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Should ZBA Approve 'Little Wanderers' Sale?

Do you want preservation or development in Jamaica Plain?

Yesterday’s Boston Globe column about developing in Jamaica Plain sparked an online discussion among residents who appear to go against the column's rationale.

Globe columnist Adrian Walker reported the historic Home for Little Wanderers has been in the process of packing up shop and moving to Walpole, bent on profiting from the sale of the rundown property on at 161 South Huntington St.

Walker writes the community is totally against the sale and eventual teardown, which would result in expensive rental apartments with a percentage designated affordable housing – between 30 and 40 units, according to the column.

However, members of the Facebook group “We Are All Whole Foods” disagree with the notion that JP residents are opposed to change.

The Boston Zoning Board of Appeal will determine whether to approve variances of the project a meeting today. 

The discussion evokes shades of the Whole Foods controversy, but is Jamaica Plain now in favor of development?

How do you want the ZBA to decide? Leave your opinion in the comments.

yannaro November 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Mr. Walker makes the same mistake as others in the media. Yes, it's the high price of the rents (and $3,000 isn't the highest), the # of affordables and, for some, the preservation of the 1914 building on the grounds. But it's also the sheer size of the project which overwhelms the site, the architecture which leaves much to be desired, the traffic, the lack of the city to consider this project in conjunction with the 105A project just down the road, traffic, etc. Enough? How about the future impact on all the row houses in that area on S. Huntington?Eventually there will be pressure to take those over and build more multi-unit structures. And the notion that the project was undeer review for a year is not true. There have been only a handful of public meetings. These two projects will bring a lot of tax money to the city.
Gretchen Grozier November 13, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I disagree with the sub-heading on this article. You can have BOTH preservation and development - and the JP/South Huntington corridor is ample proof. Look at that streetscape, which has a wealth of 19th/early 20th century builldings that have been preserved and expanded in the last decade. The Brewery Lofts, Hope Lodge, Mount Pleasant Home --- all are great examples. We need more housing in JP but we also need to respect our history and our unique character. Asking for both is NOT asking too much.
Scott November 13, 2012 at 02:20 PM
If you think the traffic and parking situation was bad now, just wait til there are another 500 cars in our neighborhood from the residents of this proposed development.
Maura November 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I think the sale of the property should be allowed so that Little Home can get on with the business of providing services. Something will be built on the site and it will be larger than some people want. Let that process be separate from the sale.
Bob from JP November 13, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Who's going to buy the building if they don't know that they can develop it as they wish (Within applicable zoning regulations, etc...)? Is there another developer lined up to buy the building and develop to the spec of the JPNC and company? Or is this just another Whole Foods where people would rather have the building sit idle and decay than the current option?
Jen November 13, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Bret, am I mistaken or are you sitting on a submitted article right now that provides a full compendium of opinions for and against the proposed development, that were expressed during the formal public review process? I know that you will have been plopped down here by AOL with a responsibility to attract the readership numbers that justify the ad sales that make the Patch business model viable for its investors. Is it your intent to do that primarily by stirring up antagonisms among the people who live here?
Maura November 13, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Jen, what is your objection exactly? The Patch has always been a pot stirrer. This article is no different but you should be used to that by now if you read the Patch regularly.
Liza Frise November 13, 2012 at 08:15 PM
what is the Home's burrent worth? $100 million? Huge endowment. seems like their committment is to increasing their assets as opposed to providing relevant services in the city where the need is greatest.
Jen November 14, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Maura, my objection is to manufacturing controversy that doesn't comport with the actual story. Using 1 Globe article plus comments and 1 Facebook page as sources strikes me as a weak effort level and a disservice to readers. The debate about the proposed development at 161 S. Huntington did not center around a conflict between pro- and anti-development sources -- people and organizations opposed the specific project for a diversity of specific reasons. So the piece mis-informs people about the specific issue. It also gives the odd and mis-informing impression that a formal public development process involving dozens of people and organizations, and a scattering of social media comments, are of similar import.
Rich P November 14, 2012 at 05:29 AM
Great post!

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