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Jamaica Pond Association Rejects 10-Story Apartment Building for 105A S. Huntington Ave.

The Jamaica Pond Association voted Monday night to oppose a developer's proposal for a 10-story apartment building at 105A S. Huntington Ave.

The Jamaica Pond Association voted Monday to oppose a 10-story apartment building at 105A S. Huntington Ave.

Cedar Valley Development has plans for 195 apartment units in the building, which would be among the tallest in the neighborhood.

"There's a lot of housing demand in Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill that this would satisfy," said Matthew Kiefer, a lawyer who represented the developers at the meeting.

The building would be called The Serenity, according to a full-page ad taken out in the most recent recent edition of the Jamaica Plain Gazette.

The Pond Association will draw up a detailed list of their concerns about the 205,000 square foot building. Some community members aired their worries at the meeting.

"It's just out of character for Jamaica Plain," said Andrew Hatcher. "You'd have to go all the way into Boston to find something like this."

A Pond Association board member spoke out against the rent prices — estimated at between $2,500 to $3,000 a month for a two-bedroom.

"Nobody I know can afford rents like that," said Rosemary Jones.

The building would have 26 units of affordable housing, according to Kiefer and project documents, which claim that number is 15 percent of the units. However, 26 units equals only 13 percent of the total units. To reach 15 percent, 30 units would have to be designated as affordable. The city of Boston requires these kinds of projects to have at least 13 percent affordable units.

And even if the project were 15 percent affordable, that figure would be below the 25 percent sought by the JP Neighborhood Council.

"I understand that's an aspiration," Kiefer said. "It's not something that can be done without a subsidy."

The apartment building would include a small amount of "service retail" aimed at providing basic necessities for the families living there, said David Chilinski, the project's architect.

Chilinski gave a presentation about the project to the dozen or so people who attended Monday's meeting at . He said the lower floors would have a brick facade to match neighboring apartments. The design would become more modern on upper floors. The building would have an interior courtyard. A parking garage would have 176 spaces, plus room for one bicycle per unit.

Not all residents spoke critically of the project.

Carlos Icaza, a longtime resident and business person, encouraged the Pond Association to consider the economic benefits of not only the 195 units in this proposal, but also the similar number eyed nearby at 161 S. Huntington. He said the influx of new residents would increase business at restaurants, dry cleaners and local schools.

Developers said they had considered building medical offices instead. The rental units will be aimed at professionals who work in the Longwood Medical area, said Anthony Nader of Cedar Valley, the development group building the project.

"There's a demand for quality housing," Nader said.

 

Do you have comments about this proposal?

The deadline to file them with the Boston Redevelopment Authority has been extended to Monday, Aug. 27, according to Kiefer. A detailed 287-page prospectus on the project is attached to this post as a PDF.

Comments may be mailed to:

John Fitzgerald
Boston Redevelopment Authority
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201-1007

Or emailed to him at John.Fitzgerald.BRA@cityofboston.gov.

[Editor's note: Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader, I've updated the section about how many affordable units are proposed. Also, I had linked to the wrong meeting. The previously listed Aug. 15 meeting is about the 161 S. Huntington Ave. project, not this one.]

