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Apartments atop adult ed approved for Old Colony Avenue in South Boston; lawsuit possible

Old Colony proposal, with birds

Architect's rendering, featuring birds.

The Board of Appeals yesterday approved plans by developer Patrick Mahoney for a six-story building at 200 Old Colony Avenue that would include five stories of apartments atop the Notre Dame Education Center, which would move from its existing building on the site into the new building.

The building would house 49 apartments and 31 parking spaces - with two set aside for school administrators. The school currently has 8 parking spaces. A single-family house on the land would also be razed to make way for the new building.

Mahoney's attorney, George Morancy, said the 60-foot-tall building is within an easy walk of the Andrew Square Red Line station, which he said the school's students and faculty would use - as would many of the residents.

The mayor's office supported the project, but City Councilors Ed Flynn, Michael Flaherty, Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu and state Sen. Nick Collins sent aides to oppose the project because of neighbor opposition over the building's density and concerns over parking and traffic.

One of those neighbors, David Byrne of Cottage Street, said he has already talked to his lawyer about how to appeal the board's approval.

Byrne and his wife, Jennifer, who have three children 6 and under, said they are worried about another traffic tragedy killing a young child once the building is fully occupied. "It doesn't fit the scale of the community," Byrne said, adding that with no backyard, his kids would lose the ability to play on their small street for fear of getting run over, and that the building would cut off sunlight and air flow.

Another resident noted that all the residential buildings surrounding the site are at 35 feet or less.

The board vote was 5-2, with Chairwoman Christine Araujo and Marie St. Fleur voting against. Araujo said she admires the work Notre Dame does, but that she sided with residents on the traffic and density concerns, saying many people are going to drive to the school.

Morancy said that more than 300 residents had signed a petition in favor of the proposal.

The BPDA board approved the project last month.

200-202 Old Colony Ave. project notification form (47M PDF).
Project changes since that was filed (1.8M PDF).

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Comments

The only way to stop these oversize developments is to hire an experienced Real Estate Attorney. The developers know that they have no leg to stand on in Superior Court.

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Andrew Square is getting swamped with 60' building projects left and right when it's usually 40'ish feet or less.

People on neighborhood boards, associations, and city hall offices are all friends, related, or somehow involved and the ones who would usually stand up for building height and density issues are suspiciously quiet.

FOIA requests could make for interesting reading for any intrepid reporters out there.

Sincerely,

a powerless citizen

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Voting closed 4

Explain why this is a problem or even affects you?

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for the air quality, air flow, sunlight,trees, birds, open space and vehicle traffic affected by a sudden jump in building height in my neighborhood is a concern and how it affects YOU.

Sometimes Swirly you really need to just keep it to yourself.

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I think that means "use facts".

Not hilariously bizarre claims about birds and airflow being affected by a *gasp* Parisian level building height.

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You are having problems getting people to believe that the height of the building will cause a giant whole in the atmosphere to form and suck in all the birds and your family.

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If you want the degree of open space you seem to, maybe a city isn't the best place for you to live?

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Explain?!? Handing out assignments in the comment section again? Bless your heart.

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A request to see what study or what information led this poor soul to believe that the difference in height matters to airflow and birds and sunlight.

Because, frankly, the whole screed sounds like a rather extreme and histrionic twisting of an engineering study about densely packed, city-block sized sky scrapers in large areas of Manhattan or Hong Kong.

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At least I dont spend 24/7 on Uhub comments

I love everyone asking for studies as if I'm some hysterical townie who mutters to themselves on the bus.

Hardly.

When the home you paid a substantial amount of money for suddenly has a 60 foot wall blocking one half your entire property I assume you'd have a different tune.

But like I said, you spend all of your time here so....

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My neighbor's home was built 2 years after mine. Maybe I should sue them, too. Eh, screw it, I'll sue everyone within line of sight. Jerks want to have housing on their own land! The nerve!

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It's a transit hub with Red Line subway service and a half-dozen bus routes, and it's got relatively good highway access with both I-93 and the Mass. Pike within a mile or so. With the population of Boston booming thanks to a strong economy, we need places for new arrivals to live so that the folks here don't get displaced. Dot Ave., Old Colony Ave., Dorchester St., and Southampton St. are all wide arterial routes (not quiet side streets) that ought to be built up.

What I find absolutely ridiculous is: "Araujo said she admires the work Notre Dame does, but that she sided with residents on the traffic and density concerns, saying many people are going to drive to the school." So, the school already exists which means that many people already drive to the school. What does this project change about that? The square footage of the school even shrinks by about 20%.

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This is my neighborhood too and I can't wait to see Old Colony become a vibrant street instead of dilapidated warehouses with a highway running through it.

Instead of complaining about "tall" buildings, how about we get the city to take away some driving lanes and widen the barely-existing sidewalks there? Add some cycle tracks, too. This is one of those "hold your breath" parts of my bike commute.

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This is my neighborhood too and I can't wait to see Old Colony become a vibrant street instead of dilapidated warehouses with a highway running through it.

One of those structures DOES say 'Speedway' on it.

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Sorry kids, it's time we stop pretending that these areas, steps from downtown and transit, are quiet suburban neighborhoods. This is on a large main street close to 2 stops, the height asked for is more than appropriate.

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THE BIRDS!

Can't you see - even in the drawing they are completely stressed out from the lack of airflow due to 10 extra feet in height!

Who will speak for the airflow? For the birds?

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WHEN?

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...they've ALREADY APPROVED 5000 !*@#%@ TIMES ALL OVER THE CITY?

