Opposition continues to Green St. development

There is continuing opposition to City Realty’s proposed development at 197-201 Green St., as the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) says the project is still under review.

According to BPDA, the agency received more than 50 letters during the comment period, which ended Nov. 12. The break down of the comment letters were 8 supportive and 46 in opposition and 1 neutral. There was significant opposition expressed during the BPDA community meeting in October–much of it directed towards City Realty itself–though some people expressed support for the project.

City Realty has plans to tear down a single-family home that is currently on the site at 197-201 Green St. and build a 20,480-square-foot building with four floors; a mix of studios, one-bedroom units, and two-bedroom units; six parking spaces; about 700 square feet of retail; and a bike room.

The 23 residential units would consist of 4 live/work units, 4 studios, 12 one-bedrooms, and 3 two-bedrooms. Four of the units would be marked as affordable, which meets the affordability requirements of the Plan: JP/Rox. Three of the units would be listed at 40 percent of area median income (AMI), while one unit would be listed at 70 percent AMI.

The project was originally filed as part of a larger development that included space along Washington Street, but City Realty has since withdrawn that proposal and is attempting to sell the Washington Street parcels. City Realty bought the Washington and Green streets site from Walter Craven, who unsuccessfully sought to develop the area.

Lance Campbell of the BPDA said the Green Street project is “still under review,” but that at some point it will go to the BPDA board. He said there are a handful Union Avenue abutters supporting the project. Campbell said that a second meeting between the Union Avenue Neighborhood Association and City Realty did happen and that BPDA is awaiting a comment letter from the civic group.

Asked to comment, Cathie Wilder of the Union Avenue Neighborhood Association said, “Union Ave. is in the process of reviewing the latest proposal from City Realty.”

Keep It 100 for Real Affordable Housing and Racial Justice, a group that played a prominent role during the Plan: JP/Rox planning process and had members at the BPDA community meeting on the Green Street project protesting City Realty, sent the Gazette a statement about the proposal.

The statement said, “Following the BPDA public meeting on City Realty’s proposed project at 197 Green Street, neighborhood residents, as well as members of City Life/Vida Urbana and Keep It 100 for Real Affordable Housing and Racial Justice, submitted written comments to the BPDA opposing the project and calling on City Realty to:

  • Stop speculation next door where City Realty is displacing El Embajador restaurant, and partner with an affordable housing developer to build affordable housing units there.
  • Sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with an anti-displacement plan to stop City Realty’s pattern of continued evictions
  • Contribute materially to cyclist and pedestrian safety on Green Street.”

The statement went on to say that written comments from the community “reinforced the message” from the community meeting that City Realty should not be allowed to develop the proposal until it “commits to stopping speculation and displacement.” The statement pointed to the El Embajador restaurant that is located at a Washington Street building that City Realty owns as an example. The two have been in a lease dispute and City Realty is now attempting to sell the building, which might force the restaurant out.

“City Realty has evicted tenants, filed lawsuits for monetary damages against tenants when they did not agree to rent increases, and pressured them to sign move-out agreements. Instead of evicting tenants and filing lawsuits, City Realty should sign a memorandum of understanding with an anti-displacement plan. This should include long-term leases with rents that are affordable for working-class residents, which would maintain our neighborhood’s diversity and character,” said the statement.

BPDA spokesperson Bonnie McGilpin said, “We are reviewing the statement.”

Clifford Kensington of City Realty said, We are proud that our project at 197 Green Street is the only private development proposed so far which follows all of the development and community standards put in place by Plan JP/ROX, a set of guidelines that was created using input from all community stakeholders. These two specific groups were closely involved in the process from start to finish. This compromise solution is based on approved community standards and mainstream public opinion. We understand this may not satisfy some groups whose opinions are outside the mainstream, but we believe that having one set of rules that apply equally to everyone is the fairest solution.”

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