BPDA tells developer this isn't Dallas and it's not going to approve a plan to blast the hell out of a hillside on the Roslindale/Hyde Park line for a 'garden apartment' complex
In a rare but detailed rejection, the BPDA on Friday said no to a Texas developer's plans to carve out a hillside along American Legion Highway next to the Stop&Shop/Walgreen's strip mall for a complex with 270 apartments in nine three-story buildings with 331 parking spaces.
The BPDA's "adequacy determination" that the proposed 990 American Legion project is not, in fact, adequate, does not mean the Lincoln Property Co. of Dallas can't develop the 14-acre Crane Ledge parcel it wants to buy from Jubilee Church of Mattapan but that it's going to have to radically reshape its proposal and provide far greater details on how its project will both meet city traffic, parking and public-transportation requirements than it's provided in the 18 months since it first filed its proposal.
The Urban Design department of the BPDA has made several attempts to steer this proponent toward a sustainable approach to architecture and landscape at 990 American Legion Highway and this proponent has been resistant to explore the majority of the proposals. ... We reiterate that this proposal is unsympathetic to this neighborhood in Hyde Park, to the existing landscape of Crane Ledge and to the spirit of residential, multi-family architecture in the city of Boston. ... The project's approach to site design is problematic in a multitude of ways. The site design proposes clear-cutting a largely forested site and replacing the existing urban wilds with a gated community. On an environmental scale, the design is exacerbating the urban heat island effect, increasing storm-water run-off, and reducing the urban canopy in a neighborhood that is an environmental justice area with largely communities of color. The community has already expressed a desire for some level of conservation on the site.
And even though Lincoln reduced the number of proposed parking spaces from 415 to 331, that's still more than the one-space-to-one-unit goal the BPDA now sets for new projects - which would mean more land being covered over by asphalt, the determination continues, adding:
The BPDA has previously requested that the proponent consider ways to decrease the environmental impact of this site through densification of parking, rather than a series of scattered surface parking areas. A parking garage that was more productive and could reduce the footprint of paved surfaces. The proponent states that the garden style housing typology and size of the Project Site warrants a parking layout that is convenient for the future residents. The argument is not consistent with city goals and not applicable in the City of Boston. The Project team should instead prioritize minimal environmental disturbance over minimizing the distance between residents' homes and their cars as is typical in a garden-style housing community. This is consistent with the City's priorities and the community's concerns for tree removal as reiterated at every juncture in this process.
The BPDA also provided examples for Lincoln of a number of hillside projects that work with the topography, rather than simply doing extensive blasting and tree removal. In fact, there's an existing winding, if crumbling road, from American Legion Highway to the top of the hill that provides an example to follow.
The undisturbed nature of this site at 990 American Legion Highway with an existing asphalt road that follows the contours of the land appears to offer some clues to a development scheme that would be harmonious with the context of this place. There are many precedents for the development of housing on steeply sloping sites. The nature of this site in particular, as it rises precipitously from American Legion Highway suggests a 3story / 2 story scheme which climbs up the hill offering parking beneath with living space sabove with all spaces flowing into the landscape.
Even aside from issues related to the destruction of much of the hillside in an "environmental justice" area, the BPDA determination is basically a series of examples of how the BPDA found the plans to date to be half-baked at best: A proposed connection to Ruskin Road would not meet city standards, transportation and bus assumptions are based on outdated figures and information, the plans fail to show where Lincoln would put city-required bicycle storage areas or how the public would get to use the ledge at the top of the hillside when Lincoln does not own that stretch of land.
As the first development project within a larger collection of undeveloped parcels, the proponent has a higher level of responsibility to design a street network that does not preclude future street connections through and to the site. Essentially, the project proposes one access point into a cul-de-sac development. The street network provides no other physical connections to its abutting neighborhoods. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles have only one option for getting into and out of the site. This significantly reduces permeability and connectivity through the site and to the existing neighborhoods.
To buttress the point, the BPDA included part of a transcript from an August meeting of the Boston Civic Design Commission on the Lincoln filings:
Andrea Leers: I wonder whether this is ready for us to be reviewing. It’s a project in a very particular topography and neighborhood, and we see no images whatsoever of the ground/topographic layout, what exists there now, the rationale of site sections, adjacent buildings... this is without context. It is premature for us to even be looking at this. We are looking at flat floor plans as if the site were flat. Most trees would be removed. We need to see the nature of what exists there now, and several options of how to occupy this land given the site. I do not think it’s useful at this point to comment on architecture at this point.
Complete determination of adequacy (19.4M PDF).
990 American Legion Highway filings.
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Just once I would like to see
Just once I would like to see another park space developed in Boston like the Boston Nature Center. Or work to finally start after all the zoom meetings on our precious gem Frankljn Park to make it safe and inviting for a place I can feel comfortable to escape. I've lived next to the park for over 25 years and never went over there because I was afraid.
From Franklin Park Coalition: "Thursday, February 9, 2023 at 6:30pm
Virtual: Register for the Zoom Meeting:
The final Action Plan draft was released in December with an announcement by Mayor Wu and our elected officials.
