Brighton corner could get a bigger Whole Foods - and 270 residential units

Proposed building at Washington and Allston streets in Brighton

Architect's rendering of the view at Washington and Allston streets.

A New York developer has filed detailed plans to replace the Whole Foods and Citizens Bank branch on Washington Street in Brighton with a 270-unit residential building - with enough space to build a new and larger Whole Foods and a Citizens branch.

The proposal for the 2.3-acre site would completely reshape the corner of Washington and Allston Streets, which currently features a large parking lot, with a building up to six stories tall. It would be across the street from another proposed Washington Street residential building, on the other side of Corey Road at the Brookline line.

In its filing with the BPDA, Kimco Realty Corp. of New Hyde Park, NY, says its new building would have 323 parking spaces in a three-level garage. The current parking lot has 151 spaces.

The proposal calls for more than doubling the size of the Whole Foods, from roughly 20,000 square feet to more than 45,000 square feet - room enough for both more groceries and a cafe.

The bank branch, though, would be about half as large as the current stand-alone building.

Among the proposal's benefits, Kimco says, is that it would essentially urbanize what is now a suburban expanse of asphalt:

The existing condition of the Project Site as a small “suburban” retail center with surface parking is incongruous with its urban location and surroundings of generally mature urban residential and related development. The Project seeks to replace what is a sea of asphalt and small retail buildings that turn their backs to the public streetscape, in the case of the existing grocery store, with a vibrant mixed-use development activated by retail and residential ground floor uses with housing above and all parking concealed mid-block from the surrounding streets. A complete streets approach to the public realm sidewalk design will provide improvements on all three public sides of the Project Site to enhance the public realm and improve the pedestrian experience.

Kimco estimates construction would take two years, once it wins all the required approvals. In addition to the BPDA, the zoning board must also give its OK.

15 Washington St. project-notification form (101M PDF).

Kitty corner from across Corey Road:

Proposed Washington Street building

Bird's eye view (white building at lower right has not yet been built):

Proposed Washington Street building

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Comments

Sad we're destroying the

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Sad we're destroying the beautiful urban settings of parking lots like this. These developers have no shame.

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Your parking lot...

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...might be someone else's view of the sky from their windows, instead of the wall of the building next door.

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Don't worry

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In this case, the next building up the hill is dozens of feet above the parking lot. The bank and grocery store border two other sides of it. The building across the street is just looking into the parking lot.

This is a prime spot for redevelopment and the increased size of WF means more variety on the shelves (this has always been a small one ever since they simply took over the Bread & Circus there). So many times when I want a few things from there, but I end up going somewhere else too just because they didn't have shelf space for some particular spice or whatever. Even the lot has been completely unorganized to now. Random space widths, random lane widths, random turns around the bank, and an unforgiving set of entrances to Washington St with lots of pedestrians AND crossings.

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Voting is closed. 14

1. Good! Great use of space

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1. Good! Great use of space for more shopping and given the changes around Cory Rd its nice have whole foods open on both sides.

2. I support more housing all along the Washington st corridor, especially this concrete jungle, but can we maybe make them put effort into making the B Line less terrible? Yes, you can walk to the C/D line but that's not the selling point of a place like this. Its that its a block from the B Line.

3. The mid block exit onto Washington from that Whole Foods is already a shit show (I drive through here every day) I hope maybe they can force traffic out onto Alston St maybe?

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And the 65!

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The 65 bus runs Washington Street. It's a great resource, but the interarrivals are too spaced on rush hour and off-peak, and it doesn't run at all on Sunday.

More 65 bus please!

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Voting is closed. 16

All of these!!

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Especially the exit onto Corey and Allston. So dumb that’s all the traffic has to go out onto Washington.

