Residential tower proposed for Coolidge Corner

The Globe reports a developer wants to stick a 21-story residential building in Coolidge Corner. Brookline officials, of course, are aghast.

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Brookline just doesn't want affordable housing

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It's all about keeping the kind of people who would move into affordable housing (working poor and lower middle class) out of brookline. If it were about density or parking or whatever other bs excuse they give, they would have worked with developers to make enough affordable housing to pass the 40b threshold. It's a decades old law, there has been plenty of time for brookline, hingham and the other towns that always complain about developments that include affordable housing to meet the requirements of affordable housing on their terms. Instead they do nothing about it and act like they are caught off guard whenever affordable housing is proposed.

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I think you're wrong

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I don't think the issue is affordable housing. I think the issue is that the 40Bs being proposed are in fact out of scale with the neighborhood, and that is what draws opposition. Of course the only way to make a 40B pencil out is through increased density, and the only way to increase density on the parcel is with 40B because of the zoning restrictions. So, this is where it ends up.

If the proposal was for luxury condos, middle class housing, or one giant home, many of the same folks would be against it. The complaint is about the built landscape.

Sure, some are also worried about the increased density. Brookline has 35% more 1st graders than it did ten years ago. With eight K8 schools, that calls for building an additional three schools, in a built-out environment. It's a very difficult nut to crack.

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Schools

Propose a 22 story building where the first two stories are a school. Problem solved.

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Have you looked at that picture?!?!

21 Stories?? They wouldn't allow that in the South End, let alone Brookline.

The developers don't care about affordable housing. They are using affordable housing in order to get around zoning restrictions. The developers care about profit and profit only.

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Unions

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I'm pro union but it's impossible to build in the Boston area with the construction costs without a building being sold as luxury. Crunch the numbers and see where the costs are. It's not the materials. Yes developers are greedy but in all other cities they do seem to build middle income housing. It's not that all developers in Boston have a black heart. It's just not conducive

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The money quote

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"Selectwoman Nancy Daly said the number of developments being built under the state’s affordable housing law — Chapter 40B — are contributing to overcrowding in the town’s schools. .... “I really feel that 40B has turned into a disaster for this town,” said Daly""

Of course the headline says it all - "Brookline officials want moratorium on new affordable housing developments'

Again, there is no funding issue with BPS or affordable housing crisis in Boston without the aggressive defense played by the wealthy, largely liberal suburbs against affordable housing or especially educating more poor people. They got theirs and now they'll sit back, give money to WBUR and bemoan the plight of the urban poor.

No-one is looking to build Bromley-Heath 2.0 next to John Henry's house but heaven forbid a few poor people move to Brookline.

I will say, this addition would make that Trader Joes even worse so I am against it.

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Concerns about school overcrowding are realistic

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You don't see this complaint in Boston because BPS has excess capacity (hence the recent report suggesting closing schools). In many surrounding towns, the schools are already overcrowded. In some towns/cities, schools are already functioning with temporary mods, and building new schools is a big expense. In a place like Brookline, there's a shortage of space to put new schools.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't build affordable housing - I'm a big believer in it. But this would be an issue even if this project didn't have any affordable units. There has to be civil discussion about this with respect for people's concerns. Casting aspersions and belittling people one disagrees with is not productive.

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I suppose aspersions aren't necessary

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but it's extremely convenient to claim more low income housing simply can't be built and to enjoy all the benefits that come with not having to support poorer families. Just look at this article - they aren't proposing to solve anything, just to again defer any outcome that leads to something other than ensuring people who get to live in Brookline are at least upper middle class.

This 'gosh, we'd like to but we really can't' is pretty weak when you look at what the City of Boston has to shoulder in terms of regional homelessness and poverty.

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No one seems to want to

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No one seems to want to acknowledge that Boston is a regional dumping ground for people requiring social services. Other cities and towns should be paying Boston for taking social service cases off their hands or be forced to take care of their own rather than deporting people to the capitol.

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In some towns/cities, schools

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In some towns/cities, schools are already functioning with temporary mods, and building new schools is a big expense. In a place like Brookline, there's a shortage of space to put new schools.

