Rally held protesting lawsuits stopping affordable senior housing project

‘Don’t be a Grinch!,’ affordable housing supporters tell Monty Gold

     City Life/ Vida Urbana, along with the Massachusetts Senior Action Council (MSAC) and affordable housing supporters rallied outside of Turtle Swamp Brewing on December 3, asking the brewery and its landlord, Monty Gold, to drop the lawsuits they’ve filed against the 38 unit affordable senior housing building proposed for 3371 Washington St., which abuts the brewery. The project has been proposed by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, along with New Atlantic Development.

     Gold and the owners of Turtle Swamp claim that adequate parking is not proposed as part of this project and there are concerns about traffic and construction driving customers away from the outdoor patio, as well as the size of the project, according to lawsuits filed in May of this year.

     With chants of “Monty Gold, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side!” And “You’re a mean one, Monty Gold!” and MSAC member Pamela Taylor dressed as the Grinch, representing Monty Gold, a crowd gathered in front of the brewery on December 3 to express their support for the senior housing project and their opposition for the lawsuit.

     District 8 City Councilor Kenzie Bok also came out to express her support, and spoke about the removal of parking minimums from the zoning code.

     “We couldn’t allow parking minimums to be a legal hook for this kind of bad faith lawsuit,” Bok said. She said that “what does not make sense is to allow somebody to weaponize [parking] against the creation of homes for these people.”

     The City Council passed an amendment to the zoning code that removes these minimums, Bok said. It also passed the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board in November as well as the Zoning Commission on December 15.

     Several other speakers led the rally, including Alex Ponte-Capellan, a community organizer for City Life/Vida Urbana. He said that in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the “Grinch had a change of heart,” and the hope here is that the same will happen with Monty Gold and Turtle Swamp.

     “I know that if nothing is done, these folks could be out on the street; could be in shelters,” he said, and there is still a pandemic on top of that.

     Kathy Paul, who described herself as a “proud member of Mass Senior Action Council,” said that “we are here today to stand for senior housing and to stand against greed. This is what we say: Gold and Turtle Swamp are Grinches.”

     She continued, “Just like the Grinch in the children’s story tried to steal toys from children, these Grinches are holding up housing seniors need, and in the process, could force the restaurant to lose their home too.”

     The affordable housing project proposal also includes space for El Embajador, a restaurant that has been in that location for 40 years.

     Paul’s daughter shared her story of having to live in a shelter and being told she would have to wait 10-15 years to get an affordable unit.

     “Living in a shelter took a toll on my mental and physical health,” she said. “Mr. Monty Gold, I beg you to please drop your lawsuit as these 38 affordable units for senior citizens will help so many seniors and please stop being a Grinch. Have a heart, have a heart, please.”

     She said that “after seven long years, I finally got my housing. I do know what it’s like to have a home again.”

     Also in attendance at the rally was a local 5th grade class, some members of which provided their thoughts on the situation and spoke out in support of affordable housing in the neighborhood.

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