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Residents love idea of replacing eyesore old gas station at Weld and Centre, but worry about parking, size

Proposed condos at Weld and Centre on the Roslindale/West Roxbury line

Residents living near the intersection of Weld and Centre streets on the Roslindale/West Roxbury line this evening applauded the developer who's bought the old Weld American gas station with the idea of replacing it with condos.

But at a meeting with new owner John Sullivan and project manager Gary Martell, residents worried whether the building, which might have either 18 or 21 one- and two-bedroom residential units and one commercial unit, would mean still more people battling for the limited parking spaces along Centre Street. And the building seemed too high for a neighborhood of single-family homes and one- and two-story commercial buildings, they said.

Martell, Sullivan and architect Rick Schmidt will come back with new proposals at a meeting at 6:15 p.m. on April 22 at the District E-5 police station.

Martell said that under current zoning, Sullivan could build a 19-unit, four-story building - with 30 parking spaces, 19 on the first floor of the building - without requiring any variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. He's already secured the financing for the $5.5-million project.

But at a couple of preliminary meetings with the BRA, city designers said the proposed exterior parking lot and driveway, which would sit between the building and a commercial building on Centre didn't really fit in with "Boston Complete Streets" design goals of ensuring commercial streets with plenty of possibilities for pedestrian traffic.

Architect Rick Schmidt then came back with a proposal to put the building almost flush with the existing commercial building, push it further back from Centre to allow for trees and other potential amenities, such as bike racks and lengthen the building to allow for a 22 internal parking spaces - but none outside.

In turn, however, this would require variances from the zoning board - which would, in turn, trigger a requirement to add three affordable residential units - Schmidt said.

Residents said they doubted 22 spaces would be enough, especially in a neighborhood already short on parking. Where will guests park, they wondered.

And they objected to the 35-to-38-foot height of the proposal. Martell said 35 feet is allowed by the "neighborhood shopping district" zone in which the lot sits - and said the owners of the other commercial buildings along Centre could just as easily tear down their buildings and put up higher ones. He said that when the city rezoned the area in the 1990s, it intended to let it become denser - density can be a good thing in a city.

One issue that shouldn't come up, Martell said, is cleaning up anything left over from the gas station. He and Sullivan said the previous owner had 106 tons of potentially contaminated dirt removed from the site and that the state certified it as clean in 2007. Even still, Sullivan said he had monitoring wells installed last year just to be sure - the water tested clean, he said.

Martell added the service-station building has no asbestos or other chemicals in it.

He added he will market the building at 50-and-over empty nesters who either want to move out of larger houses or who cannot afford one. He estimated the two-bedroom units would go for $479,000.

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Comments

Guests will likely park on the public streets around the building. That's what streets are for. Get over it.

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People are already parking into the intersection and in front of people's driveways.

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Might that be a strong influence on the lack of parking in the neighborhood? I know I have had to drive far for a spot there.

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People illegally park on sidewalk and along knoll. Harry's in the morning, Kellehers in the evening. The operating gas station, puts cars on street during day sometimes, just like shell station. Traffic frequently blocks left turn onto knoll.

I really dont want to see roslindale become like west rox, double parking everywhere and traffic light every ten feet. Weld and centre is a dangerous intersection for pedestrians, 4 lanes become 2 in that area and people try to squeeze by. No regard for cross walks.

I see this development making it worse. I wish BPD would do something there.

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Proving once again why neighborhood associations should not be allowed to weigh in on size OR parking. A single, covered parking space adds about $60,000 to the price of a two bedroom, market-rate condo in Boston. Plus it leaves less room for additional housing. If people are so concerned about the limited parking supply, they should consider letting the city charge for it. Asking developers to build off-street parking that the market doesn't even want is just stupid policy and is driving up the cost of housing.

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Boston's neighborhoods and architecture would like North Korea.

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Actually, architecture is one of the areas where I wish they would weigh in *more*. Instead it feels anything is allowed as long as it's not too tall and provides plenty of parking (actually this is literally true if you figure that people building within existing zoning don't even have to go through this process).

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Near the end of the meeting, one guy said he wasn't really bothered by the parking issues, but decried the look of the proposed building. "This is terrible!" he said, urging the architect to fancy up the building a bit.

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Rarely goes well.

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For the sake of clarity, the neighborhood association has not taken a position on the project. Last night's meeting was held by the mayor's office for residents to first learn of the proposal. The parcel falls within the outer boundary of the Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association (LANA) and LANA assisted with outreach so our members would be aware of the meeting. There are also residents who live across Centre Street that are outside our association boundaries since this parcel is right on the line and they have their own group. Thank you.

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Citations please.

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People need to shut up about parking. I'm tired of hearing about how everyone wants more affordable housing but then oppose neighborhood projects because won't-someone-think-of-the-parking-and-god-forbid-I-have-to-walk-an-extra-block-to-park-my-car. 22 parking spots for 19 units seems like more than enough.

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It's mostly single-family homes, people already have driveways and the question is more whether they can get out of those driveways than walking another block.

And, no, I don't live anywhere near there (but am somewhat familiar with it, given the presence of my favorite Mexican takeout place there).

