The Boston Redevelopment Authority has extended the “Plan JP/Rox” process for three months to October, according to a June 1 letter signed by BRA Director Brian Golden and Department of Neighborhood Development Director Sheila Dillon.
The extension had been advocated for by “Keep It 100% For Egleston,” a group dedicated to keeping the Egleston Square area affordable and ending displacement. The group called the extension “a major victory” in a press release sent after the BRA announcement.
Meanwhile, a local civic group will host a community meeting on “Plan JP/Rox” on June 22.
“Plan JP/Rox” is a planning study for the Washington Street and Columbus Avenue corridor, from Jackson Square to Egleston Square to Forest Hills.
“After carefully considering the thoughtful feedback that we heard from many groups of community members in recent weeks, we agree that more time is necessary to continue to work through components of the plan collaboratively,” the letter to “Plan JP/Rox” advisory group members by Golden and Dillon states. “We believe it is prudent to extend the “Plan JP/Rox” process by an additional three months in order to continue seeking meaningful input from the community. As such, the BRA board will not be asked to consider a draft plan until October.”
The letter reaffirms the BRA’s commitment to several issues, including maximizing overall affordable housing production and creating strategies for increasing affordability through zoning; prioritizing affordable-housing resources, including land acquisition; and emphasizing social equity aspects of the plan.
“Keep it 100% for Egleston” had advocated for the extension at the BRA’s May 11 community meeting and continued to do so afterwards. The group wants the extra time in order for community members to be able to review a complete plan and for the BRA to take a harder look at job standards and design guidelines, as well as other concerns.
“Keep it 100% for Egleston” wants 50 percent of the housing to be affordable to households making less than $35,000 per year, and another 20 percent should be affordable for those making $75,000. Members of the group hope that that will maintain the neighborhood’s current demographics. They have suggested public subsidies for developers and renters to the tune of $20,000 per unit.
“The battle isn’t over yet,” said Jorge Franjul, according to the press release. “Getting three more months is a small stepping stone to a plan with real affordability.”
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) will host a community meeting to discuss the plan on June 22 at the Farnsworth House, starting at 7 p.m.
“Extending the time for the JP/Rox plan is good,” said JPNC Chair Kevin Moloney in an email. “It is too important for JP long-range to rush it through.”
The current JP/Rox draft plan extends existing retail corridors along Washington Street and makes a cluster of artist studios on Washington Street just north of Forest Hills, around the Stonybrook area. Art spaces, light industry and maker spaces, and more density, will be supported, while heavy industry and warehouses will be discouraged. The BRA has said that the plan might allow for denser projects in exchange for developers building more affordable housing.
The maximum height for most areas would remain around three stories, while some more active commercial areas along the southern part of Washington Street going towards Forest Hills could build up to 6 stories. Near Jackson Square and Forest Hills, the plan would allow buildings up to 15 stories tall.
Inclusionary zoning and affordable housing are also a part of the plan. JP/Rox will include 500 units of public housing, and 500 units of affordable housing in private developments—1,000 total units of varying sizes, representing 30 percent of the new housing zoned in JP/Rox. Public housing means housing through community development corporations (like the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation) and other publicly-assisted projects. Total number of new units could range from 3,000 to 3,400. Residents have raised concerns over whether the area’s current infrastructure can handle that type of population boom.