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Old 10-21-2016, 10:24 AM   #1
tysmith95
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Under Construction The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthor...b-b216de61bda8



PNF filed for 252 apartments and 5,500 sf of retail. The project will include 3 wood framed buildings. 130 parking spaces will be provided (great for a location this far from downtown). This will replace surface parking lots currently on the site.








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Old 10-21-2016, 10:55 AM   #2
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

Nice. Those lots become a big eyesore with the overpass torn down, as it's now an unbroken slab of daylighted asphalt moonscape framing both NE side of the Arborway intersection (bus yard + courthouse lot) and SE side (station/muni pay lot). Really makes a big atmospheric difference to plug that space up to the corner.
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Old 10-21-2016, 11:53 AM   #3
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

God save me but...

I wish they went taller here. That seems like an awfully big lot for only 252 units. Especially so close to a major transit hub.
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Old 10-21-2016, 12:58 PM   #4
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

^
I like your new screen name Odura!

In all seriousness I think the developer couldn't justify putting a steel (more expensive) framed building in this location. I don't believe there are many wood framed buildings more than 5 or 6 stories tall. Also if there was a 15 story building proposed here the NIMBY's of this area might revolt. I think this proposal fits in well with the neighborhood.
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Old 10-21-2016, 01:18 PM   #5
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

The program and site plan look reasonable, but that Miami Vice/faux pomo 1990s facade is really unpleasant. ICON usually does better work than this!

Nice to see they're proposing a 1:1 ratio of covered bike parking to housing units and a "bicycle work room" for residents on the Arborway side of the building. The new Arborway bike paths will be a great amenity.
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Old 10-21-2016, 01:23 PM   #6
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

I agree with all that. Just wish there was a way to cram more units onto that lot. Alas.
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Old 10-23-2016, 06:02 PM   #7
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

Quote:
Originally Posted by tysmith95 View Post
^
I like your new screen name Odura!

In all seriousness I think the developer couldn't justify putting a steel (more expensive) framed building in this location. I don't believe there are many wood framed buildings more than 5 or 6 stories tall. Also if there was a 15 story building proposed here the NIMBY's of this area might revolt. I think this proposal fits in well with the neighborhood.
Concrete base + 7 floors wood = 8 total.
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Old 10-23-2016, 06:07 PM   #8
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

As a nearby resident, I'm most concerned by the lack of setback along the under-construction Casey Arborway pedestrian and bike paths adjacent to Building B's northern edge. Casey landscape architects have designed a surface "dry riverbed" feature running northeast from that corner to echo the long-buried Stony Brook, and the Residence renderings are making it look as if they're including nice project borders with flowered beds when in fact those are hard won public greenspace features they're throwing shade on. Grrr....
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Old 10-23-2016, 07:14 PM   #9
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

Pretty much agree with Clayville, we both fought for a better Casey.
Buildings B and C set a bad precedent for anything along the Arborway/Jamaica Way/Riverway by allowing the building to be built to the lot line. A far better approach would be to hold both of these buildings off far enough, say 25'-30' to allow a grassed area with mature trees between the Arborway sidewalks and the building facade. The developer should understand that these buildings are fronting a park, not an urban street and would be happy to see building B pushed up to meet the Washington Street property line. Also, no retail in Building C (noted as a bike shop) along the park, it's not done anywhere else on the Arborway, J-way, or Riverway so please no retail along it.
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Old 10-23-2016, 09:36 PM   #10
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

My wish for this site would be for a developer to get control over not just this site but over the entire row of single-story retail along Washington down to Tower Street. Do these new buildings first, shift the existing retail into the new retail space, demolish the single-story retail buildings, replace them with six-story buildings of apartments over retail. If any existing retail tenants really hate being shifted up to Arborway (they might), shift them back to their original spot after completion of the second phase. That way not just these parking lots go vertical but also the single-story stuff along Washington.

I'm not sure what to say to Clayville's and Randomgear's comments, I'm not familiar enough with the community input context to form an opinion. But their suggestions, if implemented, could fit into my dream project.

As for elemenoh's faux pomo slur, I sort of agree insofar as those square protrusions / indentations, they look kitschy for kitschyness' sake. Having said that, these buildings at least have a visual base, middle, and crown. I like a lot of modern architectural detailing, but really dislike the way so many modern buildings have no crown to speak of, they just go monotonously up the facade and then - erp! - the building is done now! Always looks like the architect just quit. I like the top of these; the base, less so. But they come off looking like the architects put in a full effort instead of just quitting on it.

I share statler's desire for more units, hence my fantasy on getting units above the existing retail. If we could convert all the parking and single sort retail in similar such neighborhood centers throughout the metro region (not just Boston), that would be boatloads of units, we wouldn't mind so much that perhaps more could have gone in here. (I know, I beat this horse a lot. At least it's a different horse than the TALL horse.)
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Old 10-23-2016, 09:59 PM   #11
odurandina
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

Quote:
Originally Posted by statler View Post
God save me but...

