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Old 10-04-2014, 01:31 PM   #1
JeffDowntown
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Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

Mayor Walsh and the Mayor's Housing Advisory Task Force will announce the Mayor's housing plan for the City. Thursday October 9, 2014, 2:30 PM (invitation event). Meeting at Parcel 24 (One Greenway), 55 Hudson Street. Chinatown.
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Old 10-04-2014, 02:03 PM   #2
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

Hopefully we'll all be pleasantly surprised but I'm not expecting much.
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Old 10-09-2014, 08:32 AM   #3
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

Article with link to plan: http://www.masslive.com/news/boston/..._for_2030.html
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Old 10-09-2014, 08:36 AM   #4
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

The plan hits all the right points. Lets see how they handle the NIMBYs. Unless they do a lot of rezoning to allow as of right construction, there's going to be neighborhood review. And rezoning is probably going to mean a new master plan. Good news is, we need a new master plan any way, but the process of getting it done could be... painful.
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Old 10-09-2014, 09:09 AM   #5
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

https://www.scribd.com/doc/242401317...ty-Boston-2030
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Old 10-09-2014, 10:04 AM   #6
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

The plan is going in the right direction, tho I do worry about the execution. I can't help but think of the new development at the empty parcel next to Roxbury Crossing T stop. It was a blank slate, literally RIGHT NEXT to a T station, and while the development is better than the empty lot its replacing, I really feel like it was an opportunity to build even denser. Those are the types of locations that need to be taken advantage of.
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Old 10-09-2014, 10:33 AM   #7
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

More commentary on Boston.com

http://www.boston.com/real-estate/ne...sub_headline_5
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Old 10-09-2014, 03:31 PM   #8
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

I feel like the city is going to hit 700,000 earlier than that. The latest census report pegged Boston at 645,966 and this probably hasn't taken account of the effects of the building boom we are expecting. I won't be surprised if Boston goes past that mark in the early 2020s.
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Old 10-09-2014, 05:20 PM   #9
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

I think the Globe article made a mistake on that. I have read estimates that have Boston close to 700,000 by the next census. If you look at the plan, the intend to increase the housing supply by 53,000 units through 2030. The average inhabitants per unit in Boston is about 2.5. that means an increase in excess of 130,000 people in 16 years, which would get us closer to 800,000.
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Old 10-09-2014, 07:10 PM   #10
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

Quote:
Mary Walsh called her son to inform him that a family that has lived on Taft Street in Dorchester's Savin Hill neighborhood for over 30 years was leaving because their new landlord is converting the three-decker in which they live into condominiums.

While relaying the story, Mayor Walsh said that it is hard to blame somebody for wanting to make money on property that they own, but at the same time, neighborhoods suffer when they lose the stability brought about by long-term residents.
Maybe someone can cite some statistics that show otherwise, but I've always been under the impression that tenants tend to be less long-term than property owners.

(unrelated, but come on, Mayor, get your mom a nice place)
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Old 10-09-2014, 08:37 PM   #11
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

I read that too and wondered about it -- but I think his mom was referring to some other family, a friend perhaps. Ambiguous.
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Old 10-10-2014, 08:45 AM   #12
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

Quote:
Maybe someone can cite some statistics that show otherwise, but I've always been under the impression that tenants tend to be less long-term than property owners.
They do, but way less so as you approach the lower end of the economic spectrum. And those are the people more economically hurt by a forced move.
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Old 10-21-2014, 07:46 PM   #13
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

A call to reign in NIMBYs:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2...DhO/story.html

excerpts:

" development hasn’t come close to catching up with the growth. And Boston is far behind what other cities are doing. Since 2010, Denver has built two-and-a-half times as many new housing units as Boston has, while Seattle has outbuilt us by three-and-a-half times. Even San Francisco, where housing woes are so acute that residents are demonstrating, has outrun the pace of housing construction here by thousands of units since 2010."