FPC has created a summary for easy access. Learn what's in store for the future of our park! A Summary of Recommendations by geographic location in the parkhttps://www.dropbox.com/s/pkk3ax642zf39bb/Action_Plan_Summary_Recommenda...
The full Franklin Park Action Plan:
The summary is in bullet form and easily perused. We hope it will help you see what's proposed for areas of the park you care most about. You'll also see whole-park recommendations and a To Do List for first year projects.
Please join us for the Action Plan discussion on February 9th! You'll learn more about what's in the plan and have an opportunity to weigh in."
You have been pinned down in your home, across the street from an Olmsted park for 25 years? You should have moved 23.5 years ago. That is a long time to stare out the window.
Afraid of what?
What are you afraid of in Franklin Park? Errant golf balls? Escaping lions?
Ron you don’t live in Boston.
Franklin Park while no war zone, is not what any would call a safe area.
True, I don't live in Boston
but I've nevertheless been to Franklin Park numerous times for zoo events, art installations, Caribbean carnivals, Elma Lewis Playhouse concerts, BAMSfest, the occasional symphony concert, or just to bike or cross-country ski around.
Who wrote this?
You went there!!! LOL
I actually LOLed.
I will never forget listening to her on the radio around 2013 and hearing her admit she had never taken the green line, despite living in Brookline for decades. I think it culminated in her riding it exactly once to get to tennis practice, then never again. Truly incredible commitment to being out of touch.
Enjoy the park!
For heaven's sake. I've been going to Franklin Park for 30 years. It's a treasure. It is not dangerous. Time to explore, Anon!
Maybe you should see a therapist for your agoraphobia?
If you aren't into that, perhaps a statistics and risk class?
At first I was afraid..
I was petrified ...
Go on now, go, walk out the door...
You will survive, hey, hey
Never thought I'd say this but
Thank you BPDA.
Good we do not need car centric suburban sprawl in the city of Boston. We should preserve the limited green spaces we have left and densify already developed areas near transit (which despite being near the geographic center of the city this is absolutely not). Hopefully this can be turned into a permanent green space.
I'm glad the BPDA cares about
I'm glad the BPDA cares about a well-connected street grid in all directions. Have other recent large developments done this, or are they giant dead ends that dump all their traffic out one entrance onto a main road?
will tell you that there’s no need for kitchen cabinets because it’s next to a Stop and Shop, nor do you need medicine cabinets because it’s next to a Walgreens.
If a developer actually built
If a developer actually built a place like this, you’d be free to choose one of the thousands of other units in the area that do have cabinets. It shouldn’t be anyone’s business but the builder of the property and the person living there what non-safety amenities are present.
Giant game of go fish
Why does Massachusetts do such a poor job of planning and zoning? It seems like our livability and affordability are governed by a game of Go Fish where developers "guess" what will fly and the constant refrain of NO NOT THAT reverberates through the extreme housing shortage in the region.
This project had flaws, certainly, but what CAN people build?
Perhaps the BPA and many town zoning/planning boards need to spend a week living rough to develop a different perspective?
Because it's full of smart people
Who think that being generally knowledgeable makes them an expert on everything.
Developers ignored tons of prior BPDA feedback
Read what Adam wrote. The BPDA gave very clear instructions and feedback to the developers who blithely ignored it.
I acknowledged that
But the problem is much bigger than this project.
Which is exactly the problem when everything is project by project.
Massachusetts needed state wide comprehensive land use and transit planning 50 years ago and desperately needs it now.
Can't imagine what the developers were thinking
Near a bus line, next to a supermarket, a pharmacy, and a highway.
Who do they think we are? A world class city?
Take it back to Dallas.
Maybe we're not so different after all. Just look at their City Hall, built 1978. Copycats!
In all seriousness, how about 345,000 gross square feet of development on 615,000 square feet of land is not the greatest land use, especially when most of the rest is parking. An FAR of 2.0, which would only use 25% of the 14 acres, would be more palatable, and I would wonder how undersubscribed the parking is in the strip mall next door, which could potentially do double duty as residential parking. Also, a lot of this wooded area was dirt/gravel just half a century ago.
But, yeah, this is a Dallas-shaped development. Complete with a clubhouse. Are they going to put gates up at the entrance with little guard towers? (To be fair, you can get a dated 2BR townhome in Dallas for $215,000, only catch: it's 15 miles from Dallas itself since Dallas encompasses more than the entire area within 128.)
Or since the Stop and Shop plaza is the same size, why not just build some housing on top of it. There is so much suburban sprawl in Boston but we mustn't disrupt the historic Stop and Shop. (And let's not get into the pearl clutching which happens in The Suburbs.)
o/t but if the T ever ran electric units on the Providence Line a new station at Cummins Highway would be a nice amenity since it's 3 miles between Hyde Park and Forest Hills with just the 32 bus to serve that.
There used to be a train stop in between
called Mount Hope.
My home station
One of the linked sources at that Wiki page is dead. The real estate company that was featuring it has either taken the document down or changed the link. It is here.
I authored this history that is now a part of Wikipedia for the developer of the condos at 229 Florence St. The lobby was originally planned to have a railroad motif in memory of the former station at this location that dated back to the late 1800s.
