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Building with 14 small apartments in Fields Corner wins approval

Architect's rendering

Archictect's rendering.

The Zoning Board of Appeal today approved plans by the owners of a Fields Corner cafe for a four-story building with 14 studio apartments no bigger than 280 square feet on Westville Street.

The BPDA board approved Vivian and Elisa Girard's proposal for 141 Westville St. in July under a pilot program aimed at increasing affordable housing in Boston by allowing smaller units than normally allowed under city zoning. At today's hearing, Vivian Girard said eight units would rent for $650 a month, the rest for $850 a month.

The Girards co-own home.stead cafe on Dorchester Avenue, and have said they were thinking of their workers when coming up with the idea for the building.

The building will also have a common area for residents, an outdoor patio and storage for 14 bicycles.

Two of the units, on the first floor, would be designed as handicap accessible. Board Chairwoman Christina Araujo questioned how a handicapped person who cannot ride a bike and needs a vehicle to get around could actually live in one of the units. A BPDA project manager acknowledged that was a good question, and worth further study, but said the issue had not come up during the agency's approval process, which included meeting with the city disability commission.

Project documents.




Many people who need accessible apartments use the T, Lift and Uber/Lyft/taxi to get around.

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If an owner is offering handicap accessible apartments, those need to be accessible for those who drive and, I believe, they also need to be accessible for a van for those of the many who do not drive, take the T or a Lift/Uber or a taxi.

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"If an owner is offering handicap accessible apartments, those need to be accessible for those who drive"

If no parking is provided for anyone, not they don't. But please let us know if you find some credible source that says otherwise -I mean this in a kind way, not as a angry response.

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You're whining in allcaps because someone brought up ADA for those who have physical mobility issues with regards to a new apartment building? Why is a person in a wheelchair who has a car customized so they can drive, something you are so enraged about? Again, you are not a city resident and you are a car owner as you have pointed out many times. Stop with the hypocrisy.

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The ADA is limited in scope to public accommodations and does not cover a property’s dwelling units. However, all areas of public accommodation on a property must be fully
accessible. A community room might fall under ADA compliance if it is made available to the public (e.g., used for town meetings or public events that involve non-residents and guests).

If parking spaces are available at common and public use amenities, is at least one space should be designated as accessible. Since is a percentage of public spaces. No public spaces = no required parking.


The Fair Housing Act affects both public and private housing for protected classes. It protects a broader class of individuals and addresses a broader scope of housing issues that include, but are not limited to, leasing and selling practices and zoning ordinances.

The FHA requires new multifamily housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common use areas,
doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable
access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. However, the landlord is not required to pay for the changes.

A minimum of two percent of the number of parking spaces serving covered dwelling units must be made accessible and they must be located on an accessible route; if different types of parking are offered, such as surface parking, garage, or covered spaces, a sufficient number of each type must be made accessible.

There are some exceptions to the FHA. The design and construction requirements only apply to “covered multifamily dwellings” designed and constructed “for first occupancy” after March 13, 1991, and the law exempts multifamily dwellings with fewer than four units, or multifamily townhouses unless they have an elevator.

But again, no parking? Two percent of zero is zero.



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I realize that every new development can't just assume that people will be able to park on the street, but if this streetview is at all accurate, it doesn't seem unreasonable that the two handicap-accessible units could park their cars/vans on the street.


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The project proposes making it a lease violation to even own a car, so I think that is the sticking point. Not where it is going to be parked.

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The problem is his proposal includes a stipulation that residents not be able to own cars... The reasoning is that density in itself is not an issue in many cases as much as parking for all the cars.

That being said I presume the solution, if it were an issue legally, would be to include an exemption for those two units if they have the proper HC designations. There is already precedent for this sort of thing in parking meters being free parking for HC drivers. They can also already park in times spots for as long as is needed. These things pop up with new ideas all the time, I'm sure a solution will come to fruition.

I used to work for an organization they were a member of and I couldn't think of two more generous caring entrepreneur types. Their passion is literally to make the world a better place and as a couple they are tackling things they know they can do.

It is almost unbelievable , in this market , to produce units for under 1k a month! That's even less than affordable housing units. If this is successful and catches on it could be the type of idea that helps alleviate the housing crisis. Sure the units are a bit small but think of all those people living three to four to an apartment. If they can be coaxed out of those units into these smaller units maybe we would see a rental price drop for two and three bedroom units that could then accommodate families instead of three unattached adults.

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If they have a car, they can also apply to have a handicapped space designated on the street by BTD as well. There is a woman who lives in the building next to me in the South End who has this.

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You don't get to dictate that though.

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The Project Documents link brings you to the development below this one, which over in the Fenway at 60 Kilmarnock. I tried to use the drop downs to select the Westville Street project and it didn't work. Maybe I'm just old.

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Sorry about that!

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how ugly it is.

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anon, insightful comments like your are always appreciated.

If you have some good leads for people to find housing for $650 to $850 a month in Boston (maybe you'd be willing to share your beautiful house?) please let us know; we know plenty of people who could use it badly and they will get back to you promptly! :)

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Developer is getting land that was taken from foreclosures by City of Boston and then designated as permanent open space to be managed by a non profit. Somehow this non profit is now selling land it got from city for free to select projects for a song.

Where is my free ticket to wealth ?

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Can you post the non profit and when it got the land? Thx.

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