One of the more enjoyable aspects of being a part of WalkUP Roslindale has been in making connections to people who live and work in our neighborhood who are amazingly talented and incredibly generous. This has also been rewardingly true across this great city of ours. Case in point: This morning, I had the good fortune to have a little time to spend downtown at the temporary installation of an expanded sidewalk/pedestrian area on Franklin Street near Arch Street that will reportedly become permanent in the very near future. This will be a great improvement and provide a ready and (most importantly) local example for taking key locations of shockingly excess pavement and repurposing them for the enhanced street life that is begging only for a little encouragement to grow and blossom. (My loyal RTUF followers (all 3 of them!) will recall that I blogged over there about this very topic and location in early 2014.) The event also allowed me to connect with Erica Mattison, Dorchester resident and bike/walk advocate of the first order, and the Globe’s Dante Ramos. Dante’s piece is spot-on as usual: Pop-up plaza is a harbinger of streets to come (I hope).
And he even took the picture that Erica posted to her twitter account (your correspondent if on the far right of the photo). And, finally, my own photo taken near the start of the 3-hour installation period:
I would love suggestions in the comments on places in our own neighborhood where we think the city could productively repurpose excess pavement to better uses. Thanks!
What does your mind conjure when you hear the phrase “tiny house” or “micro-apartment”? As housing prices continue to climb in major cities, Boston has not been spared. Trying to achieve balance between creating enough housing while ensuring affordability is a difficult task, and one that no city has solved perfectly quite yet.
Here in Boston, the Mayor’s Housing Innovation Lab is seeking answers to those questions with their newly built Urban Housing Unit, or uhü (pronounced “yoo-hoo”) for short. The uhü is a 385 square foot prefab that is fully furnished. It will travel to neighborhoods throughout Boston for the remainder of this year to spark conversation amongst residents about the palatability of smaller space living.
The uhü just arrived in Roslindale at the upper lot of the MBTA commuter rail station on Conway St and installation will be complete tomorrow, August 16th.
WalkUP Roslindale supports creative solutions to our housing crisis, and believes smartly-designed increased density is an important ingredient to a vital, walkable neighborhood. We are happy to see the city start to think “outside the box” on ways to advance housing (or perhaps “inside the box” is more appropriate in this particular case), but we also believe that land use innovation must be linked with transportation innovation and investment lest efforts to build a sustainable, livable city fail or, worse, backfire. If we are going to accommodate micro-apartments like the uhü, it must be in parallel with a strong push for safer walking and biking infrastructure, as well as better transit options in Roslindale and throughout Boston. At this point, Boston’s modest experiments in the transportation realm lag progress in housing, and we’d like to see them catch up. A final critical element to smaller private spaces is richer, vibrant common spaces–including both open space/play space and a variety of walkable commercial/retail amenities.
This is a great opportunity to discuss what implications units like the uhü could have on our city. We encourage Roslindale residents to stop by and chat with team members from the Mayor’s Housing Innovation Lab to share thoughts.
Events will be held at the uhü on:
- Thurs, August 18th, 2016 from 5:00pm-8:00p for Family Night
- Saturday, August 20th, 2016 from 9:00aa-1:00pm during the Roslindale Farmers Market
- Thurs, August 25th, 2016 from 5:00pm-8:00pm for a community celebration
Spread the word!
UHU Flyer (PDF)
UHU Facebook Page
No pictures yet, but I went by early this morning and the full reconfiguration/restriping of the intersection at Washington and Blue Ledge is now done. I believe the remaining items to be installed at this point are median strip signs indicating the new crosswalk and the flashing pedestrian sign. Many thanks to BTD/PWD, our municipal elected officials (especially District 5 City Councilor Tim McCarthy, City Council President Michelle Wu, and City Councilor Sal LaMattina, who chairs the Committee on Parks, Recreation, and Transportation that held a hearing on the Vision Zero program in May), and Mayor Walsh for getting this done. We should also recognize the advocacy around Vision Zero Boston generally from WalkBoston, Livable Streets, Boston Cyclists Union, and MassBike, among others. Lots, lots more to do to improve everyone’s safety on our streets all around this great city.