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Proposed Kneeland Street hotel now proposed Kneeland Street residential building due to Covid-19

A developer that wanted to replace a defunct Kneeland Street nightclub near South Station with a 230-room hotel asked the BPDA this week to let it build a 115-unit residential building instead, because it couldn't get financing for a hotel in the middle of a pandemic.

In a filing with the agency, the Hudson Group said the change would be minor, hardly worth worrying about, let alone requiring all new hearings, even with the complete shift in interior space above the ground floor, because the ultimate effect on the surrounding neighborhood would actually consist of even less traffic and more desperately needed housing.

The building will maintain the same height approved by the BPDA in 2018, but the company says it will manage to squeeze in an extra floor by removing building mechanical systems from the third floor and putting them on the roof. The developer said the building would mostly maintain the same exterior design approved in 2018 and would retain the gym and restaurant and meeting space originally planned for the building.

The company said it was forced to make the change "in light of the seismic shifts in the hospitality industry and the impact on capital markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."

In its filing, the Hudson Group said it first showed plans for the residential units to neighborhood groups and the BPDA in December. In January, however, it went before the Zoning Board of Appeal for a one-year extension to its approval, without mentioning the proposed shift from hotel space to residential units. It won the extension.

Instead of renting or selling units in the building as affordable, the company says it will work with a local non-profit group, the Chinese Economic Development Council to create 20 affordable units on Oxford Street aimed at people making between 30% and 50% of the Boston area median income. The company worked with the group on a similar effort with its Radian building.

As with the hotel, no on-site parking is planned:

The Project will provide long term off site parking through relationships with neighborhood parking facilities and incentivize the use of public transit, car sharing, cycling, and alternative modes of transport. With off-site parking, vehicle trips will be more dissipated throughout the local roadway network.

150 Kneeland St. notice of project change (1.1M PDF).

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The city needs more housing, not more hotel rooms.

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Voting closed 27

... tourist accommodation in Chinatown however ....

“ Instead of renting or selling units in the building as affordable, the company says it will work with a local non-profit group, the Chinese Economic Development Council to create 20 affordable units on Oxford Street aimed at people making between 30% and 50% of the Boston area median income. The company worked with the group on a similar effort with its Radian building.”

This is offensive and not even actually affordable for most of Chinatown’s low income residents currently being displaced by eviction for profit developers.

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Voting closed 25

The “for-profit developers” have bought the buildings and land they are developing from old Chinatown families. At very high prices.

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Voting closed 17

Do you have any hard numbers on people being evicted in Chinatown?

This trope keeps getting thrown around but no one actually has put out hard numbers. There are a lot of "we think people are being evicted". I have seen people evicted from housing but mostly because they don't pay their rent. In my world, you get evicted for not paying rent.

There is a lot, a real lot of affordable housing in Chinatown, a lot more than 25 years ago. Also, Chinatown is a lot bigger than it was 40 years ago.

There is a lot more housing overall in Chinatown to begin with but people are talking like there is some forced march of people being cleared out like some kind of ethnic cleansing.

We heard last year about the "eviction crisis" that would put thousands out in the street. Haven't seen it yet.

You can only cry wolf so many times before things are lost with hyperbole.

Also, don't forget, most of those "for profit developers" are buying houses on Tyler and Hudson Street which were sold to them, wait for it, by Chinese Americans who are cashing out on their investments. Check the deeds, not a lot of Murphy's, Cohen's, and Saltonstall's on the grantor lists there.

PS - 20 housing units are being created where there were none. 20 is more than none last time I checked.

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Voting closed 30

“ In my world...” says it all about you.

Don’t be disingenuous. Those houses sold are not being cashed in on by the tenants being evicted from them.

So called affordable housing is not affordable for working class and low income people.

I suppose you think it’s perfectly okay that these developers can just to shuffle anyone eligible for the affordable units that can even afford them off to another building altogether so the wealthy never have to share an elevator with them. Snob.

What Chinatown and Boston in general desperately need are genuinely affordable units for people who actually live and work here. Not investment and money laundering opportunities for the super rich from countries with shaky economies.

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Voting closed 27

Yes. I grew up in a 3 decker in Dorchester (70's and 80's Dorchester, not Doggie Spa $600,000 condo Polish Triangle Dorchester) with immigrant parents who came here with $3,000 of today's money.

