As developers run out of land elsewhere in Boston, they start to drool over Readville

Site of proposed 600-unit complex in Readville

Check out the view of the Great Blue Hill from site of possible residential complex.

A developer is floating the idea of buying three parcels near the Sprague Street bridge in Readville for an eight-acre, 600-unit residential complex, just down the street from the 2.7-acre parcel another developer recently bought with plans for 240 apartments.

News of the possible market-rate complex with a pool had Readville residents in an uproar at a neighborhood meeting Thursday night, even though the developer does not yet own the land, let alone have formal plans to submit to the city.

The land, where Larkin Moving and P. Gioioso & Sons are now, overlooks Sprague Pond, hard by the Dedham line and just south of the Sprague Street bridge.

City Councilor and Readville native Tim McCarthy said developers are increasingly looking at all the decaying industrial buildings and their vacant lots in Boston's sleepy southern tip, from the Dedham line up to Reservation Road, as they run out of parcels elsewhere to redevelop and that residents need to start figuring out now what they want to see happen in a part of town where not much has happened for more than fifty years.

"This is a very valuable place for developers to look," McCarthy said at a meeting of the Readville Neighborhood Watch.

McCarthy said he was "as surprised as anyone" when developer Jordan Warshaw of the Noannet Group broached the idea of 600 market-rate units by Sprague Pond at a recent meeting with him and some other city officials. McCarthy said he told Warshaw that 600 units was just "too aggressive" for the area, which already gridlocks at rush hour.

Warshaw did not approach the Readville Neighborhood Watch with his idea; group President Frank Garibaldi said he only learned of it from the agenda of next week's meeting of the Hyde Park Board of Trade, at which Warshaw is the featured speaker.

McCarthy stressed the importance of residents to get ahead of development by painting two equally dystopic visions for all that land, all of which funnels into the decrepit Father Hart (Milton Street) bridge, a Wolcott Square with traffic systems installed in the 1960s and the intersection of West Milton and Sprague streets.

One is that developers could try to do what they're doing in South Boston and Dorchester and stuff as many residential units as they can there. He said the pricing pressures that forced people to look at Roslindale instead of Jamaica Plain are now forcing people to look at Hyde Park and Mattapan instead of Roslindale. In addition to the land itself, the Readville train station would prove a lure for the "transit-oriented" development officials love.

Or, he said, they could take advantage of the land's existing light-industrial zoning and move all the light industrial facilities being forced out of South Boston and Dorchester by residential development onto Hyde Park Avenue and Sprague Street. He said he's already heard rumors of a proposal for a park-and-ride lot on the avenue. And if residents think traffic is bad now, imagine even more trucks and buses, he said.

Resident Craig Martin questioned what's wrong with light industrial and noted the last time the area was rezoned, residents decided they wanted to keep Hyde Park Avenue reserved for that, in part because of the jobs it could mean. In a contentious exchange - McCarthy warned Martin three times not to question his love of Readville - McCarthy said that stretch now "looks like Beirut," except maybe for the gym and Grandma's Coffee Cakes, which recently bought the building next door so it could expand, and that while he's not sure just what should go in there, light industrial won't do the neighborhood any favors.

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Comments

traffic is the number one concern cited in most neighborhoods

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When talking about new development....the city is missing a huge opportunity to look at traffic overall and try and improve it which would include public transit improvements that would benefit residents of and who pass through Boston daily greatly !

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city should step up to the plate

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The city doesn't have a good track record of addressing traffic issues as they continue to hold back every part of the city, but the city can't rely on developers to fix the roads.

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Improving public

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Improving public transportation is 100% necessary if the city and region is going to grow and continue to be successful and remotely affordable for anyone other than the 1%. Instead Baker and others are cutting public transportation because they can't see 3 feet in front of themselves. People can't find a place to live because others want to hog all the space for their cars and the traffic they cause.

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Governor Baker is trying to

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Governor Baker is trying to clean up and rationalize an organization that is infamous for pissing money away. Once that is done, and the grown-ups are running the show, then we can talk about new spending. When the ship is sinking, you don't talk about sailing to a new port - you plug the hole and bail out the water.

