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Developer shrinks proposed Readville residential complex; would replace some apartments with condos

New Sprague Street proposal

New Sprague Street rendering. Shorter building in rear, closer to the Sprague Street bridge.

Developer Jordan Warshaw has filed new plans for his proposed Sprague Street complex that call for fewer units and bedrooms - and the elimination of a proposed steel-frame tower reading "READVILLE" that was intended to bring attention to a neighborhood whose residents had loudly said they didn't want any.

In plans filed with the BPDA yesterday, Warshaw said he would reduce the number of residential units in the 6.6-acre, four-building project from 521 to 492 - and would lop two floors off what had been planned as an seven-story structure along - and down the hill from - Sprague Street. Another building, further away from the street, would remain at eight stories. All the buildings would sit on land just south of the Readville train station that is now occupied by such uses as warehousing and truck maintenance.

Also, one building, with 128 units, would be sold as condos, rather than rented as apartments, in response to neighborhood concerns about transient residents. And the new plans would increase the number of studio and one-bedroom units - which would mean fewer potential residents because that means fewer overall bedrooms.

Warshaw also proposed moving the restaurant he wants to incorporate into the complex closer to Sprague Street.

In his new filing, Warshaw says his goal is to build a complex that would attract carless Millennials who want to live in Boston, or empty nesters who want to stay in the city, but who can't afford neighborhoods such as the Seaport or Jamaica Plain:

With its pedestrian entrance directly adjacent to the Sprague Street Bridge to Readville Station, and large on-site shared workspace, oversized fitness center and other community spaces, this transit-oriented development has been designed at every step - from choice of location to orientation of access points to design of amenities - to attract non-vehicle oriented residents, and reduce its impact on surrounding area roadways.

The Project is an example of the kind of development Mayor Walsh's housing plan is targeting: a transit-oriented development with quality middle-class housing. Target rents are proposed to be meaningfully below those in many new developments in the Seaport District, South End, Fenway and even Jamaica Plain, but the Project will include amenities and open space at a level seen in few if any new Boston apartment developments.

One way Warshaw can reduce rents and create open space - 38% of the land would be open - is because of the land's topography - basically a slope from Sprague Street down to the Northeast Corridor train tracks. That will let him put most of the proposed 511 parking spaces at the bottom of the buildings without requiring expensive excavation - or surface lots that would take up much of the space not occupied by the buildings.

Warshaw has also proposed to rehabilitate Sprague Pond - long noted as a place to dump stuff, including, possibly, an old locomotive from the nearby rail yard - in part by creating a new pondside park.

The developer responded to criticism by the Boston Civic Design Commission that the proposed buildings were too industrial looking by adding some colored panels. Warshaw also moved the restaurant closer to Sprague Street on advice of the Commission, which foresees Sprague Street becoming more of a walkable street.

36-70 Sprague St. filing (70M PDF).

Not to be: Readville Tower, originally intended as a "Citgo Sign for Readville:"

No tower
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Comments

That the huge light up Readville sign is the coolest incentive of this proposal...

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Better if it said "Greetings from Readville."

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492 new transit-oriented homes is great (29 more would be better), but some elements of the plan are disappointing: a solitary restaurant is the only non-residential use, building 1 is setback far from Sprague St. like a suburban condo development, and it will include 500+ parking spaces.

Too much "green space" can also be inappropriate in the city, especially when there's a nearby park/playground, i.e., Iacono/Readville Playground. I'd rather see new residents head there than stay on their private reserve.

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I'm picturing walking across the bridge with a toddler ...

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Totally agree. If TOD is going to work well, residents should be able to do most of their daily needs without driving. The developer should include enough retail so that that is possible: a small grocery market, coffee shop, and drug store would be a good start.

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The closest grocery store to the site is a Stop & Shop that is a 1.4 mile walk...

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Which is, theoretically, not far from the site, has both a general store (OK, it's really just a convenience store) and a Dunk's (also a liquor store and a pizza place).

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You're welcome to put up the money - I'm sure the developer would be happy to take it and put in the retail space.

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Would I walk that far to the grocery store? Sure. But I also enjoy walking from the North End to the Back Bay Trader Joe's. I also know I can catch the green line back if I buy too much stuff.

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It's only 0.3 miles, which is at least the distance my little cousin regularly walks with her parents to the JFK/UMass and Savin Hill stations. Of course, every kid is different, but I don't think it's per se unreasonable.

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What is so good-looking about that? Cheap box.