At an average price of $1.6 million per home, even if the tax rates are as low as in Boston and Cambridge, I'm sure they can figure something out. The children are the future, after all.

Also, I can think of a few parts of town with plenty of square footage for new schools. They're golf courses right now, of course, but I'm sure we can get the eminent domain paperwork drawn up in plenty of time to serve the town's burgeoning youth population.

In conclusion, 40B is a broken system, but I'm now on board with it just to watch rich people in lily-white suburbs quaking in their boots at the prospect of poor kids of color invading their precious goddamned schools.

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No, but it would need a vote of the state legislature

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The golf course, Larz Anderson, and many of Brookline's town-owned open spaces are protected by Article 97 and other state-level protections. To say nothing of the fact that the places where there are large bits of open space are decidedly not in the locations where the kids live.

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Lars Anderson is not article 97 land.

But the town has other restrictions there.

(Also, there are plenty of kids who live in the are of the golf course, the Baker school is overcrowded, Chestnut Hill reality hasn't even begun their project in that area, and the new school was just approved about 1/2 a mile from the golf course)

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Proximity

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The proximity of this part of Brookline to Boston means it will always have this issue - it is not a typical suburb. It's literally closer to the downtown than many neighborhoods in the actual city. While this particular project does seem out of scale (and ugly), it's unrealistic to think it's going to stay the low-density "suburban" haven residents seem to want. To continue to enjoy the benefits such proximity to the city offers while avoiding any effects of urbanization is unrealistic.

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In a just world, Brookline

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In a just world, Brookline would have been absorbed by the city instead of starting the trend of stymying Boston's growth while benefiting from everything else about the city - the businesses and the transit and the museums and overnight parking available on the borders. Brookline has conveniently latched onto Boston like a little leech, enjoying being a de-facto urban neighborhood except when they want to keep black people out of their schools or shoo the homeless three blocks down the road so they become Boston's problem.

#annexbrookline.

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Do you know why Brookline isnt part of Boston?

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If you don't, let me know and I'll go Google some links for you. Hint: It's the same reason West Roxbury, Roslindale and JP ARE part of Boston (and happened the same year).

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I know the history, and I

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I know the history, and I still think it's caused long term damage and problems. In a sane world, everything within 128 would be part of the same city government. I think 2016 especially has proved that just because a bunch of people vote one way, doesn't in any way make that vote smart or beneficial.

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Adam, two thumbs up for

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Adam, two thumbs up for catching an excellent opportunity to use "aghast"!

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I'm all for it (and I live in Brookline)

We need more density in Brookline. 21 stories is certainly taller than most, though I'm not opposed. In reality though, rather than arguing about 21 stories in one building, we need 3-6 stories EVERYWHERE that it isn't right now. Coolidge Corner can have the density of Harvard Square and no one would be the worse off and it'd have plenty of character.

On the schools issue, the struggle is real. We spent 5+ years arguing about where to put a new school to handle all the additional enrollment from millennials like me moving in and having kids. After arguing about not being able to remove an inch of green space from anywhere in town, we've decided to put it in South Brookline, away from the highest density (and effectively bolted onto an existing school).

So yeah, new developments in North Brookline require thinking about the schools (the impacts are real) but it doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, it just means we need to think about where to put a 10th or 11th school too. It also means we need to start accepting the creative solutions EVEN IF IT MEANS LOSING SOME PARKING FOR A STORE, or temporary disruptions, or a playground on the roof, or HORROR OF HORRORS, the use of eminent domain.

We need to densify, and densification also means letting go of the idea of exurban school settings with giant setbacks, room for all parents to drop off kids in minivans simultaneously, and the idea that kids don't live in the middle of a dense urban environment every other moment of their lives.

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Why do we need to densify?

Just because some developer wants to make money?

Why not ask them to build a park with a pond and trees and a small affordable housing development?

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because we want to be an interesting diverse community

We live in a city. We live in/near Coolidge Corner or Brookline Village or Washington Square because we like walking to places and having a million places to eat and shop and enjoy our community.

