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Developers propose 230-unit apartment building they say will put the Arboretum back in Arboretum Road

Rendering of proposed Arboretum Road building

Rendering by Embarc. Gateway to the Arboretum on the right.

Two developers today filed plans for a six-story, 233-unit apartment building on Arboretum Road in Roslindale that will also include creation of a "gateway" to the Arnold Arboretum to replace what is now a litter-strewn underpass beneath the Needham Line train track.

In a filing with the BPDA, Boylston Properties and Velney Development say their proposed serpentine building around a couple of courtyards will have 133 parking spaces, most in a ground-floor garage, on a 2.3-acre site that now houses an old industrial building and a parking lot between Arboretum and Lochdale roads off Washington Street, about a half mile from the Forest Hills MBTA station.

Building lay-out and bird's eye view from near Forest Hills:

Serpentine layout

What the building would look like from the air near Forest Hills station

The courtyards and other open space - roughly 0.9 acres in total - will be planted with 100 new native trees, rain gardens and "pollinator corridors" - collections of plants designed to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

A plaza will provide both an entrance to the building and to the Arboretum and a proposed new path between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills on the other side of the train track, and will tie in with the Arboretum Road improvements the city has been making:

At the center of the Project's landscape design will be a new 5,000 SF publicly accessible entry plaza, which engages with the building's first floor uses and integrates with Harvard University's planned Arnold Arboretum Gateway as well as the City of Boston's proposed Arboretum Road streetscape improvements. Together, these improvements will create a more vibrant, welcoming, and safe neighborhood open space at the entrance to the Arboretum.

A combination of fixed seat walls and movable cafe-style furniture will provide users with flexible optionality to suit their preferences. The use of tactile, warm-toned, natural materials will be employed to reflect the pastoral nature of the Arboretum. Specimen plants and densely landscaped rain gardens will be focal elements within the plaza. ...

Site-wide, sustainable features of the landscape include a native-heavy plant palette that provides habitat, pollinator support and sustenance for endemic species. Rain gardens will provide bio-infiltration on site and permeable pavements will help to manage stormwater on site.

Most of the units will range from studios to two bedrooms; there were be four three-bedroom units. Some 38 units, or about 16% of the total, will be rented as affordable.

The building will have fitness and co-working centers, the developers say.

Two resident amenity courtyards are proposed on the second level of the building and will offer active and passive programming. The larger courtyard will look out onto the wooded slope of the Arboretum and will contain social-oriented elements such as outdoor grills, dining, and lounge areas. The smaller courtyard will look out over the shared use entry drive and will support the building's wellness and fitness programming.

18-22 Arboretum Rd. filings and meeting schedule.

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Comments

Looks good. When do they break ground?

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For suggesting that area should be torn down and turned into housing. Something about my white privilege and gentrification. blah..blah.. blah.

I grew up in the area no less, but whatever!

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I happen to like that underpass and so does wildlife. Human and not.

Hands off. .

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Housing > Underpasses.

Would I live there? Is it perfect? Is the delivery and grocery situation perfect? No, no and no. But build it. We. Need. Housing.

(Plenty of lots along Washington that could be developed into markets with housing on top, like that currently-useless Wellsmere Monuments lot. Has anyone else thought about how much space we give to dead people at the expense of living folks?)

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This development going up or not -- the underpass is staying, and getting a badly needed upgrade / renovation as part of the Roslindale Gateway Path Project

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… is actually space for living people and wildlife that tolerate those spaces.

It’s the space we relinquish to highly subsidized parking for the better off that are dead and killer zones.

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In which case they aggressively discourage use of their space by living people (looking at you, Forest Hills Cemetery!)

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Parks are a lot more useful for living people. Love running and taking my kids out, we go to the Arb but don’t do either in the massive cemeteries around Ros/Westie/JP. And yeah, paving over green space to park cars is a real waste too.

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We need the housing, but they could do much better with the aesthetics. That "gateway" looks like dead space in a suburban office park parking lot. We used to know how to build apartment buildings that fit in with Olmstedian parks. Why has that knowledge been lost?

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Maximization of profits. If you're buying borderline modular off the shelf crappy components that every other building going up in this country is buying, you can't build a beautiful building that fits into the context of the neighborhood.

We need the housing but goddamn I hate how ugly all these buildings are. Rozzie/Westie already has a good dozen hideous-80s-brick-squat-buildings that are discount housing now that their cut corners are obvious - but we're building the same thing now, just with a different aesthetic.

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This looks like a great addition overall -- it adds substantive amounts of housing in a transit heavy corridor that can absorb it easily -- but the lack of adequate space for delivery vehicles seems incongruent with the assumption that most households here won't own a car.

This is pretty much smack in the middle of no-man's land for retail -- the closest grocery is nearly a mile away at the Village Market. There's a dispensary, liquor store, two pizza places & a Dominican restaurant, but otherwise nothing is in walking distance, so you'd expect a heavy reliance on delivery for the majority of households.

