe? Somebody correct me).

These look to be "market-rate" units, which means they will cost about what other units in West Roxbury cost, not what a unit on the 50th floor of Millennium Tower will go for.

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You want to have more projects built or what exactly?

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Build it.

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sweet lord in heaven, are there no architects left in this fucking city? Is there no pride in the buildings we put up anymore?

The mass of the building is broken down to a human-scale through plane changes, the articulation of bays and through use of architectural elements such as cornices and parapets which will create variations in the way the building meets the sky.

FUCKING BOLLOCKS!! It's god-awful shit. And it's going up everywhere not only in this city but the entire country is full of this shit. ugh.

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Is it weird that when I look at these new buildings, I think Playmobil? Like, they look like the exteriors are made of cheap plastic pieces which have been snapped into place. How are they going to weather?

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As all the ugly ass condos being built on Broadway and East First Street (also known as the "ugly ass corridor" of Boston.

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I welcome more density and more foot traffic. But I am a little concerned that all the parking for so few units means too many more cars in a very small space and more traffic. Why so many spots? But if it results in more foot traffic it will mean safer streets. Cars will be more used to seeing people on the street and hopefully drive more like they are in a city an not on a suburban feeder road. (Whatever that is) And possibly more restaurants and businesses can be supported on Centre St.

I agree that architecture is sorely lacking in these developments, but this is a huge improvement from Belgrade Place and that hideous statuary. Let's hope these people have a little more taste. Or at least taste.

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Why so many spots?

Because there is a widespread and mistaken impression among many city residents that more off-street parking will lead to less on-street parking in their neighborhood. In reality, more off-street parking usually just means more cars overall. This site is not on the main T grid so it makes sense to have one spot per unit but that should be it.

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I agree.

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If they cut the number of spots, people would bitch about how there's not enough spots.

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This looks like it was designed by a
five year old using lego . Are you kidding
me? These architects want there
creations to be so "edgy",totally
out of character with anything else
on the street. How about you stick
Your God awful design in Weston,
Wellesley or Brookline,and see how
Far you will get, what a piece of
Crap this back to the future
embarrassment is.

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