For second time in three months, BPDA rejects plans to carve up a hillside on the Roslindale/Hyde Park line for a Texas-style apartment complex
Most developers don't need to be told twice, but the BPDA has yet again rejected a proposal by a Dallas firm to construct a nine-building, 270-unit apartment complex on what is now a heavily wooded hillside on American Legion Highway next to the Stop & Shop strip mall.
"This project, as submitted continues to be insensitive to this landscape and this neighborhood," the BPDA, which rarely sees a development it doesn't like, writes in its most recent "adequacy determination" of plans by the Lincoln Property Co. of Dallas for the 14-acre Crane Ledge site.
While the Proponent has acknowledged each comment received throughout the Article 80 review process [the BPDA's process for reviewing large projects] to date, the Proponent has failed to adequately address the substance of the comments. Indeed, despite the detailed substantive concerns raised by the BPDA throughout the Article 80 process, and most recently communicated in the Adequacy Determination issued by the BPDA on February 3, 2023, the Proposed Project remains largely unchanged from what was originally proposed.
As it did in May, the BPDA provided extensive notes on everything that's wrong with Lincoln's plans, but this time in even more detail, since the agency all but says Lincoln didn't seem to be listening the first time around: The BPDA is not going to approve such a large project that destroys much of the existing hillside, with just one main entrance and without pedestrian access to the adjacent shopping area, that its proposal for replacing all the trees that would be chopped down is completely inadequate, that the 331 proposed parking spaces are just too many, and that its conclusions that the project will mean minimal impact on the area are based on what the dynamited hill would look like after the project is completed, not what it is like now.
Also, the plans are simply too vague in many areas for the BPDA to fully vet them, let alone be submitted to the Boston Transportation and Public Works departments for even finer-grained reviews.
The BPDA adds that proposed large retaining walls - one possibly 40 feet high - "would be unnecessary if this proponent would explore the possibility of working with the existing topography and not blasting and filling the site to obtain a largely level ground plan to accept the building typology that they consistently provide regardless of a continual request to explore a building typology and layout of architecture that responds to the existing topography."
The BPDA continues it is concerned about the one concession Lincoln proposed for residents - to create a "lookout bluff" at the top of the hill - because it depends on the Jubilee Church of Mattapan, which currently owns the land and would retain 10 more acres on the hill, giving its OK for its development:
The provided narrative describes working with Jubilee Church to provide public access, but stays silent on what would happen if those discussions failed. If Jubilee Church is not amenable to providing this access, does that eliminate both the "Nature Trail" as well as the"Lookout Bluff" at Cranes Ledge? What would be proposed as an alternative?
The lack of detail of a possible fall-back plan should the church say no is just one of numerous areas in which Lincoln's plans are too vague for approval, the agency says.
Despite the assertion that 8.16 acres of 'usable open space' is being generated by this project, only 1.07 acres have been accounted for as publicly-accessible, and therefore, we can only assume that the unaccounted quantity, 6.78 acres, may not be fully accessible, usable, or public. Until we have a better accounting of the types of open space that the project will make available to the residents of this proposed project, we have no way to understand if local, publicly-owned spaces will need to serve as a substitute for missing and needed open space amenities.
But wait, there's more. The BPDA asked for a "stamped site survey" that includes a census of all the trees currently on the site. Lincoln submitted something but, the BPDA says, "the plan is unreadable, the information is not provided in a manner that can be adequately evaluated." Oh, and another set of requested plans, to show the relationship between the current topography of the hill and surrounding residences, "demonstrate a relatively flat plan at the center of site that does not correspond to the existing topography of the site."
The criticism just continues: One plan shows some units with bedrooms that back up against retaining walls, which effectively means they are bedrooms without windows, which are against code in Boston.
And even aside from everything else, the proposed design is simply "monotonous and placeless architecture," the BPDA writes.
The agency did have a couple of positive comments. It appreciated Lincoln being receptive to repainting the stripes that delineate an existing bicycle path along American Legion Highway and to installing a Bluebike station. Also, the company's plans for providing bike storage for residents appeared adequate.
990 American Legion Highway filings, includes the most recent "adequacy determination" that the project is not, in fact, adequate.
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I doubt this project will happen
In the current interest rate environment.
There's a project that can be
There's a project that can be done well there but this is certainly not it.
It somehow approved another project that was opposed by quite literally everyone, very interesting to say the least.
Your description could apply to so many projects approved by the BPDA.
I was torn about this. We
I was torn about this. We need housing. Yes, it was wrong but we need housing.