RICHARD Heath August 08, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Richard Heath 42 Bourne St Jamaica Plain The JPA is absolutely right to reject this project. It is out of scale demographically and architecturally. Rents of $1000 to $3000 are WRONG in JP. And we fought and won against ten story buildings with the Cabot Estates thirty five years ago!! If you don't know history you;ll repeat it!
Chris Helms (Editor) August 08, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Thanks for the context, Richard. Everyone, here's a link to info on the Cabot Estates, the tallest of which are mid-rise buildings, not the proposed high rises: http://www.cabotestate.org/index.html
Cliff August 08, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Sounds like a 40B project that the state will ultimately force JP into accepting. All those pricey pads will be filled with Whole Foods shoppers.
RICHARD Heath August 08, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Thanks for posting this,Chris. I did not mean to confuse your readers. The Cabot estates was long ago and most of your readers were not here them But it was a huge fight which worked out very. It was originally proposed to be a duplicate of Jamaicaway towers ( built about 1968- or 1969). Cabot estates was the first park preservation battle in JP. i I must have be 1975 or earlier. Also a clarification on $1000 rent that is as I understand it a studio. VERY priceyAt 1000 per month you need to earn at least $24,000 AFTER Taxes to pay 50 % for rent. The rule of thumb is 30% for rent.
gretchen van ness August 08, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I, too, would rather not see a 10-story building on Huntington Ave., but I have to add that these are the rents we're already seeing in JP. Take a quick look at JP apartments advertised on Craig's List. There's a Huntington Ave. studio for $950/month, 2 BRs in the neighborhood for between $2000 and $3000, and lots of 3 and 4 BRs for over $3000. Let's work on a master plan for the Huntington Ave. corridor, but let's make sure we're using current information when we do!
Rich P August 08, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Here we go back to the socialist J P rants. We no longer have rent control because politicians realized that regulating profit not only eliminates the incentive for a developer to build here,(no building, fewer units = higher rents, VS more building, more units = competition leading to lower rents; econ 101) - but more importantly, politicians as well as 90% of the citizenry, wants property values to rise so that there are more taxes paid, that reduce taxes for other property owners while providing tax revenue for all kinds of public services. While I am not sure how many units, or what the right height is for this development, focusing on what a private developer charges for rent is irrelevant. As irrelevant as making a point of what a gas station, ice cream store, pizza place, plumber, lawyer etc charges for their products and services.
Rich P August 08, 2012 at 04:08 PM
RE: size and style; While I think height and total unit count are important, bringing into the dialogue a business person's profit is not only irrelevant, it will scare off that business person from even wanting to bring us better products and services. THAT all said, I do think the proposal is too massive and commercial looking. I would prefer a lower profile and a design that fits in better with the bowed fronts and Georgian or Edwardian styling of buildings near the site. I think neoclassical design with far better landscaping would be far more appealing and lead to far less divisiveness.
Delilah August 08, 2012 at 04:51 PM
It's to the benefit of Jamaica Plain that this new development is opposed. As a previous neighbor of the Nader's, I can attest that this proposal is all smoke and mirrors. 'Luxury' and 'Serenity' are not in this man's vocabulary. He is on the top 10 offenders list for cleanliness violations issued by the Inspectional Services Department (ISD). His tenants at 881-895 Huntington are largely students who are exceptionally loud and at times, disrespectful to their neighbors in closeby buildings. Walk the alley behind 895 Huntington Avenue to see the illegally parked cars and overflowing dumpster that he has placed on the easement. You do not want this mess in your neighborhood. Furthermore, you don't want these people in Jamaica Plain. While the proposal looks enticing, beware. The fact that he wants to gouge tenants for both rent and parking is a testament to his character. I lived in Mission Hill because of the reasonable real estate market. The pricing proposed for this development is not in line with the pricing in JP or Mission Hill. Do yourselves a favor and research the Nader's before you let them into your neighborhood.
Bob August 23, 2012 at 03:48 PM
You all do realize there is an uglier taller building located directly across the street from this site right? Also, I'm assuming the developer has analyzed the cost of building and unless the building is a specific density and height the rents are going to be substantially lower. This is what I assume the other posts are hoping for, lower rents and a smaller building, correct? Only, you do realize that will only promote more students to move into the area...which is your other complaint. Just for clarity, are you saying you want the developer to build a luxury building and price it below market but also restrict students from living there? Do realize unless the prices of these units are above a certain threshold it will be populated by students 100% because they are in huge supply in the area. The only way to bring in more professionals and families is to do a luxury building. This is downtown Boston not a suburb, if you want low prices and not be surrounded by students move out of the city. Please clarify exactly what you want for this site, as I'd be willing to lend an ear to any argument that makes logical sense. At this time though the developer doesn't seem to off in his proposal and from what I heard there is a lot of community support outside a few vocal naysayers.

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