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Apartments rejected next to Hibernian Hall

190 Dudley St. rendering

Nope.

A proposal to replace two small stores next to Hibernian Hall on Dudley Street in Nubian Square with a five-story apartment building lost at the Zoning Board of Appeal today.

The board actually voted 4-1 to approve the proposal, but state law requires at least five votes. Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo cast the opposing vote, after expressing concern about the lack of three-bedroom units in a neighborhood she said needs more family housing.

Mohammad Masud and Rina Akter, had proposed razing the one-story commercial buildings they bought in 2019 with a five-story building split between one- and two-bedroom units. The new building would also have had ground-floor retail space.

The board only had five members at the hearing, rather than its normal seven. The developer could have asked for a deferral because of this, but declined.

190 Dudley St. documents.

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Comments

roxbury has plenty of 3 bedrooms and not enough studios

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Voting closed 39

“I want to gentrify NOW!”

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Voting closed 20

Three 20-something earners will outpay any family for a 3 bedroom apartment. Thing is, they often don't want to still have roommates, but they can't find studios/1BRs.

For every 3 studios/1BRs you build, that frees up one more 3-bedroom for a family.

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Voting closed 53

Disband the zoning board.

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Voting closed 46

Great, so instead of 28 more places for people to live, we have 0. Well done.

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Voting closed 63

BDPA has already approved this, the city badly needs apartments, and ONE member of the board blocks it, because she can't figure out that not every household needs three bedrooms?

How the hell is blocking badly needed housing a family-friendly policy? Terrible decision.

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Voting closed 72

Magoo is planning to spend all winter in Hibernian Hall. Magoo might say that Magoo is going to hibernate in Hibernian Hall. Magoo.

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Voting closed 22

Before I comment anything, I want to admit that I don't know the needs of Nubian square and the surrounding area. I don't know what the mix of 1, 2, 3 room apartments is and I don't know what is needed.

I will assume that the area is in need of family housing for the sake of this comment.

If that is the case, this is good. This is one person standing up and making it clear that companies that try to provide housing that will only speed up gentrification will not be allowed to build there. There are finite opportunities to increase housing and if any option is accepted, builders will only choose to build high density, expensive housing that caters to wealthier people and hurts lower and middle income families.

Boston has a serious housing problem and needs more housing of all kinds, but that argument alone shouldn't mean that families should be pushed out when there are plenty of empty luxury apartments downtown. It sucks to lose these apartments, but if the builder is serious, they can come back with a proposal that includes family housing. And in the future, other companies can save time by just including that to begin with.

Of course, this might be all off base if there really is plenty of family housing and a need for smaller apartments. I suspect that is not the case but I really don't know.

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Voting closed 21

How is rejecting this keeping anyone's housing whereas approving it would make those families move?

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Voting closed 33

If these are nice 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, that attracts younger wealthier people (in general). That raises prices. That makes it harder for low and middle income families.

It won't directly force families out in the sense that it is only expanding the number of units, but if the only expansion of housing is 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and/or luxury apartments, it hurts families.

One of the many (many many) problems Boston housing is facing is high end investment housing downtown. That raises the cost of housing in Boston overall and makes it harder to find affordable housing even though it doesn't directly push someone out.

Another problem is that housing needs to grow with the population. If family housing isn't being added at a rate that matches the growth of the number of families trying to live in Boston, the net result is prices rising and making it harder to live in Boston.

I want to emphasize again that I do not know much about the specific market in and around Nubian square. I can't say for sure that voting against this was a good idea. However, it will have a negative effect on family housing in the area if there is a need for it.

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Voting closed 14

Growing up in Manhattan, I knew plenty of families living in 2 BR apartments. Some had only one child, some had two children of the same gender, some turned another room into a BR or put a divider in the BR to split it in two. My best friend grew up in a 1 BR apartment - her mother slept in the living room. And nowadays it's certainly not uncommon for there to be families with only one child, not to mention one parent and one child.

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Voting closed 31

This is totally true. In no way are these unit necessarily bad for families. As you point out, they could be very good for some families and depending on the size they might even work for most families.

My comment was mostly in response to comments that only blamed the one hold out when they very well may have had a good point: add some three bedroom apartments.

I don't have any knowledge about this particular proposal, so I'm not trying to say that it definitely was a bad proposal, but there is a long history of gentrification with very few voices speaking up against it. This might not be an example of that. Like you point out, adding a significant number of two bedrooms might have been a net good for families even if it would have been nice to have some larger options.

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Voting closed 9

Anything at all that gets constructed will be "nice". They don't build new condos which are going to rent for the same rate as some unit in a 3-family that hasn't seen a lick of serious maintenance in decades. And no developer is going to sell units at-cost with the exception of the required "affordable" units. Trades don't work for free and neither do developers.

There is no magic plan in which you can keep existing rents and create new supply of housing at those lower rates. The best the city can do is approve almost all housing proposals.

