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Playing the gentrification game in Uphams Corner

Gentrification Game in Uphams Corner

Greg Cook reports on educator and video star Tory Bullock and the Gentrification Game installation he set up for today and tomorrow between 4 and 7 p.m. at Dudley Neighbors, 572 Columbia Road:

One neighborhood is home to a liquor store while the other has a wine emporium. One side has a check cashing business and a torn-down theater, while the other has “an actual bank” and a pristine theater. Bullock asks, “Can you survive in my fictional transitional neighborhood?”

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Bring it on!!!

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Voting closed 41

Where do you entirely missed the point there Sparky

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Voting closed 16

Uphams isn't ready to take on more demand. And it doesn't help when Dukakis and his Dukakis Bros spew out billion dollar electrification and EMU plans for Uphams Corners. If you think gentrification is bad now, just imagine if a new billion dollar subway line magically appeared on Dudley.

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Voting closed 15

New housing, regardless of price point, does not increase the cost of existing housing. Limiting the building of new housing does just that, however. Too many people do not understand that.

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Voting closed 49

Upscale NIMBYs in wealthier areas (especially in the suburbs) are so effective at preventing development via snob zoning etc, that a disproportionate share of new construction ends up getting concentrated in these "transitional" neighborhoods.

Yes, we need more supply, but I don't blame residents for being bitter about it.

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Voting closed 26

Let's ask why the NIMBYs are so effective and/or so fired up.

It's because of 40B. That's why all the empty land out in the suburbs is being bought up by towns and being declared conservation land with no-build covenants in the deeds. It is being done deliberately to remove opportunities for a developer to swoop in and ignore minimum lot size requirements by building density under 40B.

People move to the suburbs because they like suburbs, and they don't want the city to follow them. That's why I moved to the suburbs and why I bought in an area that was already developed with single-family homes and not near a big open piece of land that was likely to turn into a shopping plaza or an apartment complex any time soon.

Repeal 40B and the amount of land available to build housing units in the 2k-4k/month range in the form of single-family homes on 1/4- 1 acre lots will increase, thereby relieving the pressure to build rental units going for 2-4k or condos selling for 750k+ in these neighborhoods.

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Voting closed 21

In part because anything built for the lower end of the market tends to not bring in as much in property taxes as it adds to the town's costs, particularly for education. It's really tough to get approvals for lower-end housing with more than two bedrooms due to the high costs of educating multiple children.

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Voting closed 15

Right now, nothing is being built at all, with the following consequences
1. The supply of what's there is limited, driving up prices across the board
2. Low-end homes built in the 60s are being bought up by developers and converted into McMansions, reducing supply in the middle
3. Towns are fighting 40B projects tooth-and-nail by
3a. Buying up land reducing potential supply across the board
3b. Issuing bonds and going into debt doing so, thereby
3b.i. Diverting funds from schools, and roads, thereby driving up the "we can't afford the influx in our schools and the traffic on our roads" angle
3b.ii. Driving up taxes to pay for the bonds (remember folks: it always costs more to borrow money that you don't have than to spend money that you've saved up), increasing the cost of living in those towns and pushing people of some means by an objective measure to compete for housing stock in lower-rent areas, thereby driving up costs there.

If 40B were completely repealed, then yes: the building in the suburbs would not magically invisible-hand itself into low-cost tract housing, but what would happen is that there would be more construction in the mid-range for each town that would not be opposed as strongly as 1000 unit apartments with 200 set aside for low-income housing. Instead it might be 50 or 100 mid-range homes (still in the 700+ range, or more depending on which town) here and there, but their occupants would pay enough taxes to blunt any "schools" arguments, and those same occupants would be out of the running 3k/month apartments in Brighton.

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Voting closed 20

It does do that. As new housing brings wealthier residents to the neighborhood [and businesses that cater to them] the neighborhood becomes viewed as upscaling by real estate agents. The agents then start the inevitable price creep upwards for the remaining older housing stock, as the neighborhood is now considered more desirable. Pretty soon the price of the older units is nearly as high as the new construction. But for certain amenities the new construction can perhaps claim, such as a gym or deeded parking, the old housing would nearly equal the cost of the new construction.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't build new housing. But it means you need stringent price controls on the sale or rental prices of that new housing to prevent the neighborhood from gentrifying out the original residents.

Now the developers will complain that those controls would mean they could not make money on the new construction. That the high cost of construction in the area combined with price controls would mean no new buildings would be built. But that is hardly accurate. It just means their profit margin, which will still verily exist, would be narrower. So instead of making say $5,000,000 after cost on a new building, they might only make $2,000,000. Boo hoo.

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Voting closed 25

Price controls will only make the situation worse by limiting any new construction. We already are far below the construction of new housing we need as is. Real estate agents can list a home at whatever price they want but it won't sell unless there's a demand to meet it. Having an ample supply of homes on the market provides buyers other options and hangs that greedy agent out to dry with a listing s/he can't move unless the price drops.