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Yes to the B Line

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Comm Ave past Packards Corner is way, way overbuilt, with 6 lanes of traffic carrying fewer vehicles than some roads carry on 2. In addition, there are narrow sidewalks, minimal green space and the Green Line tracks and stations are not optimal for faster operation. I wrote a blog post a while ago about how it could be improved, basically by rebuilding the T tracks slightly to the south, having two lanes of traffic and parking on the edges, and creating a median park with the rest of it (adding 5 acres of green space, including bike lanes and walking paths and the like; it would be nearly as wide as the median of Comm Ave in Boston).

The City/State have a plan for the street, but it's milquetoast at best, keeping several lanes of highway-like traffic on a road which just doesn't have that sort of demand. Yet as usual the traffic engineers overdesign for cars, and everyone else is stuck with the short end of the stick.

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Could you imagine

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Imagine if they took some of that extra space and made an express track for the B Line to Kenmore (if only 1 then it'd make stops inbound in the morning and outbound in the evening).

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Voting is closed. 5

Yes, Please!

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I live around the corner, so this is both my local Whole Foods and Citizens Bank branch. The supermarket does need to be bigger and the bank smaller (they're rattling around in that space now). I'll be sad to lose access while the construction is going on, but happy when it's complete.

Though as a new homeowner I should probably pout NIMBYily about *more* housing in my neighborhood... (Nope, given what I spent on my condo, I can also agree we desperately need the housing too!)

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Voting is closed. 26

Where is open space?

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This project has no publicly accessible open space. Unacceptable.

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Explain

Where is it required to?

This isn't a former tideland.

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Voting is closed. 4

Whole Foods Reconstruction Means Neighborhood Gentrification

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In a 1971 report, titled “Washington Street-Corey Road Neighborhood Development Program,” the City of Boston’s Boston Redevelopment Authority [BRA] explained why the Brighton/Brookline neighborhood, in which a suburban New York-based real estate deal-making firm wants to now construct an 89.5 to 80.5 feet high apartment complex of 270 primarily market-rate residential units (that would also include a reconstructed Amazon-Whole Foods monopoly-priced grocery store, a new Citizens Bank building and 323 parking spaces) was designated to be a neighborhood in which construction of low-income elderly housing units was to be prioritized:

“…Recognizing the critical need for elderly housing and having seen the repeated failures of earlier efforts, the Allston-Brighton Local Advisory Committee formed an Elderly Housing Site Finding committee. The purpose of this group was to survey all possible elderly housing sites in the community and to recommend that parcel which was most desirable, as well as feasible.

“A representative from the Boston Housing Authority and a planner from the Boston Redevelopment Authority met weekly with this group over a period of three months. The survey and analysis which the committee undertook was the most comprehensive elderly housing site study ever undertaken in Allston/Brighton…Only one site, at Washington and Corey Road, appeared suitable…The Elderly Housing Site Finding Committee recommended to the Boston Redevelopment Authority that it initiate whatever appropriate actions were required in order to make available the Washington-Corey Road site for elderly housing…

“The proposed use of the Washington-Corey Road NDP urban renewal area is in conformance with two major policies established by the 1965/1975 General Plan for the City of Boston…”

Yet according to the New Creek LLC and WSP1725 Holding LLC affiliates of the suburban Long Island-based Kimco Realty Corporation of New Hyde Park, NY’s “Project Notification Form” for its 15 Washington Street real estate development deal in Brighton/Brookline, “existing uses on the Project Site consists of a Whole Foods neighborhood grocery store, a Citizens Bank, and surface parking;” but “the existing condition of the Project Site as a small `suburban’ retail center with surface parking is incongruous with its urban location.”

So Kimco Realty’s “proposed architectural solution” is to create “a street wall along Washington Street of a height of 89.5 to 80.5 feet, which is the tallest portion of the Project at a street edge;” and, “as Washington Street slopes down towards Brookline…this component is stepped down to five floors at the back of the sidewalk line or 65 feet in height from 89.5 to 80 feet of height at the west end of the Project Site.” In addition, Kimco’s affiliates also propose to construct “a 4-story, or 49-foot height section” in a predominantly market rate, non-elderly apartment complex “along Allston Street.”