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Voting closed 24

Here's the thing: Nubian Square, as well as almost every other neighborhood of Boston, is full of houses that were built 100 years ago, when households were 2-3x larger than they are today. The vast majority of apartments in Boston are 2 bedrooms or more. The problem isn't a lack of family apartments, but instead that these apartments are mostly occupied by non-families (MAPC actually did a report on this: https://metrocommon.mapc.org/reports/10). There are basically two ways we could fix this problem: 1) Give vast amounts of government money to families so that they could outbid students and young professionals living together as roommates, or 2) Build lots of studio and 1 bedroom apartments so that those students and young professionals can live in them instead of with roommates. #1 would require tens of billions of dollars of new subsidies which we would have to raise taxes to pay for, so you can imagine how that would go. #2 Basically just requires us to stop preventing private developers from spending their own money to build studios and 1 bedrooms.

The question of whether building new market rate ("luxury") apartments raises rents in the surrounding neighborhoods has also been studied extensively and the answer is that there really is no strong indication that this happens. It's definitely better to build housing in "high resource" neighborhoods where jobs are located, but the harms of building in high-displacement neighborhood do not seem to be born out. https://escholarship.org/content/qt5d00z61m/qt5d00z61m.pdf?t=qoq2wr

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Voting closed 16

The number of empty units is not nearly as high as people make it out to be. The empty unit thing is also more of a plague among very expensive areas. Nobody is buying a Roxbury condo to show off to their friends no matter how hip it has become in Nubian Square. The same can be said of almost every part of the city except for the ones where parking spots got for 75 thousand.

If no housing existed there before how is it displacing people?

The city does need housing. Lots of housing. Families need places to live. If you build one bedroom and studio units then single people and couples will move in. If you do not they will move in anyway. They will move into three bedroom units with their friends. They can afford to pay one thousand or more per bedroom and if you turn that living room into a bedroom that could be four thousand dollars a month. They would gladly live in a small studio by themselves if they existed. They do not. So they move into the bigger units anyway.

These 28 units may have housed 40 or more people. Those people will find some place else to live. They will be fine. Welcome to San Francisco, this is how they dealt with the housing crisis. Not building does not lower rents.

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Voting closed 36

There is no guarantee that three bedroom apartments will be rented out to families. All over Boston there are three-deckers with large "family" apartments that are rented out to the singles who can pay more rent. Unless the builders agree to put some of the apartments out to a housing lottery, there is no guarantee that a three-bedroom unit will house a family.

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Voting closed 37

Most 3 bedroom in Boston are roommate situations. Not families.

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Voting closed 24

in Roxbury, or Eastie, or Dorchester, or Southie, or Charlestown, or Mission Hill, or Rozzie, or the South End (if we really want to go back a few decades)? Is it a bunch of new housing being built, or is it growing lack of affordability in neighborhoods which were already considered desirable? I think it's almost indisputably the latter. The new construction typically lags middle-income colonization of poorer neighborhoods.

Not building isn't going to prevent gentrification in Roxbury. Middle income people are still going to displace the poor because they can afford to pay more to rent or buy.

There's very little demand from families for three-or-more-bedroom apartments in Boston -- at least, at market rates (or at prices which can support the cost of new construction). This is because the public schools suck. If you're going to pay those prices to rent or own (not to mention property taxes if you own), you might as well live in Brookline or Arlington or Needham or Westwood or some other suburb where the schools are better.

Unfortunately, the families in Boston who need 3 BR apartments typically can't afford to pay the cost of new construction.

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Voting closed 20

seems like a great topic to bring up to the Mayoral candidates for their opinion.
Also, why so few ZBA members? How can the regs be written to allow one person veto power?

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Voting closed 27

The only reason it was effectively a veto was that only five of the required seven members were there.

I see 13 members here:

https://www.boston.gov/departments/inspectional-services/zoning-board-ap...

So a minimum of 7 of the 13 are required but then if only 5 show up, the hearing proceeds? What am I missing here? Seems like if there aren't 7 members, the hearing should be deferred.

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Voting closed 16

But should we be looking to those member of the Boston City Council who were blocking Walsh's appointments to the board. Sadly, those grandstanders are now running for mayor.

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Voting closed 14

Since the vote failed, does that mean it is denied? They can't come back?

Strikes me as an incredibly negative outcome. The ZBA seems to be increasingly capricious.

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Voting closed 15

Or submit an entirely and completely different proposal, but that would trigger the whole BPDA review/approval process, which could take, oh, a year.

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Voting closed 14

I agree that not everything that is proposed deserves to get built. But in this case it seems like the board is shooting itself in the foot by denying this very reasonable proposal because it's not "perfect".

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Voting closed 27

This type of density is exactly what we should be looking for, and it seems to have some good design--large windows, outdoor space (balconies, though I have not looked at the entire spec). Plus, the current owners will maintain these, or new businesses on the street.

Our commercial corridors in the neighborhoods have been sliced and diced--lots of folks living above/alongside our business (Main Street) districts should be prioritized.

But without a clear vision for development, everything before the ZBA can appear a one-off.

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Voting closed 11

Dear Chairwoman,

How many 3+ BR apartments in Roxbury are currently full of roommates who might move to studio, 1, and 2 BR apartments if they were available?

Sigh.

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Voting closed 37