I've lived in apartments with faulty heating systems and roaches. I didn't have my own bedroom for 18 years. My father died worth $5,000. I know I am settling his estate.

Go soak your head. You are the elitist self suffering arse fighting on behalf of people you would never live near because you might catch "working class".

Don't ever, ever call me a snob. I am a person who works his ass off to provide for my family. I always paid my rent on time and mortgage on time. Hard work pays off.

Go back to whatever nice leafy suburb your grew up in and self suffer for everyone else there.

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Voting closed 24

If you only knew....

But I don’t blab on and on about myself trying to convince people of my bona fides the way you do.

Snob.

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Only if you moved into a third floor walkup on Ping On Street and play future displaced person. Start a blog. We will be all thrilled by it.

Also, you can research all those people being displaced and give us hard numbers while you are there as opposed to the ones grabbed out of the air.

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Voting closed 14

Ok Hilaria.

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Voting closed 9

Chinatown is still very Asian. There really hasn’t been an exodus of Asian Americans from the area-at least not when I crunch the numbers from 1990-2018. There are actually a few more Asian than 40 years ago but a lot more white people. Seems fine to me.

And 30-50% AMI really is deeply affordable- we’re talking 25-41k for an individual and something . I’d like to think folks in Chinatown are making 25k if they’re working-maybe they’re not but I think you can find 20 people who are...

It’s 35-59k for a four person household

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Voting closed 6

PS - 20 housing units are being created where there were none. 20 is more than none last time I checked.

Have you even looked at Oxford St.? Other than the Verizon building at one end and some businesses at the other, it is very dense with housing. How many units will they need to destroy to find the space to build 20 new ones? What is the net gain? Any?

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Voting closed 14

A studio aimed at the 30-50% area median income level would rent for $445 to $785 based on BPDA's price limits. A 2-bedroom would rent for $586 to $1,039. The Mass. minimum wage of $12/hour works out to $2,080/month for full-time employment, and a rent of $445 is considered affordable for that income level. 30% AMI is $25,000 year.

You may not like the developers relegating the poors to another building which certainly won't boast all the fancy amenities, but it's also 20 units of affordable housing which won't get built otherwise.

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Voting closed 21

Rents vary at different developments. See comments below.

You also do not know that those units will not be built otherwise and how many will be destroyed to build them. It’s not a done deal. That why there is a process.

Please explain how families fit into studio apartments and why it’s okay that “poors”, who in Chinatown are generally Asian or other minorities and immigrant groups, will be discriminated against.

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Voting closed 9

Which means you've still got 35 days before you get nailed yourself to the cross and die for all of our sins.

Why don't you buy a plot of land, get approvals, build the building and then charge really low rents for your satisfaction? You win! They win!

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Voting closed 10

... got me imagining the elaborate self aggrandizing monument you’ve commissioned for your burial plot.

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Voting closed 8

Why take up land when self-important people like you can use the land to build housing for poor people instead of just complaining when other people do it?

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Voting closed 8

Should be a lovely spot for a dance hall.

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Voting closed 9

You'd rather have Tea Dance over more housing for the poor. You are not a dichotomy, you are a fool.

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Not much housing in the leather district last time I checked. That was many years ago though.

About this median income thing. Why can't developers just use real numbers. If I make 400 dollars a week can I live there?

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Voting closed 12

This made me curious about the current AMI. Apparently it’s $83,300 for a single person income. Thirty percent of that is a bit less than $28,000. If a person’s weekly income is $400, that makes his/her/their annual income a little less than $21,000. So the answer to your question is “No, you can’t live there.” That is, you can’t live there without some monetary assistance. My guess is a person would qualify for a Section 8 Voucher if his/her/their income is as low as less than $21,000 and that assistance would enable the person to be eligible for income restricted housing.

This is an on-going problem. The city continues adding income-restricted units to the supply of housing whenever luxury housing is built, but income restricted housing isn’t affordable for everyone. I don’t know how easy it is to get a Voucher to assist with rent payments these days. More low income/working poor qualified housing needs to be added to the supply.

For what it’s worth, I got the AMI figure from the BPDA website, so I will assume it’s up to date.

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Voting closed 17

12 years ago I made that much.
I'm asking for a raise on Monday.

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