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Developer says Readville parcels perfect for that rarest of things: A large apartment complex for the middle class

Jordan Warshaw shows his apartment proposal

Look, ma, no parking lots: Warshaw shows off proposal.

Developer Jordan Warshaw says he's bought one of the three parcels he needs for a 650-unit apartment complex off Sprague Street at the Dedham line, has a second parcel under option and is still negotiating with the owner of the third.

At a packed meeting of the Readville Neighborhood Watch tonight, Warshaw and his consultant, Jay Walsh - former director of neighborhood development under Tom Menino - said the eight-acre site would be perfect for the project. It's next to the Readville train station, isolated from the main residential parts of the neighborhood and its size means he could build a complex with apartments attractive to people who want to rent in Boston but couldn't possibly afford the Seaport or Charlestown.

Warshaw, who has yet to file formal plans with the BRA for the five five-story buildings, estimated the units - mostly studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms with a small number of three-bedrooms - would go for half the price of comparable apartments closer to downtown. He said they'd be rented mostly by 20-somethings and empty nesters tired of leaf raking and home maintenance.

Warshaw said the way the land falls off dramatically from Sprague Street adds another benefit: He could fashion something akin to a college campus, where the five buildings would sit next to large grass fields, rather than parking lots - the cars would go into garages underneath the buildings.

In an homage to the area's industrial past, he said he's looking at putting up buildings with a factory look - brick and metal facades, with large windows - rather than just throwing up yet another place with "fake clapboard and fake bay windows."

Some of the space in the buildings would be set aside for a gym, a community center and a restaurant, he said, adding he's also looking at how to help clean up Sprague Pond.

As with any proposal in Readville, residents' top concern was traffic.

Warshaw said the garages would be designed for one car per bedroom, although he said he doubted they would ever be full because millennials are increasingly reluctant to own cars.

Warshaw, who drives his daughter to a gymnastics studio across from the site three times a week said he's well aware of the "nightmare" that is traffic in the area.

He said that because the development would be south of the Sprague Street bridge, it should have minimal impact on what he acknowledged was the worst of the worst at the Father Hart/Milton Street bridge. And when a Dedham selectman popped up to express concern about more cars coming into his town, Warshaw said a residential project simply generates far less traffic than an office building or a shopping mall.

Still, he and Walsh - whom he hired for his Boston expertise - said they would work with city officials to try to do something about the existing issues, such as maybe finally installing traffic lights around the bridge.

He acknowledged another developer is looking at a 240-apartment complex next to the bridge and said his traffic engineers would take that into account if that project wins city approval.

And they said they also want to work with the MBTA to resolve the "inequities" at the Readville station, such as the fact that it costs far more to get on a train there than just up the tracks at Fairmount.

In response to questions about the sort of people who might move into the apartments, he said he would ban college students, that is, the rich kids over at Curry, and that while he cannot legally turn away any applicants with Section 8 certificates, the buildings would not be set aside specifically for them.

He added that 13% of the units would, as required by the city, be rented as "affordable" to people making up to 70% of the area median income, or roughly $40,000 to $60,000 a year.

The meeting in general was far calmer than those on other large projects in Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods. One thing some residents objected to strongly was Warshaw's idea to create a Citgo Signish iconic tower for the complex, perhaps something spelling out "Readville" in lights.

Warshaw said that would help improve the neighborhood's identity since few people outside the area have ever even heard of the place, but some residents said they actually like it that way and feel no need to blare their identity to the rest of the world.

"We're Readville! We're happy!" one man yelled angrily.

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Comments

Before the meeting started, Readville Neighborhood Watch President Frank Garibaldi plastered all the seats in the room with printouts of this comment by our own chaosjake on my first story on the proposal.

After Warshaw's presentation, and after E-13 officers gave the monthly police report, Garibaldi said he was deeply offended by the comment (obviously, since he printed out 100+ copies of it), said that Readville is, too, multicultural and that he and Watch members go to great lengths to inform residents about meetings, which they should know about anyway, since they're always held every third Thursday of every month. "It doesn't take a genius to figure out," he said.

"If you're going to report something, do it accurately," he said, wondering if chaosjake was in the room as he said that.

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But this is absolutely goddamn hilarious, seeing as how this article is the first time I heard about this meeting. They didn't even leave a midday flyer at my house this time, and I saw nothing on that vapid nextdoor.com site.

