WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter on 874-878 South Street Residential Project

Architectural rendering of proposed 874-878 South Street development (right side)

Architectural rendering of proposed 874-878 South Street development (right side)

This week we sent a comment letter on a proposed residential project at 874-878 South Street, located at the “corner of South Street and South Street”–across from Green T Coffee Shop and adjacent the Hong Kong 888 Cafe, where South Street becomes Walter Street and turns into South Street. We’ve covered this development before in this space, going back at least as far as our first round of feedback back in July 2015, and the latest plans were circulated at an abutter meeting in March. We are typically aligned with “YIMBY” groups and inclined to support residential development, because density both promotes walkability and creates more desperately needing housing opportunities.

Our eagerness to support development is neither unlimited nor uncritical, however. In the case of this project, WalkUP is withholding support for the zoning relief requested by the developer based on a design that is sorely lacking. We are likely to get only one crack at each of these new buildings in our lifetimes, so it behooves us to get it right. We are hopeful that the developer will take our constructive criticism to heart and improve the proposed designed before its zoning appeal hearing, which is likely to be scheduled in October. We’ll post updates here as we get them, either on the design or the hearing date. In the meantime, our full comments are below and also available as the PDF letter as submitted to the Board of Appeal.

Continue reading

WalkUP Roslindale Comment Letter on 4281 Washington Street Residential Project

Brayton's Upholstery

Brayton’s Upholstery – Existing Structure – Image Courtesy Universal Hub

We recently sent an official comment letter on a proposed project that would replace Brayton’s Custom Upholstery at 4281 Washington St. with a four-story, 12-unit apartment building with 12 parking spaces on the first floor. The project was discussed in July on Universal Hub. Our comments relate mainly to the design of the project, which we found lacking. We’re hoping the developer will take these comments into account as he goes through the BPDA design review process, as the project has already received the necessary zoning relief. Continue reading for our thoughts, and feel free to add yours in the comments.

Continue reading

The YIMBY Movement and Walkability

YIMBY Logo (Courtesy Corporation for Supportive Housing)

YIMBY Logo (Courtesy Corporation for Supportive Housing)

The so-called “YIMBY” movement has been in the news a lot these days. Many YIMBY community groups, like JP YIMBY, start from a principle of supporting housing development in the interests of fairness, equity, sustainability, and economic vitality, and adopt walkability as an important component of that mission. We at WalkUP Roslindale start from the perspective of improving walkability–our core mission is to make Roslindale the most walkable neighborhood in Boston–and find that this goal more often than not coincides with YIMBY priorities and ideas. Greater density, when done right, is a critical prerequisite for a walkable neighborhood for a host of reasons. Moreover, YIMBY groups typically do not support car-centric and anti-pedestrian development because (among other reasons) they don’t achieve the goal of making housing available to all in need. We’re typically all on the same page.

Commonwealth Magazine‘s Podcast, aptly named The Codcast, recently ran an episode all about the YIMBY phenomenon, featuring two guests from JP Yimby, Eric Herot and Meg Wood. It’s definitely worth a listen to get perspective on the movement and how it connects to walkability–there’s even a shout-out to WalkUP Roslindale about halfway through the episode.

When we started WalkUP back in 2015, we were unaware so many other neighborhood groups with similar ideas were simultaneously forming or about to form, including the aforementioned JP YIMBY, as well as A Better Cambridge, Engine 6 (in Newton), Livable Newton, Newton Villages, and Somerville YIMBY (please chime in if we’ve forgotten any!). We now find we are in good company and happy to see this movement developing organically around the region.

Finally, this article from today’s Bay State Banner, Can Boston build a way out of the housing crisis? is worth reading as an in-depth survey of the current state of affairs with housing in Boston, and provides perspective from both supporters and critics of the current mayoral administration. Perhaps a preview of debates to come for the city elections this fall.

Roslindale Gateway Path & Blackwell Path Extension – Now combined and on the move!

Rozzie Gateway Path Entrance (image courtesy Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc.)

We last updated folks on the progress of the Roslindale Gateway Path when we, along with our partners LivableStreets Alliance, the Arnold Arboretum, and Roslindale Village Main Street, released the conceptual design study back in April of this year. Since then, we have discussed more seamlessly weaving together and unifying the RGP with the Blackwell Path Extension that the Arboretum Park Conservancy has been promoting on roughly the same timeframe. Those discussions resulted in a joint meeting with city officials in June 2017 to put the combined project squarely on their radar and just a few days ago the decision by the Solomon Foundation to provide $29,000 in funding to advance the combined project to 25% design. The Arnold Arboretum will be facilitating this work with Solomon and the design consultants at Horsley Witten Group and we look forward to releasing and publicly discussing this design when it is released later this year. So, special thanks to Solomon and the Arboretum for keeping the momentum up on this effort!

Stonybrook Neighborhood Slow Streets – Pre-Construction Open House – August 25 – 6 to 8 pm @ Curtis Hall (20 South St., JP)

It’s been a long time that this particular set of changes has been in the works. But it sounds like Stonybrook’s Neighborhood Slow Streets improvements will go in next month. Pre-construction meeting to be hosted by BTD/PWD scheduled for Friday, August 25 at 6-8 pm at Curtis Hall in JP (20 South Street).

It will be really good to have slow street improvements actually put on the ground in this city so we can all go see what they’re like and share with our neighbors.

Hubway Expansion meeting for Roslindale scheduled – September 20 @ 6 pm – Menino BCYF (Archdale/Brookway)

Hubwaylogo2014.pngGreat news–the Hubway citywide bike-sharing program is considering expanding to Roslindale! See the full schedule and how BTD will be rolling this out. A community meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 20, 2017, at 6 PM at the Boston Center for Youth and Families Menino Center, at 125 Brookway Road (just off Washington Street near the South Street intersection).

Bring your ideas about where Hubway should be located in our neighborhood come next spring.

WalkUP Roslindale Support Letter for 44 Lochdale Road Project

Roslindale Self Storage Improvements Rendering

Roslindale Self Storage Improvements Rendering

Last week, we sent a letter to the Boston Board of Appeal in support of a proposed expansion of a self-service storage facility at 44 Lochdale Road (just off Washington Street near Forest Hills). The full letter is reproduced below. Although we typically focus on housing and retail that will improve street-level vitality and walkability, off-site storage also has its place in vibrant urban neighborhoods, particularly as density increases and some folks chose to live in smaller units and thus need some overflow space. We also see the proposal as a substantial improvement over current conditions; for these reasons, we sent the letter below.

Having received our letter and encountering no opposition (at least at the hearing), the Board of Appeal approved the requested zoning variations on July 25, 2017.

Continue reading

Neighborhood Slow Streets Announcement Made! And Rozzie has a winner!!

We last discussed the NSS program under Vision Zero back at the end of March, when 47 applications, 4 of them from our beloved patch of soil, were submitted. At that time, we thought only 2 areas in the city would be selected. In the interim, the city found additional money for 3 more areas, so yesterday…drum roll…BTD announced 5 selected areas, one of which is the Mount Hope/Canterbury area in the eastern section of Roslindale. Congratulations to the champions of that effort, including WalkUP Roslindale’s own Lisa Beatman and Rick Yoder! You can find the city’s official announcement here, and a Boston Globe article from today here. We are excited by this opportunity to improve street safety and slow traffic in our neighborhood and look forward to working with Lisa, Rick, their neighbors in MH/C, and BTD staff to get this done as soon as humanly possible.

As we have said many times at this blog and elsewhere, everyone in this city deserves to live on a safe street. Everyone on every street in every neighborhood.