Orient Heights BHA Redevelopment | Faywood Ave/Vallar Rd/Waldemar Ave | East Boston

datadyne007

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OP has been updated with information & images from the NPC.
 

Beton Brut

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I don't live "up the hill" but I've followed this project through regular attendance at the Orient Height Neighborhood Council meetings. As I've said upthread, this development was initially built as "veterans housing," targeted to military families transitioning back to civilian life. Built in the years after WWII, these were joylessly utilitarian buildings, more solidly built than their replacements.

The changes being referred to as "minor" include removal of all market rate units (42) and almost doubling the amount of open space. Less dense, more suburban, 100% public housing.
This is the complicated and inelegant result of home owners abutting the development doing everything they can to "minimize the impact" of this development on their lives and property values. The surrounding homes are 75% single family, and overwhelmingly owner occupied.

It's important to note that there's also heavy resistance to the construction of privately financed multifamily projects in this part of the Heights; meetings where projects of this nature are discussed often devolve into shouting matches worthy of the WWE. A sample scenario: a single family is purchased and demolished, to be replaced with a "contextual" three-unit condo with all the architectural integrity of a chicken coup.

I'd suggest that these home-owners feel generally dispossessed and distrustful of public housing policy in and beyond East Boston. Old timers (folks of my father's generation) tend to be very angry people, even before they turn on FauxNews.

...these days whenever I see something this low density I know I am looking at subsidized housing.
Perhaps this is a function of the stigma that commuter guy calls attention to:

If the goal of the these public housing retrofits is to blend in better with the surrounding neighborhood in an attempt to decrease the stigma of living in what looks to be "public housing" i'd say the town home portion of this project fails. I think the average resident will recognize this project as separate and distinct from the surrounding neighborhood now and in the future.
This may also explain the elimination of the market-rate component of the project. If the developer's being pushed to reduce the scale, the first thing to go will be the elements that are the most costly to produce.

There’s something to be said for the market forces there, encouraging developers.
And in this case, discouraging developers. I'll make the outlandish suggestion that the market forces that pushed the shrinkage of this project are the home values of the surrounding neighborhood, and the loud voices of their owners.

I empathize with these folks, because the sociopolitical landscape of East Boston is like no place else. I do what I can as one voice in a community to get my older and less worldly neighbors to think differently about density, height, mixed-market housing, traffic calming, the need for cycling infrastructure and car shares, and all the rest.

Sometimes I think I'd be better off cracking a beer and watching the ballgame...
 

odurandina

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This one came with way too little opposition. Per the usual, it should have been at least 50~150 more units with the same number of parking spaces as existing project (Welcoming the young active folk prepared for a NYC scaled walk to transit). At this point every project approved short of 5 Globe stories and negotiations/extortion from neighbors is another loss for the City. Build baby build.
 

Brad Plaid

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The townhouses look like they could be future maintenance money pits, too much taxpayer cost for too little return.
 

DigitalSciGuy

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These turned out disappointingly a lot like some newer housing I've seen around JP, much of it is starting to show its age including an affordable housing development catty-corner from Jackson station. I'll say there's widespread underappreciation for the incorporation of income-restricted housing with market rate developments and it's a shame this didn't turn out to be more like a housing 'ladder' as with 125 Amory.
 

Charlie_mta

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God, I hate separating poor people into these off-site reservations that turn into goddamned slums. I thought by now as a society we'd be beyond that, but apparently not.
 

KentXie

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God, I hate separating poor people into these off-site reservations that turn into goddamned slums. I thought by now as a society we'd be beyond that, but apparently not.
Just a question. Why do you think that these places will turn into slums? Is it because you believe that the city will ignore this area as soon as these apartments are constructed?

Maybe it's the optimism in me but I believe dedicating the right amount of resources to keep the new neighborhood maintained would allow it to thrive even if the residents themselves are not well off.
 

Charlie_mta

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I hope you're right. The public housing project I grew up in North Cambridge looked great initially in 1954, just like this one, then by 1967 was the worst shithole imaginable. Also, like this one, it was isolated from the rest of the community.


Hopefully this one will turn out better, but the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.
 

dshoost88

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God, I hate separating poor people into these off-site reservations that turn into goddamned slums. I thought by now as a society we'd be beyond that, but apparently not.
This abuts Suffolk Downs. If even a fraction of HYM’s long-term development plans come to fruition there, this will actually integrate very nicely with Boston’s next Boston Landing-, Assembly Row-style neighborhood.
 

Vagabond

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Just a question. Why do you think that these places will turn into slums? Is it because you believe that the city will ignore this area as soon as these apartments are constructed?

Maybe it's the optimism in me but I believe dedicating the right amount of resources to keep the new neighborhood maintained would allow it to thrive even if the residents themselves are not well off.
You don't think concentrated poverty is a bad thing?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentrated_poverty#Effects
 

tangent

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This abuts Suffolk Downs. If even a fraction of HYM’s long-term development plans come to fruition there, this will actually integrate very nicely with Boston’s next Boston Landing-, Assembly Row-style neighborhood.
Show me the money.
 

KentXie

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You don't think concentrated poverty is a bad thing?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentrated_poverty#Effects
I'm not saying it's not a bad thing but I wonder how much of the impact is because of the lack of resource dedicated to maintaining the neighborhood, rather than the cause being a bunch of poor people live together.

From my understanding, these neighborhoods tend to be underfunded, understandably, as wealthier neighborhoods do not need help from the government to maintain the neighborhood. I think this is the main cause of the Concentrated Poverty Effect. A section in the link you posted mentions this:

"As explored more fully in the section on effects, concentrated poverty has increasingly been recognized as a "causal factor" in compounding the effects of poverty by isolating residents in these neighborhoods from networks and resources useful to realize human potential."

This neighborhood does not have to be isolated from networks and resources. You can bring the network and resources to them. If the government can infuse money to help ensure that there is sufficient resources for the schools they attend, libraries, after school programs, job programs, and etc., I doubt that these neighborhoods will turn into "slums".

And to clarify, I am not for segregating people by wealth. I'm saying given the situation here where this is the case, it is not a total lost cause. That being said, I don't know what the odds are that this neighborhood will be sufficiently funded.
 
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