UPDATE 4/18/17 2:30pm: we just received word that this meeting has been postponed. We’ll provide updated details on this blog as soon as we know the new date.
Developer Owen Kiernan has proposed a 42-unit, 5-story residential building at 43 Lochdale Road, a space that currently appears to be a semi-abandoned warehouse. This location is just off Washington Street, a short walk from the Forest Hills MBTA station. There will be a community meeting to discuss the project this Tuesday (tomorrow), April 18, 2017 at 6:30pm at the Roslindale Community Center at 6 Cummins Highway.
We believe that increasing the supply of housing near transit hubs is critical to better walkability as well as economic vitality in our neighborhood (and, indeed, across the Boston area). While we haven’t heard much about this project yet, the fact that the proposal provides for nearly 50 additional off-street parking spaces so close to the Orange Line is cause for concern–particularly since these proposals are very often a starting point where a developer expects to be “bargained down” on units and “bargained up” on off-street parking.
More “free” parking necessarily makes units less affordable, and also nearly guarantees increased traffic on already extremely congested Washington Street. It makes no economic sense for someone to buy (or rent) a unit with free off-street parking if they doesn’t own a car, since otherwise they are throwing away money on something they don’t need. Rather than usual scenario where a developer ends up surrendering on both scale and parking, we should be thinking of creative ways developers can contribute to mass and active transportation — these can range from design principles (e.g., convenient secure bicycle storage for residents), amenities such as a Hubway station and a ZipCar spot, as well as contributions to larger neighborhood infrastructure projects that will make it easier, faster, cheaper, and more enjoyable to get around without an individually-owned motor vehicle.
We’re certainly sensitive to neighborhood concerns about large new developments consuming currently available parking, but smarter management of existing supply is a more sustainable solution than building more and more to satisfy an essentially infinite appetite for this scarce resource. More generally, these development decisions shouldn’t be made in a vacuum — we need to have a larger integrated dialog about land-use and transportation that takes a long view. GoBoston 2030 is a decent start on this discussion, but those plans remain very much a work-in-progress that barely touches individual development proposals such as this one.
In any event, we’re interested in learning more about this new proposal, and hope to see you at the community meeting this Tuesday.