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Voting closed 41

To be fair, it's usually the seller with the unrealistic price. An agent has no desire to hang onto listing overpriced by $50k when it is just about $800 extra in commission, if and when it sells. An agent rather sell two units for $100k less in the same time it takes to not sell one for $50k too much.

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Why is it greedy to get paid for your job? Are you working for as little profit as possible? Have you ever turned down a bonus or a raise? Agents are mostly commission based, so why is it greedy?

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Voting closed 17

price controls are obviously necessary, but whatever people would rather just ignore what the obvious truth is.

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The "obvious truth" is that if you rent in an inexpensive neighborhood that gentrifies, then you're out of luck.

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Take a look at the development budgets being proposed by the various community development corporations (non-profits!) and you'll see that in reality, it costs a lot of money to get new construction built in Boston -- at least $300-500K/unit. Unsubsidized rents at that cost level would likely start at $2,000-2,500/month when you consider the cost of financing the construction, taxes, maintenance, heating/water, etc. -- and we're not talking about providing "luxury" amenities, either. All the hoops we make developers jump through -- like Inclusionary Development Program set-asides or payments, kickbacks to neighborhood groups, ridiculous ZBA processes, etc. raise costs even further.

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Voting closed 19

If you lowered parking requirements for new construction to 1 per unit [or less] instead of 1 per bedroom you would really bring the cost down. All that parking means double the land needed to build, or having to dedicate 1 or more floors of construction to parking. Yes, in much of this city you do still need a car, particularly those areas most ripe for more development like West Roxbury, Hyde Park, or Readville. This is due to poor transit in much of those areas, the continued proliferation of suburban office parks those people might need to work in, and the lack of walkable grocery stores and the like. But a 2 bedroom unit does not need 2 parking spaces. Those 2+ people living together should probably be related, but even roommates can carpool.

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Voting closed 9

This is not what is happening in Boston, that gentrification is outdated. there is no gentrification in Boston, you have $3000 apartments in a city where everybody drives out of core ( except south end) for services. The once exclusive private schools in Suburbs have buses that pick city children up. No local schools to build community like other expensive cities, no amenities for families like other expensive cities, not safe, unlike other expensive cities. The new housing is to support high tech and some Hospital jobs, Boston losing middle fast, not losing poverty, crime or the wealthy.

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Voting closed 7

particularly Jeffries Point, and get back to us.

actually, I'll save you the trip: you're wrong. there's a whole load of new units, but people in existing housing are still being priced out as their rents go up, and many outright removed because buildings are being purchased, emptied, gutted and renovated in order to take advantage of the higher-scale rental market that has been invented by realtors in the area.

too many people do not understand that.

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Some new units DOES NOT MEAN ENOUGH NEW UNITS!

Why are NIMBIOTS so bad at basic economics and mathematics?

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NIMBYs be like: we tried building a handful of new homes in one neighborhood and prices still increased, building homes doesn't work!

No matter how many cranes you see today, we are not building nearly enough homes in nearly enough neighborhoods in nearly enough communities. Boston can't do it alone, but so can't East Boston.

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Voting closed 29

This is a regional problem. Building new homes in one small segment of one neighborhood alone isn’t going to put a dent in anything. In reality, this requires state action to loosen snob zoning even more than city action.

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It will also take a substantial expansion of the public transit system.

If you could take a train to Leominster reliably and quickly with several runs per day, would you consider moving there? How about other places in Central and even Western and Southern MA?

I know a family that sold their basement 750 square foot 2 br. condo in Medford and bought a 5 bedroom 3 bath 2200 square foot home in Leominster near the train for the same amount of money.

Homes in Worcester start out below $100K and take weeks to sell.

It isn't just further out spaces that could benefit - rapid transit to places like Lynn and Salem and Dedham and along the line where DMUs were promised, and places like Wilmington and Wakefield would benefit a lot of people.

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Voting closed 25

What’s wrong with gentrification? Adam, don’t you live in a gentrified community?

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Roslindale as a whole may be turning into JP South, but we live in one of the parts that is distinctly not gentrified - the house and lots are too small for luxury construction, for one thing.

Worst case, gentrification means destruction of communities, some of which have been in existence for generations.

In Boston, we're now also seeing the creation of units bought by investors, some of which just stay empty most of the time, others of which are rented, at steep rates, by people with no intention of sticking around. Neither of which are good for the long time survival of communities

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Voting closed 28

Vacant condo units in high-end buildings downtown owned by investors are a big win for the city: more tax revenue with almost no effect on city services or schools. Not to mention linkage money and funding for affordable housing. Those high-end buildings have no impact on rents or housing costs in a place like Roslindale.

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Voting closed 20

My neighborhood was destroyed by redlining in the 70's, nobody that grew up on my block still lives there, nobody. Bosto is a real estate game, always has been always will be. I grewup near Uphams Corner, remember going there with my mother, my friends had birthday parties at Brighams, the world changes. To be America is to be a slave to capitalism.