"As tightly-packed as Boston is, it isn’t short on buildable land. But the city’s development politics don’t allow the city to take advantage of most of the free land it does have. The real issue is finding space unencumbered by crippling neighborhood politics."
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:09 AM   #14
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smartiro View Post
A call to reign in NIMBYs:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2...DhO/story.html

excerpts:

" development hasn’t come close to catching up with the growth. And Boston is far behind what other cities are doing. Since 2010, Denver has built two-and-a-half times as many new housing units as Boston has, while Seattle has outbuilt us by three-and-a-half times. Even San Francisco, where housing woes are so acute that residents are demonstrating, has outrun the pace of housing construction here by thousands of units since 2010."

"As tightly-packed as Boston is, it isn’t short on buildable land. But the city’s development politics don’t allow the city to take advantage of most of the free land it does have. The real issue is finding space unencumbered by crippling neighborhood politics."
This is incredibly important, particularly if we are going to get the density needed to meet the Mayor's targets.

My rough math says that to get to 20,000 "middle income" units you need to build roughly 110 One Greenway type projects in the city by 2030 (40 to 50% of units below "market rate" -- read luxury). One Hundred and Ten -- that is a huge number.
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Old 10-22-2014, 08:29 AM   #15
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

McMorrow agrees about the 700,000 estimate being low:

Quote:
The city has been adding new residents so quickly lately that, if the current pace of growth keeps up, Boston could hit the 700,000 mark a decade sooner than the city’s housing plan anticipates.
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Old 10-22-2014, 09:49 AM   #16
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

It's going to take some major political will on the Mayor's part to make any substantive changes to zoning to allow larger student housing complexes and denser, carless residential development.

Focusing on the Main Streets districts where there is already transit and retail would enable some significant redevelopment of all those 1- and 2-story buildings that line much of the city's neighborhoods. But people inherently want places they like ("their neighborhood") to stay substantially the same as they are -- no new buildings, no more cars, no change of existing uses.

BRA project review needs to get streamlined and the city needs to release linkage money to the nonprofit neighborhood development corporations so they can actually build projects like Jackson Square and Bartlett Yards that have been in the works for years.
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Old 01-31-2015, 07:00 PM   #17
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

I'm gonna post this whole op-ed piece here so you don't have to click through (and since it might be behind a paywall for you).

Basically, the author (a developer) lists several ways that Boston could get developers to build more housing for the middle class.

I like what he suggests but I don't think much is likely to happen. (Property tax relief?)

A Practical Approach to Middle-Market Housing
By Bruce A Percelay
Boston Globe

Quote:
MAYOR WALSH’s housing policy highlights a priority for Boston that will ultimately determine who will be able to afford to live in this city. The complexity surrounding the shortage of rental housing rests in the fact that this is a public policy problem that can only be solved by the private sector. Having recently developed a major apartment community directed toward middle income renters in Allston, my company proved that the goal of developing large numbers of housing units for the middle class can be achieved, but not easily. We were able to build the project during the economic slowdown and replicating it today at the higher cost of land and construction would be challenging.

The mayor has wisely avoided the punitive approach to the housing problem by offering incentives rather than outmoded concepts like rent control, which may have been the largest single reason why Boston is so under-housed. The fact is that the only practical way to lower rents is to increase supply so significantly that the grip landlords have over tenants is broken, and there is equilibrium in the marketplace.

Coming from a developer, it sounds heretical to argue for increased supply when it will ultimately yield flat or even lower rents in Boston. But when a city only satisfies the needs of the very wealthy or the very poor, it is not in anyone’s economic interest. This is simply a case of enlightened capitalism. The question is whether it is possible to achieve the mayor’s lofty goals of creating a vast amount of housing that is neither luxury nor subsidized.

The challenge behind creating middle-market supply stems from the economic reality that the cost of a brick for a luxury downtown high-rise is exactly the same as for an entry-level apartment building in an outlying neighborhood where rents are lower. That explains why the vast majority of new projects are aimed at the luxury market. How then can the mayor meet his objectives?

First, the city should allow landlords to convert large three- and four-bedroom apartments into more but smaller units. This would add to the affordable housing stock almost immediately. They could create thousands of new apartments at rents far below new construction, and help solve the overcrowding problem plaguing many student neighborhoods.