I wish they went taller here. That seems like an awfully big lot for only 252 units. Especially so close to a major transit hub.

2x More density yesterday + the odd 18, 20, 25, and 35 story crowns.

Jaysuss.
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Old 10-23-2016, 10:14 PM   #12
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

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I share statler's desire for more units, hence my fantasy on getting units above the existing retail. )
Here, here!
But I'm OK with letting the area build up a bit more slowly. Definitely need the single story retail to be turned into multi-story with residential above, the problem is that some of those single story buildings have rather beloved restaurants in them and demolishing them all to build anew would be brutal to the neighborhood. Better to build over them one or two at a time and make a somewhat more eclectic streetscape than all at once. If my count is correct, by the time this project and Parcel U get built up, there should be about 900-1000 new housing units within a 1/4 of this site. I think that market forces will have people trying to build over (ala Redd's in Rozzie) or rebuild these buildings in just a few short years.
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Old 10-24-2016, 07:49 AM   #13
West
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

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Here, here!
But I'm OK with letting the area build up a bit more slowly. Definitely need the single story retail to be turned into multi-story with residential above, the problem is that some of those single story buildings have rather beloved restaurants in them and demolishing them all to build anew would be brutal to the neighborhood. Better to build over them one or two at a time and make a somewhat more eclectic streetscape than all at once. If my count is correct, by the time this project and Parcel U get built up, there should be about 900-1000 new housing units within a 1/4 of this site. I think that market forces will have people trying to build over (ala Redd's in Rozzie) or rebuild these buildings in just a few short years.

I completely agree that the disruption to well-established restaurants and other businesses is a major downside to the general concept of building above. And I am very sympathetic to your preference to see this happen here piecemeal over time, so as to ease the impact on community change.

However, I suspect there's a better chance of this working out for existing businesses if it got done as I'm proposing. This particular location is potentially ideal, given the ratio of new space to old.

The existing businesses would have a year at least to advertise the upcoming move to their clientele, the new space would be completely fitted out, then they move. If done well, there would be only very minimal suspension of service, perhaps none for certain kinds of businesses (most would experience some down time).

Contrast that with trying to build above the retail or restaurant one building at a time while it's in place: for a year the disruption is not only above, but inevitably to the entrance as well. Talk to any sidewalk-oriented business owner who has even gone through major façade work and they'll tell you that no matter how many "open during construction" banners you hang, some portion of business vanishes. Even much beloved restaurants are often running on such tight margins that the really loyal patrons aren't sufficient to tide them over. Or if they do make it through the construction, they suffer for it.

On top of that is the nature of many of those singe story retail buildings. I don't think I've been in those particular buildings, but all the ones I've been in elsewhere, the structures themselves are just crap. You go in Newton Center, there's clothing stores where the prices will rock you back on your heels, and while the interior finishes are very nice, you go around back and look at the building itself and they look like "God help the retail workers if any delivery truck ever taps this back wall even just a tad." Most of these could never support four or five stories, a lot couldn't even support one.

So if those sites are going to go up, the existing building in most cases will need to come down (of course there'll be exceptions). The concept of phasing existing businesses into new adjacent structures is the only way I see to ameliorate the impact on businesses while getting the job done.

I'd go further and say I'd like to see municipalities try to stretch the definition of Community Preservation Act to allow some CPA dollars to go to the mitigation of relocation impact. Use the leverage with developers of this sort of scale to not toss money at a park or whatever, but to commit firmly to accepting existing businesses into their newly created space. The CPA $ would go partly to help the business make the move and incur whatever losses can't be avoided, and partly to cover the gap of keeping at existing leases for ___ years (five, maybe), as compared to the per foot lease rate they get on their new space. After all, at this location, if phased in as I propose, there'd be about a doubling of retail space. The developer could lease at fair market rents the half not taken by relocating businesses.

Lot of hurdles here. I'm monologueing here to run ideas past people with the thought of perhaps seeing if some capital could get mobilized down this particular path. There are tsunamis of capital coming in to multi-family mixed-use, and as we've seen in this area, that capital is increasingly open to new ideas. So anyone wants to punch holes in my concept, I'm all ears (well, ok, eyes, but you know what I mean).
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Old 10-25-2016, 09:15 AM   #14
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

West -- a much better approach is needed than the traditional subsidies

Government already mucks about too much in things its Knows-Knot -- we don't need a subsidy program for beloved restaurants and curio shoppes


If you are going to have zoning restrictions -- then you can offer some relief for a developer who builds on an open lot or one devoted to showcasing "class b" used cars -- there are plenty of these to go around