There's significant more demand to live in these (wonderful) areas than there is housing to meet that. Densifying is exactly how we enable folks to move in, to be our neighbors and friends, and to support our local businesses (that are always complaining about not enough parking and not enough foot traffic, fwiw), and to share in enjoying the community we built.

While I understand the reluctance to "be Manhattan", upscaling from 1 and 2 story to 3-5 story (ESPECIALLY above single-story retail) and yes, in places 10-25 story buildings enables us to do this. I didn't move to Brookline to have a yard or not see my neighbors. I moved to a multi-story brownstone so I can be close to the things that matter to me, to avoid having to own a car, to live in a society of people who agreed to share our parks and sidewalks and cafes with each other in order to have richer, more fulfilling lives. And I'm positive all of this would be true with twice as much housing in walking distance as we have today.

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Is this true though?

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If you're arguing that lots of people love living in a dense Brookline, I agree. I see the apartments in Brookline Village where clearly people could afford a single family in Roslindale live. From within Brookline, I believe that the overriding interest is to be thriving place full of stores, restaurants, good schools, green spaces, etc...

However, I don't want to see Brookline residents crying about their tough lot due to 40B regs when they live in one of the wealthiest towns in the entire country.

http://realestate.boston.com/news/2015/06/22/why-brookline-just-ranked-a...

It seems there is a cake/eat it too situation here. You (not you personally) want to live 5 minutes from Kenmore Square and 10 minutes from downtown but free of all the complications and obligations of living in a big city.

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I agree with you

I agree with you wholeheartedly.

One of my biggest concerns about moving here (from Cambridge) was that it was TOO economically homogeneous and it makes it too easy to forget about everyone else's situation, and doubly so for kids growing up here. I grew up in a far exurban place (not in New England) and the lack of perspective among my peers for even those just barely not UPPER middle class was distressing.

Brookline should be at its best as a diverse community (including economic diversity). The town prides itself on progressiveness and socially aware citizens (including children), being sure we're not a bubble is a huge part of accomplishing that.

I have no idea about the reasons 40b is good or bad policy, but we definitely need housing for all sorts of income levels, more housing in general (which should help price some, but not necessarily enough), housing for people at all points in their life (hell, some of the 40b developments are already just senior housing and we're freaking out), and for people needing all kinds of different physical spaces. Brookline CAN do this, and I think many of us in town WANT this, but we have to do a good job of being louder than the busybodies who want to pretend they moved to Maynard with better Thai food.*

* Note, I have no idea how good the Thai food is in Maynard.

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With all due respect.....

Why did you move to Brookline? You don't like the cultural diverse places to eat and shop down near where I work in Dudley Square? You should come move down here, there are plenty of Brownstones to live in at a much cheaper price, and it is already diverse.

What makes Brookline so special to you that you moved there from Cambridge, And why did you pick Brookline over the South End, Roxbury, Mattapan Square or other locations that have diversity and Brownstones?

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Not that I really have to

Not that I really have to defend my housing choices...

As you may imagine, there are lots of reasons one picks their housing location. Work locations (and frequency of transit that gets us there), proximity to family, proximity to religious institutions, etc. Consequently, we were looking to stay in Cambridge or head to Coolidge Corner and we found a place that met our requirements first in Coolidge Corner. If you are suggesting we intentionally passed over the City of Boston, that is true as the portion of Allston between Cambridge and Coolidge Corner was not one we were interested in returning to. None of which is a commentary on the city's other fine neighborhoods.

Living on the 66, though, we still get to experience Cambridge (and Dudley) regularly and are happy to have picked somewhere with access to many parts of the inner core.

But, really, I'm not sure what your point is... unless you're arguing that Brookline shouldn't exist at all, wouldn't you prefer that people move to Brookline looking to change the NIMBY/homogenizing culture? If I lived in the South End, wouldn't Brookline just be marginally more opposed to building these apartments?

I think we agree about what is desirable and potentially even the way Brookline should work with bordering Boston neighborhoods as well as other inner core cities.

