JPNC’s Zoning Committee unanimously approves affordable development

February 10, 2017
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The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s (JPNC) Zoning Committee unanimously voted on Feb. 1 to approve Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC)’s plan to construct a 100 percent affordable development in Jackson Square at 25 Amory St.

The property at 25 Amory Street will be one of two buildings developed along the northern portion of Site III, which is part of the Jackson Square redevelopment. The Boston Redevelopment Authority, which is now the Boston Planning and Development Agency, approved Site III last summer.

The 25 Amory St. building will have 44 residential units, all to house family-sized households with a maximum of 60 percent area median income (AMI). There will be a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, 16 of which will be supported by project-based vouchers, and two of which will be fully accessible for the sensory impaired. The building will be wood-framed and four stories high with residential parking for bicycles and 22 vehicles.

In an earlier proposal, the group proposed connecting Amory Street directly to Centre Street, as opposed to having a dead end at Amory. This is not longer part of the design due to the results of a traffic study, which posed concerns for aggravated congestion.

The project is required to seek variances on certain zoning codes that it will not meet. These variances include the use of the first floor for residential units, insufficient front and rear yard depth, and exceeding allowed height by around five feet.

Before construction on the building can start, JPNDC needs to gain approval from the City’s Zoning Board of Appeal and approval for funding from various grants. If the group gets the green light, construction would start in spring 2018 and could open by summer 2019. They also need to work with the City to realign a sewage line, which would run under 250 Centre St., the neighboring property that The Community Builders (TBC) will develop.

TBC has indicated that its intentions for 250 Centre St. are to build a 112-unit, mixed-income rental property with 30 percent affordability. It would be six stories tall, built over a parking garage.

The planning process for these projects began decades ago when homes and businesses in the area were bulldozed to make room for a proposed highway. The land has been left vacant since, and JPNDC among other partners have been working on a multi-phase transformation of that land.

About 30 residents attended the Feb. 1 meeting, and all who spoke were in support of the project, with some having questions. A resident wanted to know how the developers planned to maintain stabilization in the community, or prevent displacement. Leslie Bos, JPNDC’s director of real estate, said that this goal would be met by providing 100 percent affordability. Bos also said that she would like to develop a priority system for giving preference to renters who can document their long-term Jamaica Plain residency, as opposed to incoming residents from other areas.

Danielle Sommer, a representative of Keep It 100 for Real Affordable Housing and Racial Justice, said the group is excited about the project.

“It meets a lot of the goals that we’re looking for helping to improve our community. There’s a heavy number of two- and three-bedroom apartments, and that’s really good for families. With one-bedroom apartments as well, you’re able to have intergenerational diversity in the building,” she said.

“We’re happy about the tiering of AMI levels because we think that economic diversification with residents is critical. Clearly, this is the type of housing that we need.”

Dick Monks, member of City Life/Vida Urbana, said that he thinks the project will lower the stress of increased rents in that area.

“We think this project is a good model of how we should move forward here in Jamaica Plain,” said Monks.

The Zoning Committee voted to approve the project with no objections. To learn more about the project, visit jpndc.org.

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