Chinatown residents walked out of a meeting with state and city officials over development next to South Station yesterday after learning much of the "affordable" housing there would not be affordable to them and that state plans call for keeping a park at the site the same size rather than ensuring its expansion.
The meeting was the fifth and final meeting called by MassDOT and the BRA over the fate of parcels next to South Station now occupied by a MassDOT offic building, a steam plant and Reggie Wong Park. MassDOT wants to find a developer to turn the 5 1/2 acres of land into a "gateway" project with buildings up to 30 stories tall.
State officials said that up to 20% of any residential units in the project would be "affordable." But with most of those units held for people making 70% or more of the area median income, that means they would be mostly unaffordable for Chinatown residents, residents said.
Residents were also upset that the BRA design guidelines would not require a developer to expand the park or ensure it remains open during construction but would let it move it somewhere else on the site.
In a statement, Karen Chen, of the Chinese Progressive Association, says:
Chinatown is besieged as it attempts to fight back constant encroachment by the accelerating forces of gentrification and displacement. The redevelopment of Parcels 25 and 26 will have an enormous impact on our community for better or worse, with Chinatown’s fate hanging in the balance. As one of the most vulnerable yet beloved communities in Boston and beyond, the Chinatown community was truly disappointed to learn that this process was futile in meaningfully addressing our concerns and only succeeded in wasting their time. As a result, the community was left with no choice but to exit the process by exiting the room.