Maybe if they would leave us a flyer EVERY time they were going to have a meeting, I could deduce the pattern that they happen on the third Thursday of every month. They've certainly never announced that schedule at any of the meetings I've attended over the years. I'll put a recurring reminder in my calendar now, and try to get out of work early to attend more often.

Yes, Readville is somewhat multicultural, despite the best efforts of the so-called neighborhood watch. That was the whole point of the original comment.

(Edited to remove regrettable personal attack and tone down profanity.)

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Daughter came with me, looked at the flyer, said "this is from your site!" and proceeded to express her amazement repeatedly.

Interesting about nextdoor.com. That's actually how I found out about the meeting, in a message on it today - in our neighborhood that isn't even in Hyde Park.

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Maybe I missed it amongst all the posts looking for cat groomers and math tutoring, or maybe I need to sign up for Hyde Park instead of Readville or something.

Dear Citizens for the Preservation of Readville: I will build and host a simple website for you for free (and teach you how to use it) if you promise to update it with meeting dates and agendas at least a week in advance.

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If you attend a future meeting, please only refer to yourself in the third person as 'chaosjake'

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chaosjake thinks that's a swell idea. chaosjake might have to try that.

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...and couldn't point to it on a map, so from an outsider's perspective, this is very telling; they dismiss criticism rather than accept that they have room for improvement.

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putting "READVILLE" in lights an improvement.

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Not at all what I was responding to. My reply was to Adam's comment about the printouts passed around by Garibaldi at the meeting.

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This would be a large net increase in cars for that area which already has traffic problems. It's not going to do anything for housing prices in the long run, despite what some people think. The region is already built up, and you can't solve the housing problem if you are just going to induce demand for more people to move here. The demand keeps growing because there's no restrictions on investment. Traffic is noticeably worse in the region than it was even just some years ago. Not to mention there's other housing planned for the area.

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This would be a large net increase in cars for that area which already has traffic problems. It's not going to do anything for housing prices in the long run, despite what some people think.

Either it contributes noticeably to local congestion and is big enough to have an impact on neighborhood housing prices or it doesn't contribute noticeably to local congestion and isn't big enough to have an impact on neighborhood housing prices.

The two don't move in perfect linear concert, but the claim that projects have dire impacts on internal non-tested anecdotal traffic congestion models but have no impact on moving the clearing price of housing in an economic market where both supply and demand are both clearly sloped is rather redonkulous.

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The point is that it wont contribute to housing prices.

Long term trends mean that it's just adding to congestion because there is so much real estate speculation, outside purchases, and other types of growth.

The vast majority of new projects create a net increase in traffic, which is noticeably worse today than it was in years not long ago.

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Your claims are somewhat dubious, as more supply doesn't necessarily stimulate more demand. It very often only satisfies existing demand. Be that as it may, your thought about speculators is a non-sequitur, since these units are not going to be investment properties, but will instead belong to the developer who rents them out.This will very likely lead to lower rents in Hyde Park. That's a good thing.

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It is the case here. Housing in different parts of the city are all part of the same overall market.

The investment was meant to speak about a larger trend. Also, lower rents also implies lower property values for homeowners.

The demand is increasing over time, because there are no overall limits on speculation from outside the area as well as growing sources of demand nationally. Even if those units are rentals, it's such a small amount compared to the growing demand.

Also, these units could always be converted to condos which would be open to investors.

There is still the traffic, and the vast majority of all development causes a net increase.

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Traffic is worse today. There are more people here than there were years ago. It's "redonkululous" to assume there would be less traffic or just the same amount .

Your model assume that demand for housing is a limited amount over time. It's not, because there are no limits on outside speculation, and the demand keeps growing over time for a variety of reasons. If you do try to build for that increased demand, you will end up with a lot more traffic and the problems that brings with the additional challenge of trying to accommodate for it.

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The demand keeps growing because there's no restrictions on investment.

There would be some basis to this claim if we were talking about a condo building, but you can't "invest" in a rental apartment.

Of course there are investors in the overall building complex. But no one is buying a 300-unit apartment complex to use as a summer home when it gets too hot in Dubai.