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Real #1 concern in Boston is change

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traffic is only the number one concern when more parking (which allows for more traffic) isnt the #1 concern. Or its that the development doesn't "fit in" with the neighborhood, or that the architecture isnt interesting enough, or that its luxury apartments for foreigners, or that the shadows will be horrible because its too high (even downtown next to other towers). The real concern in Boston is any change.

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This is definitely,

This is definitely, absolutely, 100% the case in Readville. Any change is considered awful. When considering the proposed 240 unit complex up the street from this one, neighbors stood up in the meetings and yelled about the traffic, then stood up and yelled about the proposed traffic lights that were designed to help traffic flow.

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Real #1 concern is traffic

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As someone who lives in the area, the traffic situation is horrific (at times) now. You literally take your life in your hands pulling out of Readville on Milton to make turn, either way. So stand down solider.

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Typical

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All I seem to hear is people decrying the lack of "affordable" housing in Boston. Now there is a chance to add hundreds of units in an underused area where land is cheaper than other parts of Boston and the parcel size would allow for the construction of more "affordable" housing than smaller lots in highly developed areas, and the local NIMBY's say heck no!

No. What those housing advocates really want is premium space provided regardless of ability to pay to people who will vote for them for their next election as they work their way up the hack list from neighborhood council to city council to state assembly to state senator to the house of representatives and on and on. Buy the voters with other peoples' money. Robin Hood politics. That's leadership in America since FDR.

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But they won't be affordable

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But they won't be affordable for the middle class! Developers are building luxury units for foreign investors. If you followed real estate news in Boston or recent posts on UHub you would know this. NO ONE is building affordable units by the hundreds.

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Let's not get too carried away, though

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Market rate in Readville means something a lot different than market rate in the Back Bay; no developer of sound mind is going to try to put a luxury project in the middle of a place nobody north of Cleary Square has ever heard of.

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Adam, I would like to totally agree with you...

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however, a luxury apartment complex is going up (or has gone up), One Upland, in Norwood (my hometown) and the rents there are around $3,000 per month. Now Norwood, although a desirable place to live, by any stretch, is not Back Bay or Readville and I know it is not even Boston proper (so I know what you are saying). However, nothing surprises me anymore in regards to apartment pricing and/or where developers seek to build "luxury" apartment buildings.

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affordable?

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Since when does "market rate" translate to "affordable"?

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small-a affordable

I think he means that Readville is more affordable than, say, the Seaport. Not "affordable housing" in the deed-restricted / subsidized sense.

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600 here, 240 there. Someone

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600 here, 240 there. Someone should go back through Adams posts, figure out how many we've added, and figure out the carbon footprint. Apartments create way more CO2 along with their cars than a business would. They're a strain on the water, electric, gas and oil networks. Increasing the price of everything, including food. People see the traffic but can't see the hidden cumulative dangers. Even if adding stories doesnt consume more tree space than the first story, it still adds more furnaces and cars.
At some point Bostonians won't be able to move around their city or breath.

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But more than a park and ride lot?

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Or what about the bus yard that replaced the old broom factory on Hyde Park Avenue? I find it hard to believe a green (or green-ish) apartment building is going to be worse for the local environment than dozens of buses (although I wonder if what's even worse is all the old Crown Vics that Bay State Taxi - of Brookline! - parks next to the Shaw's further up Hyde Park Avenue).

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The city hasn't added

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The city hasn't added remotely enough units to keep pace with demand. That's a big reason the only people who can 'afford' to stay are either wealthy or low-income enough to obtain subsidized housing. These neighborhoods are where market rate units are reachable for the middle class, but without fail every time a vocal minority of residents goes bananas and scares city officials into denying a project or downzoning it.

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Wait what

You realize that if people don't live here, they're going to live somewhere else. Probably in the suburbs, where they have to drive long distances to get to work, or anywhere for that matter.

Denser housing is an unequivocal win for CO2 emissions.

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Unless you can cite a peer reviewed study

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that defends your statement "apartments create way more CO2 along with their cars than a business would", I would have to say you are blowing hot air. And your additional comment starting with "They're a strain on the water, electric, gas..." is bizarre.