But, as Kimco’s Project Notification Form indicates, a “special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeal” to build predominantly market rate apartments on the 15 Washington Street site in Brighton, which is still just zoned for commercial use, is required; and “under the underlying zoning…the allowed building height” at the 15 Washington Street site is only “up to 35 feet, which bulk and dimensional requirements are below the anticipated…height of the Project.”

Yet Section 7-3 of the Boston zoning code provides, in pertinent part, that the board may grant a variance "only if it finds that all of the following conditions are met:

"….(b) That…the granting of the variance is necessary for the reasonable use of the land… [ and]

"(c) That the granting of the variance will…not be injurious to the neighborhood or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare[.]

"In determining its findings, the Board of Appeal shall take into account:

"….(2) the character and use of adjoining lots and those in the neighborhood; and

"(3) traffic conditions in the neighborhood."

And since over 80 percent of the 270 residential rental units in the proposed project at 15 Washington Street will be market rate and unaffordable to most current elderly residents of Allston-Brighton, other Boston communities and Brookline’s elderly residents, spending two years constructing a project that would gentrify, over-develop and “Manhattanize” the Washington Street-Corey Road Neighborhood urban renewal area, which was designated for elderly housing nearly 50 years ago, does not conform to policies established by the 1965/1975 General Plan for the City of Boston; and the proposed project does not create enough of an actual public benefit to merit a zoning variance allowing the building’s height to exceed 35 feet.

In addition, Kimco’s October 26, 2018 Project Notification form is recommending that, since “the intersection of Washington Street at Corey Road currently provides an exclusive pedestrian phase” (which helps elderly and disabled residents of the neighborhood more easily avoid being injured by turning traffic, etc.), “it may be helpful to change the intersection timing to eliminate the exclusive pedestrian phase;” presumably, to help reduce the level of Washington Street traffic gridlock that its proposed 15 Washington Street construction project will likely produce, while it is being built and after it is completed.

Unless an actual public benefit for people who live and shop in Brighton/Brookline’s Washington Street-Corey Road Neighborhood can be shown, the quality of life for residents of this Boston-Brookline neighborhood should not be disturbed. Yet if Kimco’s construction project is authorized to begin, for 2 years around 250 construction workers (50 percent of whom may not be residents of Boston) will be disturbing the quality of life for Brighton/Btooklinr neighborhood residents and Whole Foods shoppers each weekday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. (and sometimes even after 6 p.m.) in order to, gentrify, over-develop and “Manhattanize” Washington Street; with an 80 to 89-foot high apartment complex wall adjacent to a narrow section of Washington Street that lacks the same number of traffic lanes for cars and trucks possessed by either Brighton’s Commonwealth Avenue, Brookline’s Beacon Street or Upper West Side Manhattan’s Broadway boulevard.

In addition, if the New York-based Kimco’s proposed “ISEBY” [“In Somebody Else’s Back Yard”] construction project is approved, air quality impacts from fugitive dust may be expected during demolition, excavation and the early phases of construction; and the air quality impacts from fugitive dust may produce increased breathing difficulties for the elderly residents of Brighton/Brookline’s Washington Street-Corey Road Neighborhood urban renewal area.

One possible way to insure that new 21st-century residential apartment buildings constructed in the Washington Street-Corey Road urban renewal area both conform to the policies established by the 1965/1975 General Plan for the City of Boston (which prioritized the need to build housing for the elderly in this neighborhood) and also not exceed 35 feet in height, might be for the City of Boston to use its power of eminent domain to transfer control of the 15 Washington Street commercial use land site from Kimco to either the Allston-Brighton Community Development Corporation or a non-profit organization that prioritizes the construction of senior housing apartments; and only after the for-profit Kimco real estate deal-making firm is no longer in control of the 15 Washington Street land should any reconstruction of the Amazon-Whole Foods grocery store be initiated.

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