Concerns raised over Allendale St. project

August 28, 2015
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The view currently at 64 Allandale St., where a proposal calls for building 16 townhouses and renovating the house into four units. (Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley)

The view currently at 64 Allandale St., where a proposal calls for building 16 townhouses and renovating the house into four units. (Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley)

Tony LaCasse, a former longtime JP resident who now lives in Roslindale, is raising concerns over the impact of a proposed 20-unit development at 64 Allandale St., saying it encroaches upon the Allandale Woods.

Allandale Woods is an “urban wild” of more than 80 acres of City- and private-owned land in Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury, according to the City website. The woods is roughly formed by Allandale and Centre streets, the VFW Parkway and the Hackensack Road.

Meanwhile, Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) spokesperson Nick Martin said in an email that it is “early” in the process and that discussions are underway to review the project’s impact and the affordability component of it. A community meeting is expected to take place in early September, but a date has not been finalized, according to Martin.

Donald Wiest, the attorney for the developer, did not respond to a request for comment.

The property at 64 Allandale St. is on the border of West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. It is part of the West Roxbury Neighborhood District, as a matter of zoning, according to the BRA.

Wonder Group, LLC, a Dorchester-based developer, has filed a project notification form (PNF) with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for a 20-unit development at 64 Allandale St.

The proposal calls for building 16 new townhouses and creating four units at an existing house already on the property. The townhouses would be built in five different clusters, snaking down towards Allandale Woods and replacing a verdant landscape. The townhouses would range from three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half stories. The project would have 47 parking spaces, including seven spots for guests.

The PNF, which does not discuss affordable housing, states that the project “aims to be a national model for sustainability by achieving multiple ambitious goals: net-zero energy usage, LEED Platinum design and fortified home construction ensuring maximum climate change resilience.”

Martin said that the City’s affordable-housing policy requires that 2.6 units of the development be affordable, and typically, that number is rounded up.

“The development team understands the [the affordability] requirement for the project, and, at this early stage in the process, we’re still working with them to come to terms on how exactly they will meet their obligation,” said Martin.

LaCasse took the Gazette on a tour of Allandale Woods, extolling the virtues of the urban wild and expressing concern on how closely the development will come to it. He showed where he said other development projects in the area contributed land to Allandale Woods and questioned why the 64 Allandale St. proposal would not do that.

“These five additional buildings would be built right up to the northern edge of Allandale Woods and would be visible from throughout the eastern section of the urban wild, ruining the efforts of generations of neighbors, philanthropists and past mayoral administrations to create a small, secluded, wild respite,” he said later in an email.

LaCasse said that Allandale Woods has been assembled over the years through conservation easements from abutting private property, such as Allandale condominiums (17 acres), Springhouse Senior Living (about 7 acres) and Sophia Snow Place (about 2.5 acres.) He also said that the driveway for the development might lead to accidents, as it is situated near a blind corner on Allandale Street, and that runoff from vehicles at the development could cause environmental damage.

Martin said he could not confirm LaCasse easement numbers without knowing his source, but said that the project manager is “aware of concerns” about the project’s impact on Allandale Woods. He said that the comment period has been extended to “allow for further review and conversation between the development team and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department’s Urban Wilds specialists. The topography of the site presents unique challenges, and we’re working to address questions about possible runoff into the protected woods.”

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