The apartment complex would be near a major train (some CO2 emissions) exchange (albeit with issues) as well as bus service (more CO2 emissions), for starters. While some folks would have cars, others probably would avail themselves of taking public transit. Plus what Adam said.

Also:

http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/transportation/blogs/plane-train-or-automo...

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What? Apartment bldgs are

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What? Apartment bldgs are infinitely more green than the suburban sprawl that people are pushed out towards when they can't afford the city. Longer commute times, more cars, fewer bike and walking trips are all a result of low density housing. A building housing 400 housing units is much more energy efficient than 400 individual houses, it's also less taxing on water resources with less landscaping. You're argument is flat out wrong unless your world only consists of Readville.

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Wow. Ok.

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As someone who lives near there, all I can say they better look at traffic flows and putting some lights at intersections to start with. Honestly, a proposed 600 unit building is a bit scary knowing how well the traffic does not flow around the area. But I understand the impetus to build.

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As a fan of the decaying industrial look myself ...

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I'm thinking that, done right, Readville could be a really cool area (think of the Westinghouse complex, that old factory that's now a charter school further up Hyde Park Ave. and, yes, the gym). And existing residents, for the most part, might be shielded from the non-traffic effects of development by the train tracks on either side of Hyde Park Avenue. But it can't be done right without doing something about that damn bridge, which, even aside from the congestion, is a menace to everybody who uses it - just for funsies, try turning left from the bridge onto Hyde Park Avenue some afternoon. That curve under the train tracks and Wolcott Square's 1950s traffic design don't help, either.

But that gets back to McCarthy's point of the need for community action now: The area's zoned for industrial, the BRA doesn't really seem to care about the cumulative impacts of projects as they approve them one by one and developers certainly aren't going to work together to create a new urban village instead of just seeing how much they can get away with cramming on all those lots.

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It puts those of us who

It puts those of us who support denser housing in a tough spot. I want to see more supply because it's desperately needed. But I also know the BRA is doing this piecemeal and not planning it out correctly with any actual vision. It ends up pitting neighbors against neighbors fighting over variances. This would (mostly) be avoided if the zoning was up to date and planned out well and had some buy-in from the community or at least legitimacy.

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If we're going to have a "new

If we're going to have a "new urban village" in Readville, we need...

  1. Safer pedestrian infrastructure (It's almost impossible to cross West Milton, Hyde Park Ave, Neponset Valley Parkway, or the other main drags safely.)
  2. Improved traffic flow (would be great to add lights at both ends of the Father Hart bridge, sync them with the light at Wolcott, and if something gets built by Sprague Pond, we'll need a light at West Milton and Sprague. And it would be great to discourage people from cutting through from 128, but that's a pipe dream.)
  3. Extend the Zone 1A "indigo line" to Readville. (Right now, the $12.50 round trip just encourages more people to drive, at least as far as Fairmount.)
  4. Walkable businesses (drug store, coffee shop, small restaurants) (We have a good start in Wolcott Square, but anyone on the far side of the tracks feels unsafe walking over there. See #1 and #2, above.)
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Beating A Dead Horse But...

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I love all of the "what will it do to the neighborhood!" comments.

Do people want more housing or what?

Where else do you want to put it?

If you keep piling it into the Seaport, Southie or East Cambridge then those areas are just going to continue to attract the luxury apartments/condos that many on this site love to rip on because land prices are so expensive it's the only way to make those projects more viable. Which means they won't be affordable to every day folks and will drive up rents in the surrounding areas pushing those folks further out anyways.

Either way you're going to get hosed because more people are moving closer to the city.

People who used to live in the Back Bay/South End are moving to JP where it's cheaper. People who used to live in JP are moving to Rozzie because it's cheaper. People who used to live in Rozzie are moving to Westie/Hyde Park/Readville because it's cheaper.

And it all gets more expensive.

I'm not sure what to tell you - the city & state suck at investing in infrastructure around here. As these other areas build out, the roads will continue to suck and we won't be expanding the subway/rail system to handle it meaning those are going to get clogged too.