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It was meant to say that there are no restrictions on investment ownership overall, which means that this would have little effect on housing. Obviously you can't invest in a rental apartment exactly the same way you could individual condos.

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This would be a large net increase in cars for that area which already has traffic problems.

It's too many cars, and poorly located. All those cars are going to be squeezed between the Sprague Street Bridge on one end and the East Street rotary at the other. At least the other proposed 240 unit development has the garage entrance on Hyde Park Ave, and some of that traffic will head north up HPA. These 600 units are all going to have to pass through the choke point between the bridges.

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More light industrial would be good for the area, depending on the business. That's what the site is zoned for. Not everything should be turned into investment apartments which increases the amount of traffic problems which have gotten worse without anything really done to address them. A variety of jobs are needed.

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Employment isn't limited to light industry. Between property management professionals, facilities maintenance staff, cleaning crews, and (proposed) restaurant and cafe workers, this project would provide a good variety of jobs.

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Two words - credit check.

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Part of the reason millennials and empty nesters want to live in city apartments is easy access to amenities they may want after work and on weekends. Someone without a car at this complex would have a hard time getting anywhere. Off-peak trains run every hour or 2 hours to/from Readville and there's not a lot to do that's walking distance from this site.

So while these will be much more affordable than an apartment in Chinatown or the Seaport or Fenway, once there's not much to lure someone from the city to the suburbs.

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You may also get quite a few couples who share a one-bedroom and have one vehicle between them. This would be the perfect spot for a young couple before they have kids or even with one kid if they have a two-bedroom place. Many of my friends are in that situation and struggling to find affordable places in the city. And these are friends who grew up in the city neighborhoods, not ones moving in from elsewhere.

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even if your friends with a kid moved in from elsewhere, they should be welcomed, not shunned.

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DMU to Legacy Place - problem solved.

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there's not a lot to do that's walking distance from this site.

There's actually NOTHING to do within walking distance of this site. At hearings, developers love to play the transit-oriented development card on proposals in Readville, but everyone who lives here knows that you need a car to get anywhere (except possibly work, if you work near Back Bay or South Station).

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I'm sure everyone would love to live in Seaport, but not everyone can afford to drop $3000/month on a shoebox-sized studio.

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I'm sure everyone would love to live in Seaport

I would not. The Seaport is the most boring, soulless part of this city. It's a streetscape with nothing at human scale. Any time I have to walk through there, I imagine that it's a neighborhood designed for the comfort of giant robots.

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I attended the meeting last night. I happen to think this article is a little too snarky based on the presentation that was given. Mr. Warsaw had answers for 90% of the questions that were asked. The concerns were traffic, section 8 & more traffic. Most of the people in the room have no idea how the section 8 program works and none of them are traffic engineers. The developer is also not going to be marketing to the people that were in the room. The people he would be marketing probably have no idea the meeting even happened, because like chaosjake said, the group will not embrace technology. Maybe 650 is too big, maybe it ends up being 500. Cleary, Wolcott & Logan need this. More young people could lure more businesses and maybe our restaurants wouldn't close. Something has got to give. Light industry is not coming back to Hyde Park. As a homeowner and resident, I would like this project to happen. I'm not a "new" resident either. I've lived here my whole life. And, hey Dedham, this is in Boston. Go Home.

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Will agree on the Dedham. To be sure, a Dedham selectman has a perfect right to worry about possible traffic issues (along with Dedham residents just over the line), but, yeah, it was a little rich hearing somebody from Dedham complaining about traffic from Readville (Hey, Dedham, how about that liquor company you approved on your side of the Stop & Shop warehouse because you'll get all the taxes while Readville gets all the traffic?).

Are you sure about light industry going away, though? Somebody's investing a fair amount of money to turn the old Yard 5 rail yard into a light industrial park.

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It's just more short term rentals in an area with traffic problems, not really within walking distance to anything. It's going to create more traffic without really doing anything about housing.

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More light industry could be provided if the region actually planned for it. A large bakery of furniture company for example could provide a diversity of jobs.

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Thank you for your clarity. We agree with you and hope others that also agree can provide a less hostile public venue to support this effort, reduce the negative aspects of it, and begin to move this community forward.

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I live nearby, and walked past the site this morning. I'm not sure what he means by 'the land slopes away' - the only slope is that of the road rising on an embankment to bridge the railroad tracks - otherwise, it's flat as a pool table.

