JP Observer: After 26 years, time to build on Brookley lot

By Sandra Storey/Special to the Gazette


A huge lot at 101 Brookley Road in the Stonybrook neighborhood has been unoccupied for at least the past 26 years. The ill-fated site, formerly a nursing home, has been the focus of numerous development plans, community meetings, negotiation sessions and impassioned controversies, as chronicled in 16 past JP Gazette articles.

The weed-covered land surrounded by a tall, green, fabric-covered chain link fence is near another long-running, still undeveloped site—the MBTA’s proposed Arborway Yard. The 1.7-acre Brookley parcel is in a residential area within sight of Franklin Park.

The only major permanent action on the site since Forest Hills Nursing Home went out of business in the 1980s was demolition of the abandoned building. But plenty of other occurrences have taken place.

On July 8, 1997, 45 neighbors opposed to a proposed development of 48 units of artists’ housing on the site rallied there, objecting to density and insufficient parking.

Quite a bit of refuse—now mostly gone—was found dumped on the lot earlier this year, including a truck cab and some large pieces of furniture.

In June 2006, after the building was torn down and following a wet spring, what neighbors called “a green pond” formed. Before the owner could obey the Inspectional Service Department’s order to pump it out, a wild duck was seen swimming around.

The first owner with a plan for the land, Charles O’Malley, sued the City in the early 1990s for not granting a variance for his housing proposal.

Two of three later developers were so confident that they predicted when construction would be finished. David Krock of Land Mark Real Estate Services said he wanted his artists’ housing built by 1998. Krock said in December 1997 that nine units in his proposed housing were already sold.

Later, Gary Martell—who had floated a proposal in early 2001, dropped it after a few months and revived it in 2002—projected his then 36 units would be complete by fall/winter 2005.

The last development talk came when Mayo Group’s Planet Street LLC proposed 50 units there four years ago.

Neighbors were astonished. The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) had spent years negotiating with Martell, who was working with Mayo Group then, culminating in signing a Memorandum of Agreement with him in fall 2006. The plans endorsed by the SNA for 29 units in 16 townhouse-style buildings were even approved by the City.

But all conditions, including Martell as a partner, had disappeared by early 2008.

We are now well into a new decade. The weeds are growing taller and the burrs thicker behind the torn fence. The lot, bigger than a pro football field, has gotten the attention of Jamaica Plain’s Problem Properties Committee and is on its monitoring list.

A spokesperson from Mayo Group/Planet Street LLC, which has been late in paying its taxes on the lot recently, did not return a phone call for this column.

In this improved real estate market, the owner needs to resubmit the previously approved plans to the neighborhood and City and begin creating housing at 101 Brookley Road as soon as possible.

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