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I'm familiar with the neighborhood. I live in JP and do most of my grocery/pharmacy/ski repair shopping in West Roxbury, and Yucatan is often a stop on the way.

I've had people approach me, when parking in that area, to tell me that I can't park in front of their house because it's reserved for their three cars, all of which happen to be missing at the time. I don't have a lot of sympathy. I realize it's a pain in the butt if someone blocks your driveway. I've had to deal with that too. It's annoying to get a car towed. But I don't think that should come in the way of denser, (hopefully) more affordable housing with less parking.

No one owns on-street parking, not even local residents.

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Maybe I pick odd times, or something, but so far there's only been one time I couldn't find room in those weird angled spaces, so I've never been confronted by an angry resident.

At the meeting, one resident did ask about the possibility of resident permit parking - which is what people on the two side streets off Centre in West Roxbury across from West got when all the other restaurants opened up.

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I'm confused (as I usually am)..

I've had people approach me, when parking in that area, to tell me that I can't park in front of their house because it's reserved for their three cars, all of which happen to be missing at the time.

Why would someone tell you that on a public street, it's not theirs to say that. Or am I missing something here..

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Had it happen in Cambridge, on Putnam Ave in front of a triple decker. Guy came off his porch and told me I couldn't park in "his" spot, and he'd call his brother in law, who was a cop, if I didn't move.

With all the BS about space savers every winter, are you really surprised that people are comfortable claiming public property as theirs?

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Not really but seriously, I would have flipped the guy the bird and said "I don't see no sign claiming it's yours, so call your cop friend. We'll see how this plays out" The cop would have sided with me.

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Snap his picture and say now I know who to point the cops to if something happens to my car. You said you live at this address?

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When someone shovels out a spot or 2 for 3 to 4 hours for days!!! & with all the snow this winter........ I think they do have the right to ask people NOT to park in front of their home. We don't shovel out spots in front of OUR home for HOURS and days for other people to park. It's RUDE when people do that.

On a regular day, it should be fine - but the winter will be a big PROBLEM!

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Where were you in February? Check that. I'm glad you didn't post anything like that in February, because you would have knocked a hole in the argument put forth by me that space saving after major storms is a valid thing. Defending saving now, when the snow is all gone, makes you look like an ass. It ain't your space just because it is in front of your house. If you had dug out a 10 x 5 spot in front of my house after the Super Bowl parade, I would have had no problem with you putting out a cone, chair, sofa, whatever, but no snow equals no saving.

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Which place? I'm new to the area and love love mexican

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I don't know if it's worth making a long trip there, but Yucatan Tacos on Centre. As long as you're in the general area, there's also Romano's at the corner of Corinth and Washington in Roslindale Square.

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Sorry, I meant new to Roslindale. So not a long trip at all

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Not the residents.

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This would never be allowed in Lexington or Wellesley.

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In all my years of going to A&N pizza and Yucatan and the Soap Opera and Kellehers and the defunct barber, not ONCE have I had a problem finding a spot at one of the angle parking spots. Most of those spots turn over continuously, except for Kellehers patrons who spend longer.

IMHO, the on-street parking there is sufficient to allow wiggle room for guests of the new housing.

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Half the people are parked there illegally to begin with. There is no street parking in front of the gas station, people park on the sidewalk cutting of pedestrian access. 1 parking spot for a 2-bedroom condo is absurd. The house next to me has 2 2-bedroom units and they have 4 cars and then guests sometimes. People are not gonna want to park in garage to run into the condo to grab something, so there will be double parking constantly, like the beautiful situation near West on Centre.

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Build 20 extra parking spots in case 3 of the units each have a group of people over at the same time? Not build the place at all and just let an empty lot sit there? No matter what it is/where it is you could always dream up some potential negative scenario or reason not do build something. The housing situation in Boston will only continue to get worse if we make every developer jump through a million hoops, even when they have a very reasonable proposal.

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That's the unreasonable hoop placed on the developer making difficult the reasonable need for parking! Some of the complete streets things are ok, others not. Here it seems to be more of a problem than a solution.

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Requiring copious parking in an area that is transit accessible is not reasonable. That parking does not pay for itself on the open market (which is why developers do not want to build it), so the extra cost has to be absorbed by the buyers of the housing, thus further driving up rents for everyone. If you're worried about the parking situation on the street, lobby the city to charge for the parking permits. Restricting development (or forcing them to provide subsidies) in the name of preserving parking is just going to make things more expensive for everyone.

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Neither the 38 nor the 51 have the frequency of just about any of the other buses that leave Forest Hills.

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No, build 1 space per bedroom. In truth, the residents will probably exceed that, and definitely with guests. During snow emergencies it wont exacerbate the isssue.

Number one priority is that centre remains 2 lanes at that junction. Disregard for traffic flow and parking is gonna break boston. Especially when you have the MBTA to fallback on.

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I had the conversation recently, having their awesome breakfast sandwiches, that you can watch the spaces turn over quickly... just like the tables at Harry's. (Stomach growling now... perfect morning for Harry's!)