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I can't believe they aren't building it out of brick, or better yet, maybe solid marble!

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A project like this is so badly needed in the southern part of the city. Glad to see it moving forward.

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Also, one building, with 128 units, would be sold as condos, rather than rented as apartments, in response to neighborhood concerns about transient residents.

Gross.

And the new plans would increase the number of studio and one-bedroom units - which would mean fewer potential residents because that means fewer overall bedrooms.

Isn't that going to contribute to "transient residents"? The city needs MORE 2 and 3 bedroom units if they want families to stay here. Single-family homes are out of this world expensive now.

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At one community meeting on this project at least some people refused to believe this would not devolve into a giant holding pen for degenerate drug users and/or Curry College students. All on Section 8, of course.

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This is a massive project. I have been at most meetings and heard a few people make wild forecasts but for the most part, people have legitimate concerns based on the impact a 500 unit development will have on a neighborhood of single families homes.

TBH I thought your headline alone was inaccurate. I think going from 512 units to 491, despite all of the neighborhood concerns and legitimate issues, is more like "tweaking" his proposal than "shrinking" it.

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I thought about that, a 5% reduction in total units isn't a lot, but it's coupled with a reduction of bedrooms, as well, by increasing the number of studios and one-bedrooms at the expense of the larger units.

As for neighborhood reaction, yes, perhaps that was a bit unfair, but some people did express those concerns at the meetings I attended (not all of them, but the very first one, at the Readville Neighborhood Watch meeting, and one at the collaborative center).

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Families don't stay because of schools, not housing costs.

Boston is seriously overbuilt with multi bedroom units - the demand is for 1 br/studio units because people over 35 get sick of roommates but can't find the smaller units. Then they team up to rent "family" units, driving up the price.

And none of this has to do with the costs of single family houses.

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This is the most accurate take on UHub in a while

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omg @ calling it "The Project" LOL
so accurate. This will inject 1000+ new residents into an area about the size of a an average primary school. The over crowding, traffic, and demand for services will strangle the area. RIP Readville.

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More residents living in the suburbs are the cause of all that extra traffic in Readville, not densely populated apartment buildings (of which very few have actually opened in recent years, so it's not even clear how they could be blamed for the increase in traffic).

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I still don’t see how the area can handle any more traffic. At just before 7:00 pm today the bridge was bumper to bumper, the entire stretch in both directions. It is typically backed up into Wolcott Sq starting around 3:00-3:30 and down the hill to the Amazon warehouse in the other direction. I don’t see how it’s realistic that people living there won’t have cars. It is NOT a walkable neighborhood (I know, I live there). Where are they grocery shopping? The roads can’t handle the traffic we have now.

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Sprague? More like, Sprawwwl.

lol

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This is about making sure there aren’t a lot of black people and black families and their kids who are the only family she would move to this part of the city at this time. Lots of black and Hispanic families have moved it out part of Hyde Park in the abutting part of Dedham over the past 15 years they’re older residents are simply trying to slow that trend down.

Why can’t we just admit that. -_-

Of course the city needs more three-bedroom units eight needs that for stability schools are the main reason families aren’t in Boston families would be in Boston if there were more three-bedroom units.

The older white residents said if here are going to be any new residents they ought to be white young and affluent.

The building was to edgy in its design and large for being 12 miles from one of the biggest economic engine of the world?

Stop with the nonsense.

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There are plenty of 3 bedroom units (because there are far fewer families living in Boston today than during our last population boom in the 1950s). The reason families are unable to find housing is that single people are living in those units with roommates. That's why we need more studios and 1 bedrooms: So that those people stop living in the family apartments.

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I think that although the developer's desire to get more housing in the area is laudable, there are serious issues with transportation in the area that could be made much worse by the project.

But out of curiosity, why wouldn't black people be able to live in this development? I mean, as you note, there are a lot of black people in Hyde Park. Why would this development be off limits to them, as opposed to any of the other housing units in the area?

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Does Readville need 492 units of housing ? Does Readville need an 8 story building and a number of 5 story buildings ?

Does Neponset Valley Parkway , a historic parkway in southern Boston, need more traffic ? Does the Father Hart bridge in Hyde Park need more traffic?

According to a large number of residents in Readville, this construction project will have a negative impact on the community ! Readville residents have voiced strong opposition to the proposed Sprague Street complex.

Why would anyone ,except the developer, want an 8 story building in Hyde park ?

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But the Boston area needs new housing.

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