I suppose if you don't like it... move to Charlotte, Austin or Atlanta where you can buy property for 1/4 to 1/2 of the price as here. But then you'd have to live in NC, TX or GA (No thanks).

Great piece on this topic in the Globe today: http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/technology/2016/04/22/renting-allsto...

~NIMBY Rant Over~

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Actually

that was the opposite of a NIMBY rant. If all NIMBYs shared that view we would probably be doing well.

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hmm, running out?

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Not to nitpick here but... there is plenty of space to develop around here. Maybe not too many massive lots where a developer can run wild, but plenty of other opportunities. There's just politics and anti-change sentiment rather than space constraints really.,,, That and prioritizing traffic concerns over building places for people to live.

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It's a luxury building but an

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It's a luxury building but an example which comes to mind because it literally stands out is 180 Beacon Street. If developers were able to stack floors higher in that prime territory that could really take pressure off other areas.

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The attendees at Readville's

The attendees at Readville's so-called "neighborhood watch" meetings tend to skew unnaturally to older, whiter, and more well-to-do than the already fairly old, white, and solidly middle class neighborhood. This is largely due to the organization's refusal to embrace technology, so they only promote their events with paper flyers... and they often wait until the day of an event before flyering, and then flyer the neighborhood very unevenly.

Though I live less than a block from the Sunset Club where last night's meeting was held, they didn't flyer until after I was at work for the day, and I'm usually still in my office at 6:30pm. So I got home just in time to see people filtering out of the meeting, and found that someone had dropped a flyer in my mailbox while I was at work. At least they gave me one... they often skip my house (and, I hear, other houses where new residents live... I've only been here 7 years, so I'm new).

I would love a little notice when there's an important neighborhood issue to discuss, and the conversation shouldn't be controlled by this little fake neighborhood watch that's more concerned with complaining about busing than preventing the almost nonexistent crime in Readville. Don't other neighborhoods have accountable, representative neighborhood groups?

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Yeesh ...

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Sign up for nextdoor.com. That's how I found out about the meeting (why it showed up on my little neighborhood's page, given that we live nowhere near Readville, is another issue). You can set it to digest mode so once a day, you get an e-mail with headers of all the messages. I know nextdoor has gotten the reputation for being a place for anxious white people to post urgent messages whenever they see a black person walking down their street, but so far, ours, at least, is pretty much just notes about who's putting good junk out on the curb, who the good plumbers are and the occasional message about meetings in neighborhoods must of us never go to (I am a little concerned that the city has apparently signed some kind of deal with nextdoor, because if I really want to be blasted with press releases about how wonderful city departments are, I know where to find that).

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Okay, good tip. I have heard

Okay, good tip. I have heard of nextdoor, but I thought they were strictly a small town/suburban gripe fest. Signing up now.

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(I am a little concerned that

(I am a little concerned that the city has apparently signed some kind of deal with nextdoor, because if I really want to be blasted with press releases about how wonderful city departments are, I know where to find that).

I set it up to digest mode like you suggested, and right under that setting, there's a setting to unsubscribe from city agency emails.

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Ah, thanks!

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I'll have to go do that now.

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The market demands this type

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The market demands this type of housing and more. Atlanta, Austin, Miami, Seattle, are examples of cities that are keeping up with demand. Fun fact Atlanta had built more housing structures than Boston of 5 units or more, even Austin did as well! The bureaucracy is insane in this region. Just build build build!!!!!

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Is it going to be the culture of "no" forever in Hyde Park?

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I've owned a home in Hyde Park for five years and have attending community meetings at which every proposal is met with "no, no, no." Change happens. Let's build our community and create affordable, middle rate, and market rate housing. I've heard people in the Cleary and Logan Sq. areas say at meetings that they'd rather have all of the boarded up storefronts than more traffic. I guess some people prefer blight to change. But change is coming, like it or not, just as it did to JP (where I lived in the 80s -- quite a different place) and Roslindale (where I lived in the 90s -- also very different from today). Let's collaborate and work together and make it positive change.

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