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I just think people have this unconcious bias/motive.

I understand the three things you mentioned, or things that might make Brookline unique (family, proximity to work, and Kosher establishments),
but people in Brookline say they want diversity, but not the diversity that Roxbury or Everett has, or else they would have moved there. Besides the Kosher establishments, Brookline restaurants and commercial areas are pretty much expensive eateries that only the wealthy can afford on a regular basis, and that's why these establishments are there in the first place (forget the fact that the dozens of affordable places to eat 25 years ago have been replaced wiht banks, cell phone stores and other more expensive places to eat)

And if Brookline gets too diverse, it doesn't become Brookline anymore right?

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I don't live in Roxbury or

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I don't live in Roxbury or Everett because I would prefer my commute to involve fewer than two transfers and take less than 30 minutes, not because I don't like diversity.

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Because car culture and carchitecture kills

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Climate change, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, killing people in the streets by running them over, etc.

Driving everywhere kills. We need to stop that and denser cities are the way that happens.

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Kinopio?

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Did you forget to log in?

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I did finally read the article

And I totally buy that the town staff are overwhelmed by the number of applications working their way through.

That being said...

1) People in town raising a stink because they want to pretend they live in Ayre surely aren't helping the process, so it's incumbent on us residents not to let them drive the conversation (and the speed of approvals).

2) Brookline town government is pretty slow for noble reasons (like lots of volunteer committees), but the city is already too big for it to work well, even without the (needed) densification. Taking on more city-style government would help, but obviously too late for these projects.

3) Without a great sense of the 40b projects in the past, we may need to buy SOME additional time for review (town staff can only do so much), but that doesn't excuse any attempts to destroy the viability of the project through slowness. I don't know the staff that work on this, but I imagine a well-supported Program Manager should be able to build a schedule that is doable by staff but also credible to the developers (and future residents!) that we intend to get the stuff built.

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It seems to me that if the

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It seems to me that if the current staffing levels are insufficient to review the number of projects that are being proposed, the solution is not to slow down the approvals process (which just costs everyone more money) but to hire a full time staff so that applications can be processed more quickly. Otherwise this is just an excuse to slow down development (which I think is exactly what a lot of the people quoted in this article are secretly looking for).

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Male Brookline Great Again!

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Ugh, what an eyesore - I actually had to look at an overhead map to know there was a building in between those buildings with frontage - I thought it was something else - silly me and I've lived in the 'Line for 10 years.

I think it would kill some of the character of the neighborhood myself - maybe 10-12 stores but that looks like someone dropped an office park from 128 ontop of a few shops. I think part of the reason against apartments may also be that I don't think the town gets as much tax money, basically you're getting density and sales tax dollars but clogging the area. I'd rather it be further down Harvard by a couple blocks, closer to JFK crossing, but hey.

I have a feeling the town is going to fight this. Brookline is very much a NIMBY sort of place, though I really don't think it is a prejudice against the poor. Just look at the people on Cypress and Juniper streets, as well as some places along the Allston line.

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Some things will never change

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Among them are Brookline's NOTORIOUS snob zoning, and the grotesque hypocrisy if a town full of socioeconomically well off 'progressives' who love lecturing others.

Look at a map: Brookline is surrounded by Boston in 3 sides, almost cutting off Allston/Brighton, yet the two places never amalgamated and are even separate counties!

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You are comparing to one of

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You are comparing to one of the densest zoned places around. It sounds like by your definition anything that doesn't match the nearest high density area is "snob zoning" but a variety of zoning is usually a good thing.

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Any zoning that is used to

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Any zoning that is used to keep a neighborhood less dense than the market would have it is snob zoning.

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Definitely

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On the map it even looks like a parasite burrowing into Boston.

Brookline residents think they are immune to the forces affecting the city (all the while mooching off of the city)

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This development would get resistance in Boston too.

You don't think the people of WR, Southie, or even Brighton would say this building is out of place? What if they wanted to put it in Roslindale Square?

The building looks out of place, the people who live in it really don't matter in my opinion.

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