Second, the city should provide a 10-year property tax exemption on middle-market apartment projects, as New York City offers through its 421-a program on new residential construction. This would have a meaningful impact on stimulating new construction beyond downtown Boston.

Third, based on a tragic basement fire years ago, there has been a virtual moratorium on the conversion of basement space into legal housing units. The city could create thousands of low-priced apartment units in older buildings if the basement conversion policy were changed.

Fourth, as the mayor has suggested, achieving higher density is essential in creating more housing. Density is a political third rail that has deterred past mayors concerned with facing the ire of the neighborhoods, but is a battle worth fighting for the greater good of the city.

Fifth, reduced parking requirements can significantly reduce project impact costs, especially if costly underground parking is not required. While neighborhoods stridently oppose a lack of onsite parking due to the threat of creating additional competition for spaces, a concern which is valid, the notion of building one parking space for each bedroom in this “green” age is simply antiquated.

Sixth, some labor unions have already recognized that a reduced residential rate is appropriate on wood-framed projects outside of the downtown high-rise luxury market. The trade unions have invaluable expertise in building these types of structures, and if a residential labor rate was applied throughout all the trades for middle-market projects, it could significantly increase the production of workforce housing.

Seventh, while the city’s affordable housing requirements on new developments serve a critical purpose, they make middle-market housing all the more difficult to build. For developments targeted toward the middle market, there should be a more flexible approach to satisfying affordable housing needs, including lump sum payments or offsite alternatives.

Eighth, the mayor’s astute pledge to streamline the design review and permitting process will save developers a significant amount of money. From a developer’s perspective, the permitting process has always taken too long, but more manpower will be required to speed up the approval of worthy projects.

Last, if developers want concessions to make their projects work, they must also exercise their own restraint in rental pricing. In our case in Allston, we deliberately chose to apply more moderate rents in exchange for achieving a faster lease-up, full occupancy, and fewer turnovers. But we believe in the karma of commerce and that respecting the economic circumstances of tenants comes back in the form of a higher level of respect toward the property and more stable long-term performance of an asset.

If Boston is to provide adequate housing for the backbone of its population, landlords, labor unions, and the city itself all need to make concessions to produce a result that will ultimately secure Boston’s housing future.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:47 AM   #18
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

4, 5, and 8 are already happening. 2 has been hinted at by Walsh. 3, 6, and 7 are interesting suggestions that should probably be looked into.

I have an issue with 1 though - it's completely backwards. There's a huge need for family housing (3+ beds). Killing off the limited stock of lower to middle income family housing for micro-units, 1 beds, and 2 beds that are already one of the few things developers are willing to build is just fucking crazy (sorry for the language). For sure, make it easier to construct more micro units, 1 beds, and 2 beds, but don't do it at the expense of something that's borderline impossible to build in the current economy and that's desperately needed. Hell, the real Holy Grail of housing policy isn't what this guy's talking about at all; it's building the affordable 3+ beds he's looking to convert.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:59 AM   #19
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

Not sure what he is saying with (1)

Converting a 3 bedroom into 3 studios??? Or something else?

Anyone in Allston can tell you that a typical 3 bedroom has all 3 rooms and the living room occupied with beds currently. Often, it will have 6-8 people living there. Not sure what converting to smaller units will do to make it more affordable.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:29 AM   #20
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Re: Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030

Taking a large unit and turning it into a "black market" rooming house has been Boston's "affordable housing policy" for a while, sadly.

That's what's inevitably going to happen when people can't afford to live on their own due to lack of supply.

If we were able to resolve this issue somewhat then some of the existing 3+ bedroom units would come back online for families.

I don't know if splitting up large units into smaller units is something you want to do all the time. But it can help in some situations. I live in such a building, for instance, and it's been beneficial I think. They did a good job of it. And some of the houses around here are enormous... 15+ rooms. That's just too big. There's no chance that any single family could ever afford it without being independently wealthy, and I'm not going to worry about affordable housing for the wealthy.

Much better to have that kind of unit split up into multiple, more affordable chunks, with proper egresses up to fire code. Otherwise they just get turned into rooming houses, without much review.
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