After all those kind of places have been built upon we can go back and see if there are other targets of opportunity for more intensive use of well placed sites
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Old 10-25-2016, 09:34 AM   #15
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

Site context & ground floor plans:



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Old 10-25-2016, 11:20 AM   #16
West
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

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West -- a much better approach is needed than the traditional subsidies

Government already mucks about too much in things its Knows-Knot -- we don't need a subsidy program for beloved restaurants and curio shoppes


If you are going to have zoning restrictions -- then you can offer some relief for a developer who builds on an open lot or one devoted to showcasing "class b" used cars -- there are plenty of these to go around

After all those kind of places have been built upon we can go back and see if there are other targets of opportunity for more intensive use of well placed sites
Whigh,

Your response would be so much more useful if you actually responded to my post instead of just quoting it, ignoring it, and leaping directly to the political points you want to make.

Absolutely nothing in my proposed idea was even faintly similar to a “traditional subsidy.” In no way did I suggest that some particular business ought to be put on the dole for the sake of helping some business just randomly, or because they’re needy, or whatever. I made very clear that the assistance I was suggesting would be time-limited, and entirely focused on bridging the financial impact of a relocation, a relocation that would come under unique circumstances. That’s about as far away from a Section 8 type or TANF type subsidy (or any other “traditional subsidy”) as I can think of.

Then, after dismissing something that I hadn’t proposed as being an example of bad governance, you suggest offering “relief for a developer who builds on an open lot” etc. Why the hell should government offer any developer relief for building on an open lot, or one that was nearly open (the used car lot example)? You veered from dismissing the idea of government assisting some businesses in a situation where they might need assistance, to suggesting government assistance to developers where they manifestly don’t need it. So are you favoring government helping business or denouncing it?

I’m suggesting trying to deploy short-term government assistance to leverage the financial momentum of the development of an underutilized lot – a development that if left alone would be a very good thing and not need government help – and boost it into a two-fer, in which double the additional housing units get created. My goal would be to accomplish this without either throwing existing businesses under the bus or penalizing the original development opportunity. I don’t know if it would work. But it is not in any way shape or form a proposal for a traditional subsidy.

You quoted my post and addressed your response to me, but you spoke to the demons in your head. You speak to the demons in your head so often here at aB that I don’t need that input back from you. I could write your posts in my sleep, if I were reckless enough to mix a bunch of vodka and pseudoephedrine before bed.

I was hoping you (or whoever) might talk to whatever demons / pitfalls / flaws are in my idea, since, unlike you, I don’t think I have all the answers.
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Old 10-28-2016, 01:59 PM   #17
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

Though color-coded pink (as is the genuine ground floor retail of Building A), the ground floor "Bike Shop" proposed directly adjacent to the Arborway in Building B (the northeast corner) is described as a "bicycle work room for residents" in the PNF.

Other than the River Road industrial block in Brookline (with its proposed new Hotel), there is no other building along the entire Emerald Necklace that I'm aware of that is built to the full lot line without any setback/buffer from the parkway at all as Building B proposes to do. That concerns me greatly.

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Old 10-28-2016, 03:54 PM   #18
West
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

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Other than the River Road industrial block in Brookline (with its proposed new Hotel), there is no other building along the entire Emerald Necklace that I'm aware of that is built to the full lot line without any setback/buffer from the parkway at all as Building B proposes to do. That concerns me greatly.
From my very imperfect sense of the Arborway, I'm going to assume that numerous local residents share your concern on the setback issue.

It's too bad there's that gigantic easement running north/south through the site between Bldg C and the other two bldgs. If that weren't there, they could pull C and B back a bit to address your concern on setback, but then infill that gap to keep the density and number of units very similar for us who'd like to see a good amount of infill here (but are opining from afar rather than living with it up close).

When I zoom the survey page of the PNF, I think I'm seeing an easement for storm drainage and sewer; if so, that's not going to get built on. The only other idea I see is to pull back C and B from the Arborway, shift the density to the top of A, in the midsection where it'd be most removed from streets.
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Old 10-29-2016, 07:19 AM   #19
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

I'm pretty sure the easement through the center running north-south is the result of the Stony Brook culvert that has run underground there since the late 19th century. The Brook supplied water to the numerous breweries and other industrial activities to the north approximately along Amory and Tremont Streets during the mid-19th century. But it also caused lots flooding in the Fens as it dumped into the Muddy River. So... it was buried and "controlled" underground.

The landscape design of the under-construction Casey Arborway gives a nod to this history by creating a surface "dry riverbed" feature that runs from the southern corner of Washington at the Arborway northeast across the medians towards the Bus Yard on the northern side (from Building A in this plan). You can barely make it out in fig.1-3 as a pale "river" under the trees in the site plan above (all but the RoFH project footprint is the actual Casey landscaping plan).