There's a driveway with a cul-de-sac off Arboretum Road marked for resident loading + delivery, but the rendering makes it clear that there's no real space for someone to be double parked, and has a single visitor parking spot there. Right in this driveway area there's a green area as an "Amenity/Wellness Deck" -- a green/lawn space sounds great -- but it'll only have sun for a the first few hours of the day, at best making it to just before noon in the summer before the building's own shadow starts to take over, and they note that the southeast facing courtyards "under gusty northeasterly wind conditions in the spring and fall this courtyard may be uncomfortable for standing at times."

It sounds like a courtyard that's there to sound great on paper, but in practice isn't particularly hospitable or likely to be used -- sort of like the courtyards between the new apartment buildings at the corner of Washington & Arborway, that share similar conditions and never seem to be used. Why not use this space to create real loading zone space for commercial delivery, given that the implication of this is that there will be a heavy reliance on residential delivery here?

You might be able to get away with a barebones loading zone/delivery area in areas that have nearby retail, but in these sort of locations it seems like there needs to be more than a little driveway.

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Hope you attend the hearing, great post.

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Perhaps a bfresh (small-format Stop & Shop) or a Brothers Marketplace (small-format Roche Bros.)?

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I don't see how this stretch supports a successful grocer -- while there's residential density in a straight-line radius, the rail corridor separating Hyde Park Ave & Washington effectively makes them different universes, so you're really isolated to just selling to the households between Ukraine Way & Healey Field (next households north of there are on the opposite side of the Arborway; south of there, you're shopping in the Square or driving out towards Dedham).

While there's a lot of traffic passing through the neighborhood, it's exactly that -- pass through traffic, and there's not space to add parking that would make it an attractive stop (even if it did, it might not work -- Harvest had parking and failed, though the failure of Harvest seemed more complicated than location).

With some changes this might be viable, but it's going to require development to progress further, connecting the neighborhood better (imagine if Walk Hill Street went straight across Hyde Park Ave & the tracks, and connected to Washington where the lumber yard currently is), and transitioning the substantive amounts of light industrial zoning into residential and retail commercial uses.

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Target is closer than Village Market, and they have...well, they're Target groceries, but at least they exist. The pot shop used to be a tiny expensive grocery store, and the empty storefront across the street was too. Cibao Market is smaller and not as good as the two closed ones. (The now-pot shop was my go-to for emergency milk. And they never ran out of TP in the early pandemic.) As for who would shop at a bfresh...the Archdale complex is right there! Put in something that doesn't have predatory food desert pricing and they'll clean up.

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I take my groceries on bus/bike all the time. Lived in Boston 17 years without owning a car and I've never used a delivery service. Plenty of low income people (and high income who are thrifty and pollution/carbon conscious) live this way in cities. Peopl of all ages and abilities. Hopefully the developer and city will interview them.

Why this writer is so absorbed with delivery service is something to consider, perhaps they are in the industry.

Anyways loading zones are definitely needed for a building of this size. Just not loading dedicated to gig corporations.

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No industry affiliation -- I just don't see a probable scenario where bike or bus becomes a majority method here. It seems like this location is geared towards people who are commuting towards downtown, so there's no one-trip transit connection in that direction where it'd be attractive to carry substantive amounts. I'm sure some people will, but not enough to make the existing layout adequate.

Residential delivery obviously took a big boost in 2020 with in-store shopping COVID concerns, but even now that's passed it's continued to grow substantively -- I just think it's now well established enough that it's worth starting to build and plan for it, especially in cases like these where the neighborhood layout creates some unique conditions that make it especially more likely to be utilized.

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During those 17 years, did you have small children to feed? A family requires a lot of food, it’s hard to carry gallons of milk etc on a bike, or on the bus, in heat and rain and so on (especially if you’ve got to bring your baby with you. Or if you have a day job and can’t get to the market everyday.) older and infirm people aren’t so well able to schlep groceries either. For the young and strong (and especially single) people this isolation might be OK….but not for many others.

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That it’s hard to ride a bike while carrying groceries for a family (the gallons of milk alone would be too much), and not much better using the bus, especially if you have to take a baby along with you…or have a job which precludes daily grocery shopping….

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I have to disagree with your assessment of the audience for a grocery store/market in that area - I live on the Hyde Park Ave. side of the tracks and we would absolutely make use of a market there. The closest other market for us is Happy Market on South St., which is a 15 minute walk, or Village Market which is 25 minutes. But I can see this location from my living room, as can the hundreds of other people living in the condos and apartments on HPA. (I just wish Harvest Coop had been able to last long enough for all these new buildings to become occupied.)

On another note, I wonder how appealing this development is going to be, given the giant piles of dirt/gravel that are behind the car wash building. (Shown in the second image above.) Not much of a view in that direction, and there are heavy trucks coming and going from that site at all hours of the day and night.

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The Arboretum Gateway Path has been a joint venture of the City of Boston, WalkUP Roslindale, RVMS, Livable Streets, the Arboretum Conservancy, and the Arnold Arboretum. This building development will surely benefit from the new entrance planned at Arboretum Rd, but the ‘creation’ came from other sources.

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I suspect a smelly mine field to show up on the other side of the gateway. Hopefully the management stays on top of that. Your paradise is always someone else's convenient dog toilet.

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It's directly across Washington from 2, much smaller residential developments in the pipe-line.

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All of this is in a heavy commercial industrial zone with large trucks entering and leaving all day.

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