Editorial: Washington St. planning

July 5, 2013
By

Two recent trends in JP real estate development are intersecting at the former Hughes Oil site on Washington Street. This nexus is a reminder that we should develop a plan to master these trends and gain maximum benefit from them.

One trend is the creation of dense, highly expensive rental apartments. The other trend is the loss of social service agencies and businesses supporting the working class—in this case, an anti-foreclosure nonprofit and an electrical supply company.

Boston needs more housing units, particularly to retain the young professionals who flee the city in droves. But the sky-high so-called market rate is accessible only to a select group of them. And the real demand—for low- to moderate-income housing—goes unmet. More than 37,000 Boston households—more than JP’s entire population—are on the public housing waiting list.

Likewise, the displacement of businesses and nonprofits that employ people and help others build and retain homes requires serious thought. The Boston Redevelopment Authority has an entire program called Back Streets to preserve such industrial businesses.

The Hughes Oil site is just of several known or likely developments along Washington. New uses are welcome there, but JP should get the details on who exactly they benefit, and demand the City plan accordingly.