The RoFH plan seems to highlight that history too (or perhaps just make an omelette of the eggs/restrictions) with that meandering path through the project.

To me, that's all good design given the conditions and the history. But the lack of setback on the Arborway verge diminishes the coming park experience for peds and bikes, recreational users - which is the point of the 560 trees and tens of thousands of shrubs, groundcovers and bulbs coming to the Arborway here.
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Old 10-29-2016, 09:04 AM   #20
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Re: The Residences at Forest Hills | 3694 Washington Street | Jamaica Plain

Quote:
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Whigh,

Your response would be so much more useful if you actually responded to my post instead of just quoting it, ignoring it, and leaping directly to the political points you want to make.
West -- OK

I'll give you a point by point response:

[quote]Absolutely nothing in my proposed idea was even faintly similar to a “traditional subsidy.” In no way did I suggest that some particular business ought to be put on the dole for the sake of helping some business just randomly, or because they’re needy, or whatever. I made very clear that the assistance I was suggesting would be time-limited, and entirely focused on bridging the financial impact of a relocation, a relocation that would come under unique circumstances. That’s about as far away from a Section 8 type or TANF type subsidy (or any other “traditional subsidy”) as I can think of.[/quote

OK -- perhaps the term traditional was inappropriate -- but the point you emphasized was a financial "bridge" provided by government. The fundamental problem is that you are taking money from taxpayers and providing it to others for some purpose which is not of universal value such a police or fire protection.

Quote:
Then, after dismissing something that I hadn’t proposed as being an example of bad governance, you suggest offering “relief for a developer who builds on an open lot” etc. Why the hell should government offer any developer relief for building on an open lot, or one that was nearly open (the used car lot example)? You veered from dismissing the idea of government assisting some businesses in a situation where they might need assistance, to suggesting government assistance to developers where they manifestly don’t need it. So are you favoring government helping business or denouncing it?
The kind of relief I was proposing was zoning relief. Say a particular area had been zoned for single family residential -- if the city [based on some referendum?] decided to pursue more intensive development -- then as opposed to a MacMansion teardown of an existing single family house -- the developer of an open lot could be offered the opportunity to build a small complex with some limited height. Similarly in a district with a lot of one story retail, building on an open lot [say after a fire] or on a lot used for open storage of things [such as used cars] would get you the opportunity to go to 3 or 5 stories.

My model does two things -- it helps get rid of the open lots which encourage crime and deterioration in a neighborhood, and by building slightly more densely the city gets increased tax revenue. In-turn the developer for taking the risk gets more revenue if they keep the property, or they can realize more value if they sell it.

Quote:
I’m suggesting trying to deploy short-term government assistance to leverage the financial momentum of the development of an underutilized lot – a development that if left alone would be a very good thing and not need government help – and boost it into a two-fer, in which double the additional housing units get created. My goal would be to accomplish this without either throwing existing businesses under the bus or penalizing the original development opportunity. I don’t know if it would work. But it is not in any way shape or form a proposal for a traditional subsidy.
OK -- but you are still taking taxpayer resources and giving it [loaning or whatever] to other private citizens for hard to quantify benefits. Once again, my approach allows for the same sort of community benefits, but without any extra burden on the taxpayers -- indeed the more aggressive development should yield a reduction in taxes for every other property.

Quote:
You quoted my post and addressed your response to me, but you spoke to the demons in your head. You speak to the demons in your head so often here at aB that I don’t need that input back from you. I could write your posts in my sleep, if I were reckless enough to mix a bunch of vodka and pseudoephedrine before bed.

I was hoping you (or whoever) might talk to whatever demons / pitfalls / flaws are in my idea, since, unlike you, I don’t think I have all the answers.
West -- I may have some more libertarian views [note I'm not a member of the LP] than you or many of the ABfers -- that is probably true. And -- yes the reason I post here is tht the people are in general intelligent and usually some are appreciative of my suggestions or comments. However, I certainly didn't dismiss your social conscious and community values out of hand -- I just wanted to make the point that you can get there without getting taxpayers involved.

The private sector may not always deliver the end-product as cleanly as we might want. But after some 50 years of spending and spending and not even taxing and taxing to balance the books -- but just spending, spending, taxing and borrowing -- we really have very little to show for post Dwight Eisenhower BIG GOVERNMENT. {He at least left us with the seeds that became, the Interstate Highway System, GPS, Satellite Imagery, and the Internet].

Ultimately -- Bill Clinton may or may not have been sincere when he said "The era of Big Government is over" -- But financial dictates have made the decision for us. As Maggie Thatcher said "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." And we have run out of both taxing and borrowing -- government at all levels has no more money to give or lend to anyone.

Therefore, if we are going to fix the problems which we have a need to fix -- we are going to have to depend on solutions led by the private sector.
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