Otherwise, it's funny how 'it would add too much traffic' has come to mean 'one car more than mine' (or 'my two').

[As an added note, there's some kind of music lesson studio at the head of the driveway to the property. I've walked past fairly late at night and seen two cars parked out front, and dim lights on inside. Definitely not a time you'd expect someone to be taking guitar lessons. I've often wondered whether it might be some kind of CIA front business or something. I certainly never see anyone with instruments going in or out.]

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It's more like the land just falls away from Sprague Street (not quite a cliff, but it's a pretty steep decline), so it almost feels like it's in a bowl, at least when you're on Sprague Street. I've changed the wording.

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The developer wants to ban college students from living in his project? First of all, is that legal? Furthermore, college students are probably the least likely to own cars in the city sicne it's so expensive. Way too many cars will be brought into the area with this mega-development. Scale back the enormity of size and don't discriminate against students.

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The legality of banning college students came up and the developer said, yes, it's legal to specifically ban them (caveat: I am not a housing lawyer or, well, any sort of lawyer).

As for college students and cars, we're not talking about BU or BC students with no place to park and with plenty of public transit to get them around, but Curry College students in Milton. I don't personally know anything about them, but people in the room seemed to think they were mostly rich kids with cars.

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But there needs to be both transit and then development.

There's a ton of potential. This site is approximately 8 acres and would have 640 units and it's one of the smaller development sites in the area. Just across the tracks is another 7 acres of parking adjacent to the warehouses there which could probably be appropriated for housing (there's much more that's warehousing, but that has a good freight rail connection and we have very little such intermodal facilities in Boston). Then to the north are two rail yards, which are probably necessary to remain as such. Then there are a couple of acres of parking around the train station, 13 acres of light industrial buildings (but mostly parking) east of the NEC north of the station, and 6 acres of parking west.

The big parcel is the old New Haven shops: 67 acres of unused land adjacent to the train station. There may be some major environmental remediation there, and it straddles the Dedham-Boston line, so the Dedhamites (especially) may be against redevelopment. But added all together, this accounts for nearly 100 acres of brownfield land, and at 80 units per acre, it would amount to 8,000 units of housing.

So, yeah, this would create traffic. But there's also the opportunity for transit to be oriented towards development, mostly if the T were to actually build the Fairmount Line how it should. If there was an electric (read: faster) train running to South Station ever ten minutes from Readville, this neighborhood would be about as accessible to downtown as Davis Square. And it's amenity-rich in addition to transit. There's a Stop-and-Shop nearby, and the Neponset River Greenway will provide a bike path from Mattapan to the Blue Hills (which are also relatively close). And as a comment suggests, you could continue the Fairmount Line out to Dedham Corporate Center, which happens to be adjacent to Legacy Place. So you could get there without Dunkin Donuts.

But most residents may well take the T. It might be instructive to look at Windsor Gardens further out the Franklin Line. It doesn't have the greatest Yelp reviews, but about half of them say "this place sucks, but damn is it nice to have an on-site Commuter Rail station"). Clif notes version of this is that it has 1000 units, 2000 residents, and the adjacent Commuter Rail station, with just commuter service (infrequent midday and weekend) and no parking, has 600 riders per day.

Let's say you build 5000 units adjacent to Readville, and have 25 minute service to South Station ever 10 minutes at rush hour (and every 15 minutes at other times): service all-but-indistinguishable from T subway lines. You'd probably have an even higher ratio of transit commuters than Windsor Gardens, so you'd have on the order of 3000 to 5000 passengers per day at that station alone, maybe more. Marty says we need 53,000 housing units: here's 10% of them. The Avalon and Jefferson apartments at Dedham Corporate Center (next to Legacy Place) have 600 units, no word on how many people live there for the 25 minute commute, but it's probably more than 0.

As this poster noted, if you create traffic congestion, you're building enough that you're actually making a difference. A few luxury units above South Station or Back Bay are a drop in the bucket (and should probably be offices, given the location, anyway). A few McMansions on 10 acre lots in deep suburbia don't really cut the mustard, either. 5,000 more moderately-priced, mid-rise apartments and good transit to serve them, well, that's how we begin to move the needle on what is becoming a real housing crisis in the area.