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I live nearby to this new project, and while I don't welcome a 6 story building where a two story once stood, please remember the massive project that is slated for across the street. 650+ new apartments, 98k sq feet of retail, 550+ parking spots and buildings that range up to 21 stories tall. Old Colony Ave is on the move...

http://www.southbostononline.com/washington-village-235-old-colony-first...

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I'm confused about the Cottage Street neighbor who says they are going to lose their back yard. The proposal doesn't take anyone's back yard on Cottage street and backs up to Lark and Frederick St. The traffic thing also sounds weird. If the school is already there, how is allowing it to stay going to cause more people to drive to it? To be fair to the residents on/near Old Colony, the city should up-zone the entire stretch of Old Colony from Dorchester Street to Dorchester Ave. to allow for apartment buildings like this. That way, at least, developers would be more incentivized to consolidate parcels and allow the people who have been living there in small one-off houses to cash in on some of the value that the developers will be able to reap regardless through spot zone decisions like this. This is how those people living by the (now gone) cement plant near South Bay were able to get $1mm for their small houses. The development is coming to this part of the city one way or another. We have to fit another 100,000 people somewhere....

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I think he was saying he doesn't have a backyard so he lets his little kids play in the street and somehow this development will turn that from a good place to play to a dystopian motor raceway.

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... having moved here because it's a cheap, not-so-nice place.

Now, when you read this abutter's complaints and then actually LOOK at the current property in question (link below), you see it's just another NIMBY who's likely to lack any merit in court.

Frankly, this area should be built even higher, especially along Dot Ave where it's an industrial wasteland mostly.

Tell me you sincerely believe this guy's kids play on this section of Old Colony:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/200+Old+Colony+Ave,+Boston,+MA+02127/@42.333031,-71.0540516,3a,60y,101.15h,92.93t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sSWPHeDWt7B8jIbH_f1GSBg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x89e37a6090c713d3:0xc6c3f38824ae3c25!8m2!3d42.3331143!4d-71.0538161

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The kids play on Cottage.

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Other people shouldn't have a place to live because this guys' kids like to play on the street. Seems like a good reason to me.

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Most of the comments from the opposition boiled down to: This development is larger and taller than the buildings around it, therefore it will cause traffic to increase and therefore my children will be killed by a speeding car.
You think I'm exaggerating but watch the public testimony: of Jennifer Byrne.

If the concern is that traffic will get worse, won't that mean cars are moving slower? Or do people believe traffic will simultaneously be more congested and yet the cars will move faster?

The ZBA seems to be halting any development without parking and that's a damn shame because it'll only cause more car ownership in the city, exacerbating the problems with congestion we already suffer. It also means fewer new units built with every new development including a full floor of dead space.

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it's only problematic when the developers do not provide parking then the residents are forced to park on the street.
And please don't say parking isn't needed unless you are from these neighborhoods.

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...new Red Line cars are on their way, and transit represents a cheaper and lower stress option for many who might otherwise choose to drive to destinations within transit service areas. Many people want to live in Boston without the hassle and significant expense of car ownership. They'll contribute to the local economy and pay taxes. Allowing developments without parking or with fewer parking spaces will help get lower cost buildings built. Car ownership limits density.

What we should have are minimum requirements for short term/commercial delivery space at all new developments. Developers won't fail to plan as much parking as they believe they can sell.

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It's only a problem when developers do provide parking. When your unit comes with a parking space, you'll have no disincentive to own a car and use it more frequently. It becomes a passive decision to own a car when there are no consequences to doing so.

When your unit doesn't come with a parking space you'll have to make the more active decision to own a car and deal with the costs and headaches associated with street parking or renting a space a block or two away, and worrying about dents and street cleaning and all sorts of other concerns. These pains are good because they are natural disincentives to owning cars in the city.

Also, street parking is not a right. I don't care how long you lived somewhere or how long you were parking on the street; the cost of street parking is HEAVILY subsidized by non car-owners, which is a shame because I don't like my tax dollars going towards subsidizing you inefficiently storing private property on public land.

I don't love talking about New York (mostly because it is a dreadful city full of dreadful people who can't hold a candle to us up in Boston, either culturally, through sports, or through their horrible, shrill accents) but one lesson to be taken from their grimy metropolis is that if you don't provide parking in buildings and provide meaningful transit alternatives, most people won't own cars. I have wealthy friends who own entire brownstones on the Upper West Side and luxury condos in Midtown. They make millions of dollars a year, and easily have the means to own however many cars they choose. Funny thing is, they don't. They tell me there is no reason to have a car in NYC because its easier to get everywhere using the MTA.

I get that us civilized folk in Boston don't have quite the same level of public transit access as the swine in NY do, but this development is an 8 minute walk to Andrew Station and a 14 minute total trip to South Station. If parking wasn't included, the default decision of residents would be to not own a car and use public transit instead.

Also what logic are you using to say that unless I'm from a neighborhood I can't have an opinion on the parking needs? Do I have to have been born in the neighborhood or can I have just lived there for a number of years? How many years? Do I need to be the third generation from a neighborhood to really be 'from' there? Stop with the gatekeeping, my opinion is as valid as any other.

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No trees. Bummer.

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Marty Walsh’s housing agenda is by far the strongest point of his mayoralty. If Menino hadn’t made every single housing development subject to an abutter’s veto, we wouldn’t be in the housing price mess we’re in now. These city councilors should have to go meet with all the future occupants of these buildings and explain why the councilors didn’t want them in this neighborhood. Trying to keep people out of a neighborhood is wrong and often illegal unless your basis is a NIMBY one apparently.

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