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Voting closed 4

I like his work. It’s generally thought provoking. In Uphans Corner in particular it would also be relevant to discuss what policies and plans have resulted in a massive concentration of poverty in parts of the city and how those decisions effectively paved the way for the displacement that comes with gentrification (which I think is what people object to).

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Voting closed 17

Who did it in Uphams Corner?

All I saw what a white working and lower middle class in Uphams Corner be replaced by a Latino, African American, and African Caribbean working and lower middle class over the past 50 years.

The Dublin House went from being a workingman's Irish immigrant bar to a workingman's Dominican immigrant bar. That's about it. People moved.

Can you point to the source of the grand all knowing all powerful cabal that made this transformation? I'd love to know.

There actually isn't a lot of housing projects in that immediate area. There are some subsidized units, but mostly it is small investor and owner occupied buildings.

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Voting closed 22

Redlining?
Concentration of investor landlords accepting Section 8 vouchers?

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Dudley St and Quincy St are literally lined with gov't built subsidized housing.

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As late as 1980, the area around Uphams Corner was mostly white people.

There have been several books written on redlining in Boston, yet it amazes me how people throw the phrase around to discuss any place black people live in Boston (and some places they have never been known to live.)

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Voting closed 14

I won’t dicker over where the actual FHA red lines were as I don’t know if Uphams Corner was “in or out” however I can tell you from having lived there that in the 1980s, much less the late 1980s, Uphams Corner was not mostly white people. More to the point, it was by that time a place from which people who had the means (regardless of their race or ethnicity) were leaving as disinvestment took hold. As for policies that have concentrated poverty in Uphams Corner and North Dorchester more generally I have many thoughts, but the amount of low income housing concentrated there by CDCs with the support of the City and disproportionate to the rest of the city, and the lack of public investment in the area until the past 10 years or so are a couple that come to mind.

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Voting closed 9

A very white family whose youngest grew up with me lived up by St. Paul’s Church, on Magnolia Street, in the 1970s. They were told by some of their new neighbors, in no uncertain terms, to move. They moved to the other side of Uphams Corner. As far as disinvestment, ask an old time Roslindale native what the Square (excuse me, the “Village”) was like in the 70s and 80s.

I can’t wait until people claim that Hyde Park was redlined as part of BBURG. I have that much faith that people have so little an understanding of history.

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Voting closed 7

Change happens all the time, and gentrification has been happening in Boston since at least the 1980s.

But Bullock didn't know or didn't care until it affected his "community." He could have done the same things in Perkins Square 10 or 20 years ago and ponder what was going to happen to those who live in Southie who rent and therefore do not have the economic standing to withstand the changes. It's happening in Eastie now, as another commenter noted. Roslindale and Hyde Park are full of people gentrified out of Jamaica Plain, and I worry every day about the future of Roslindale's lower middle class.

It sucks to see people pushed out of places they call home. But methinks Bullock is being a bit myopic on the topic.

But bringing things back to Uphams Corner. Somehow, after decades of going by it, I just noticed this past week that the building on the corner of Dudley Street and Columbia Road on the northerly side was built as an S.S. Pierce store. I'd say there have been some changes there over the years.

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Voting closed 18

So you're criticizing him for not speaking out about housing issues before he was in middle school? He's talking about his neighborhood because that's where HE lives, it doesn't invalidate what he has to say just because another neighborhood somewhere else in time and space also struggled with similar issues.

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Voting closed 10

He’s missing the overall context. He makes it sound like this is a new thing. 10 years ago he was in college. Why didn’t he care about it then?

Perhaps if he worked on ways to keep the neighborhood stable, it would be more positive, but being a teacher, I’d hope he has the research skills to answer the questions he asks.

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Voting closed 16

One of the strongest protections that Dorchester and Roxbury are going to have against gentrification is the continuing widespread fear of common Black folks by upper middle-class whites. Apologies is this sounds crass, but its the hard truth.

Boston's gentrification is being manifested largely through the housing market. The upper middle-class white buyers that are driving this market will readily move in on and gentrify working class neighborhoods of other whites (ie Charlestown, South Boston), and will spread into the fringes of working class Latino neighborhoods (ie East Boston, JP, East Somerville). But for almost all, proximity to working class Blacks is a non-starter.

Redlining and legalized discrimination have been almost totally outlawed since the 1970's. And the general population's attitudes around issues of race have evolved a great deal. But as far as white folks wanting to actually live near, and among, Black folks - the needle has hardly moved since the 1970's.

Though Mr. Bullock critiques the cultural divides, the fact that most white folks (regardless of their political pronouncements) really don't want to be surrounded by Black neighbors, may be the ultimate salvation for the neighborhoods he is most concerned about.

Sorry, but this is the hard truth.

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No. That's not true. You're right that integration of those communities is slow. But that is not because of the demographics bit rather because of high crime or large volume of subsidized housing.

A perfect example is a historically African American community in West Medford. It had low crime and now has drastically changed.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2013/02/10/west-medford-historicall...

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Who is this awesome guy? Just seeing him here for the first time and checking out his work. What a star.

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