JPNC Housing and Development Committee Discusses Lawsuit, Proposal for 3371 Washington St.

The Housing and Development Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) met on August 18, where they discussed the lawsuit filed on the Pine Street Inn/The Community Builders housing project on Washington St., as well as heard an informal presentation on the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation’s (JPNDC) plans for 3371 Washington St.

Pine Street Inn/The Community Builders

As previously reported by the Gazette, Monty Gold, the landlord of 3377 Washington St., which is home to Turtle Swamp Brewing, has filed a lawsuit to stop the project to be developed by Pine Street Inn and The Community Builders that will provide housing to low income and formerly homeless individuals.

Many members of the community have spoken out against the lawsuit and in support of the project, saying that housing is needed now more than ever.

The Housing and Development Committee discussed whether or not they want to issue a comment in response to the lawsuit.

“I think that we have the opportunity to make a statement,” JPNC Chair Kevin Rainsford said. “It’s a matter of where does that statement go?”

Neighbor Marie Turley said that there will be another Impact Advisory Group (IAG) meeting, which she said will “hopefully be the next step in trying to mitigate this process.”

Resident Zack DeClerck, who has spoken in favor of the project and against the lawsuit, suggested that the best solution would be for the lawsuit to be dropped, but agreed that the next best would be if the two parties settled out of court.

A letter to the editor, which is published in this week’s Gazette, was submitted by the JPNC outlining the Council’s objection to the lawsuit.

3371 WASHINGTON ST.   (EL EMBAJADOR)

The Committee then heard an informal presentation on the plans for 3371 Washington St., home to El Embajador restaurant. The building is also across the street from the Pine Street Inn project discussed earlier. This project has not yet been filed with the city, and no votes were taken by the committee.

Samantha Montano, who is a member of the JPNC and also a JPNDC staff member, said that JPNDC was able to purchase the building with New Atlantic Development, and Utile has been hired as the design firm. The building was purchased from City Realty, she said.

The intent of the project is to build affordable senior housing, as well as a new restaurant space for El Embajador, should they choose to return to the space when construction is complete.

Montano said that the proposal includes 39 one-bedroom senior units and one live-in manager unit. All units are at or below 60 percent Area Median Income (AMI), and the purpose of these units is to provide affordable housing for seniors who wish to age in place.

“Bostonians over the age of 65 comprise the City’s fastest growing demographic group,” she said.

Brian Goldson of New Atlantic Development said that this is the “minimum number of units to create enough vibrancy and density in the community” so it can be successful, as supportive programs for the seniors will also be run there.

“We anticipated that we would need six stories,” he said, and after meeting with residents on Union Ave. several times, they received a “fair bit of feedback which helped to shape the project.”

He said that people wanted to see the building stepped back so it does not seem so tall.

The building falls under the City’s compact living standards, and there will be a minimum of 25 percent of the units that will be below 30 percent AMI.

On the sustainability front, Goldson said that the building would be “primarily masonry” with a lot fo open glass on the ground floor. The building would be “highly energy efficient,” and they are targeting carbon neutral and passive house requirements.

“This is really early on and you’re still talking to neighbors,” JPNC Housing and Development Committee Chair Carolyn Royce said.

Goldson said that they are trying to get this project in for the next round of funding for affordable housing, which is in late September.

“We anticipate to solicit continued feedback,” he said.

Montano said that the project team has been speaking with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) about the community process, but she said that no projects that have not had three in person meetings prior to the COVID-19 shutdown will be moving forward. The BPDA is, however, taking letters of intent and “we do intend to move forward with the filing and everything,” she said.

Though the team is looking for a letter of non-opposition from the JPNC, they will not be voting on the matter this early in the process, and will wait until the project is more established.

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