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The issue is that the region can't even provide adequate transit for people already here. Assuming that the region will provide more transit for the people already here, plus the additional amount needed for additional demand would require far more work than has typically happened.

You cannot begin to move the needle on housing without addressing the larger sources of demand including speculation and larger national growth. Otherwise you are just building against a larger trend, all the while increasing congestion, traffic, and other issues that need to be accommodated.

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Lately it seems that we are supposed to be apologetic because we are older, whiter and more well to do or solidly middle class in this Readville neighborhood. Since when is it a crime to be white?. Since when is it a crime to live in an area for years and have pride in our homes and work very hard to keep our neighborhoods clean and safe. Why should we be ashamed that we are now reaping the benefits of our many years of hard work and education? I suppose in this current political climate where people sneer at working people it's fashionable. Readville happens to be a quiet city neighborhood and we like it like that. If Chaosjake has a problem with our "fake neighborhood" watch (his words) and our non existent crime in Readville then perhaps he should move to where there is more crime and more accountable, representative neighborhood groups (again his words).m

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Deal with it.

You can choose your change, or you can play neighborhood clique and whine when called on your blatant attempts to exclude working people from your little playground and social club.

And then you get what you don't want because you failed to grow up when it mattered.

This isn't high school. Stop acting like it.

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I read the story late last night and thought there was way more snark. Maybe a few too many beers after the meeting. At least I waited until AFTER! Mr. Dedham & Angry Readville Guy didn't! Still doesn't change the fact that people don't like change and change is needed.

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Basically, change as you describe it means to allow for substantial real estate development for speculators, investors, and people who are moving here from other parts of the country with less jobs and want to live in a great area with affordable rents. This would be done without significant consideration for traffic for the area.

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You're not going to see any transit or traffic congestion alleviation in the area unless the density increases first. First you need the people to make the problem, then the problem, then the solution to the problem. But since the problem already exists and you don't have enough people, you better get some fast. That is why you should double down and fast track any development proposals.

Regarding the other worries - it's very easy to prevent non-owner occupancy for condos. The sale restriction just needs to be in there at the start [too hard to change to co-op after the fact] and you won't have the flood of absentee investors. And if you don't want new people in your neighborhood at all, well you're just being insular and there is no place for that in Boston.

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We already have enough demand for there to be a need to improve it.

The fact you would rather snarkily reply someone with an ad hominem speaks to how poor your argument is.

If you would rather live in a city that doesn't value maintaining its architecture with manageble long term development, than there are others you might enjoy more.

You can't begin to solve the housing without addressing the rest of the issues.

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With all due respect to the struggling middle class, I think that currently the rarest houses in Boston are those for the bottom 10% - the sort that fills the shelters. We have hundreds of homeless, and money to house them all in something slightly better. If Dutch or Swedes can put any homeless into a house of their own, there is no reason for Boston not to be able to do the same. Well, unless there's a fee hike for the violin classes for the talentless progeny of the said middle class.

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Fewer tax cuts and free building spaces for large multi-national corporations that are already subsidized by our tax dollars.

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When will the New Projects, be built

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Unless you are looking for a cheap place to live why would anyone live in hyde park? There is nothing attractive here except a cheap place to buy a house. We bought a house here about 2.5 years ago and i regret it. We will likely sell in about 4 years and will barely make any money the way things are looking now. It's amazing to me how pricey the surrounding areas of HP can be (roslindale, JP, milton, west roxbury) yet you can still buy a newly renovated house here for 300k. There is a reason for that.The demand for people wanting to live in HP is clearly low. With the insane prices in the rest of the city you would think there would be more people wanting to buy or rent in HP but theyre not. People apparently want the redline or nice restaurants, a grocery store other than a stop and shop, they want attractive things. There isnt even any good take out around here. Cleary and wolcott square are depressing, yet there could be so much potential. You have a consignment shop, a few barber shops, family dollar stores, scary looking convenient stores. The only thing the area seems to somewhat have thats decent is the fairmount grill and the supposed arrival of the bacaro italian restaurant.

The thing that's sad is the residents of HP dont want to see change. Theyre worried about traffic and thats the reason for not wanting any new housing. Thats crazy. Anyplace that is 'desirable' in the city has traffic.

I thought maybe HP would be the next roslindale as people get priced out there but i dont see that happening anytime soon.

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