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.