Mt Hope Station was active well into the 70s until the rail line was shut for the build out of the Southwest Corridor on which the trains now run from Boston to NYC. During the Blizzard of '78 I was able to get an Amtrak out of South Station that agreed to make local stops and I got off there to walk home the rest of the way, and in getting off the train I went into a snow drift up to my shoulders. I waded to the top of the stairs to reach Florence St.
The MBTA did offer a station replacement at Cummins Highway with a very limited service, but the build out which is well below grade would only access one track and be a nightmare to make ADA accessible. It would also have ended the Southwest Community Garden at Cummins and Rowe.
Mayor Menino brokered a plan for the garden to stay after the local community, via several in-person meetings with the MBTA, declined the station, which would have turned the Southwest Garden into a small unattended parking lot. Instead, the neighborhood stated they would take the bus to Forest Hills instead.
An additional station that was abandoned around WWII was at Metropolitan Ave and known as Clarendon Hills Station. There is now a pedestrian bridge at that location by Kelly Liquors.
Our family really wishes....
...that Clarendon Hills station still existed. ;-) (for purely selfish reasons)
I was just looking at locations for infill stations
I was just looking at locations for infill stations on the Rapid transit and commuter lines in the urban area and this spot jumped out as one of the clearest ones. There is a massive gap in the transit walk zone in this area that busses are never going to be able to truly fill and there is quite decent density (both in retail and housing) right around this location. I would really like to see a study on the feasibility of adding a station here though because I know the NEC is crowded (is it possible to add passing tracks?).
*Air Horn Noises*
And the BPDA lays down a sick burn!
Thank god. Boston does NOT need to be playing games with these midwestern-style sprawling fake culdesac developments. Other cities (except texas, where tract homes are the name of the game) are moving away from these because they're awful. Hyde Park deserves better.
Dallas is a boomtown with no income tax, growing by leaps and bounds.
Maybe imitate winners one time.
Have you been to Dallas? It's
Have you been to Dallas? It's a hellhole full of strip malls and gigantic highway interchanges.
They have many strip joints, which are sorely needed here.
maybe you should move there, Will, if you like this kinda stuff so much
Need Mom to tag along
I'm not moving further away from her again. She won't do Florida; I'd imagine Texas is an even quicker non-starter.
Your mom is smart
Know where the best place for older people is?
Know where one of the safest places for anyone is given impending climate change?
They are actively working on their housing situation, in their own Vermont way.
Maybe there's no place like home?
The joy will hit me again once it's May again , and I master time management.
I haven't been
But I'll take you at your word...none of which refutes my point.
Wasn't your point that we
Wasn't your point that we should imitate Dallas? Why would we want to imitate a place that's miserable to exist in?
Doesn't seem to be miserable
Their population is growing at a more than 1% clip each year. Boston's growth is less than 1%.
I'd rather live in Boston than in Dallas myself, but the masses, as they sometimes do, don't agree with me.
So Your Only Measurement of A Good City...
Is it has more people than other cities? Aren't you always whining on here about overpopulation?
Do you see me
Suggesting that people live in Beijing?
There's lines. I just don't draw them between Boston and Dallas.
Because basing a city solely on growth is reductive?
You're making my point. You did that with Dallas and Boston. You said it doesn't sound miserable because their growth is over 1%. Beijing is over 2%, so by your own logic, it's twice as good. There's hundreds of differences between Boston and Dallas.
My understanding is that
My understanding is that people move to Dallas because it's affordable, and it's affordable because they build lots of housing, and they build lots of housing because it's an inland city surrounded by open space with tons of undeveloped land everywhere. It's not about taxes or quality of life.
If Boston weren't hemmed in by the ocean on one side and 200-year-old wealthy suburbs on the others, maybe we could do all that stuff, too. Alas.
I lived in Dallas from 2009
I lived in Dallas from 2009-2012, right across I-75 from the hip/young condo area of West Village. This also meant I was a quick drive away from the art-tastic Deep Ellum and sandwiched between a few happening restaurant districts. Apparently my favorite BBQ place (Mama Faye's) closed and now there's a much more social-media-savvy joint a few blocks up that's thriving. The local music scene was pretty impressive, good diversity of styles and tons of accessible open mic nights.
The trolley in West Village is a fun and cool way to jaunt down the bars into downtown, and I had a friend who took DART to work everyday. He was often the butt of jokes from other locals, but he was a good dude and stuck to his DART. I had to drive for work and holy nuts the highways are rough. 35 was usually way worse than 75, but plenty of spillover results from either one having an accident.
I have no other thoughts on the matter, at the moment.
Is growth the goal?
Why is that a thing we should be pursuing?
Cities that aren’t growing
Cities that aren’t growing are dying.
shadows of your smile
NOW, if Lincoln Property Co. was proposing skyscrapers to cast shadows over Olmsted’s park, that would be a different STORY with the BPDA, the agency that with just four votes went against 3,000 signatures in opposition, approving the tax-exempt Simmons College cement city called Skanska Longwood. Not what you know=.