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. . . and the parking concerns are bullshit. I'm sorry but it's totally overblown. I lived in NYC for a long time, where I routinely had to drive around for 30 minutes waiting for an on-street space to open up as I expect is common in other Boston neighborhoods. THAT'S a parking problem. In our neighborhood it's a non-issue. The worst is you might have to park halfway up Knoll Street if you're going to Kelleher's. If someone's blocking your driveway, call the police.

I would like to see some affordable units go in here, as housing costs are going up up and up in the neighborhood.

And if we get more housing maybe we'll be able to get a bus that runs more frequently than every 25 minutes during rush hour, ha ha.

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That's 2 comments now referring to East Asia (vs Swellesley or Lexington) and their architecture.

In case you haven't noticed, Roslindale/West Roxbury is decidedly not Lexington nor Wellesley.

PS the shopping buildings along Central St smack of purity in architecture.

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This intersection is a mess. Cars parked on the sidewalk. Gas station intentionally made a blight. A brick wall blocking the sidewalk. Vendors depositing their snow on the sidewalk. Frequently parking will choke Centre Street down to one lane on that side and if someone is turning left "Gridlock".

In the winter it is a a pedestrian nightmare because you have to walk on Center Street to pass around cars parked on the sidewalk. The police do not enforce parking at that intersection. Also cars must evacuate during snow emergencies.

I don't see this development improving any of that, but just adding to the problem. People on my street have 4-5 car drives, and still park on the street. A parking garage is far more inconvenient that parking in a driveway! Business there will suffer because of parking issues. An traffic will become worse because double parking will consistently choke Centre to one lane.

If they pass this, they really need metered parking there and enforced parking rules. If they add parking in front of development and choke Centre St. down to one lane, traffic will back up to E5 rotary every weekday morning.

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Adding more residents to the immediate area will help local businesses. Cars that park on the sidewalk should be towed. If that doesn't work then sending a message with the tip of a key certainly will. Anyone who parks on a sidewalk is asking for that.

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The added foot traffic of a dense, new development will easily offset any loss to the neighborhood caused by making Centre Street slightly harder to drive down.

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One of the utility companies has been doing work on that corner of the intersection for a while. I wounder if it has to do with this project, and whether it is a foregone conclusion that it will pass?

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Most likely unrelated

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I live on Weld Street in Roslindale. I was a very active participant in the community meetings that took place when the new Arboretum building on the Weld Hill Parcel (Puddingstone Hill) was being proposed. I would like a copy of the delineation of the conservation restriction placed on the parcel? I would like to know exactly where the line runs through the parcel and the what the restrictions are on the Arcboretum land. Is this land considered parkland and thus would set off the 100 foot need for Permission for Construction Near Parks or Parkways 7-4.11? I would like to know if this parcel needs to get Parks approval. I feel that excessive development is being proposed next to such a sacred piece of Open Space in Roslindale. This construction would dramatically alter the parkland feel of the area and the still largely residential character of much of the immediate and surrounding area. The building is proposed to wrap around onto Weld St. which is zoned for single family. In addition, this project sits very close to the Roslindale Wetlands and could possibly impact the Wetlands.

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Looks like this parcel falls just outside the Conservation Protection Subdistrict on that Harvard/Arboretum land across the street. Zoning map at the link below. You should contact the BRA to confirm that this map is still accurate.

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/getattachment/58789606-f910-...

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1. This intersection--Weld and Centre--is a bad intersection as someone pointed out already. Some thought will have to be given to that with people now pulling in and out of an apartment building on that corner. It's dangerous too coming up Centre Street toward Westie, which goes from two lanes to one because of the street parking in front of the existing retail there. I've had a number of close-calls there.

2. Protecting the wetlands in that neighborhood and the green space left after the development of the parcel off Weld Street are also a concern to me.

3. People on Knoll are used to having their spots in front of their houses. Some of the people on our street have lived there for 60+ years. While they don't own the spaces of course, please have some understanding and courtesy to the folks who live there too. While many of us to have driveways, they are small and build for a more pre-car era and don't have enough space for all the cars for each house. Most houses on Knoll are two family houses, with some single families too, but that means a minimum of two cars for single family (assuming they don't have teenage drivers and young adults living there) or three to four cars for a two-family.

4. Knoll Street has a lot of kids and it's a very dangerous street because people speed down it and use it as a cut-through. It is very frustrating for the residents there. Our tenant's car was completely side-swiped--mirror gone, big dent-- while it was parked on the street in front of our house one night about midnight this last fall. Our guess is a drunk driver leaving Kelleher's at the top of our street. Knoll would need speed bumps at a minimum and better yet, change the direction the street runs to stop people from coming down it even more when the traffic at Centre and Weld gets worse.

Roslindale is not right on the T, and while there is a grocery in Roslindale Village, it's a little bit far to walk for groceries from Centre Street, so folks will very likely have cars who live there, that's just the nature of things. There really isn't any convenient parking other than on Knoll Street or the spaces on Centre Street, but that would negatively impact the retail shops there, so adding parking is important. In my opinion though, the driving, the traffic and other considerations are also necessary before this development gets an OK in my opinion.

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