I am simply not sure what you expect. Every development needs to be profitable but there are so many restrictions placed on developers that their options are severely limited. It was recently reported that Mass has the highest cost of living expense in the country. That expense flows throughout everything that is built. It is incredibly difficult to build anything dense outside of Boston proper. Virtually any proposal over 3 stories is met with the pitchfork and pearl neckless clutchers and the “community activists” who are really there to protect their own interests, nothing more.Sorry I was referring to HalcyonEra in regards to the triple decker comment.
Anyways, back to your points.
1). I'm not sure I follow your Back Bay analogy. BB has always been one of the wealthiest neighborhoods to live in from the time Boston was built. What's different now than in the late 1800's?
2). Swinging for the fences on Assembly Row. Does it have to be those specific chains? Nope. But there are those types of shoppes going in Assembly Row. Overpriced, flashy, overrated outdoor patio decks and lounges. It's the same concept. No concept of community fabric. A massive failure of long-term neighborhood planning.
3). Legacy Place is right on 128. 3rd Ave in Burlington is on 128. They all have high end retail. Catering to a more upscale demographic. And I left out Wakefield and Westwood Station. The only thing that stands out from the rest of the pop-up developments along 128 is that the T station is already there.
I'm not saying that there isn't a market for these types of neighborhoods but in terms of building a neighborhood with character, I'm a bit skittish on the details. I don't live in Newton but if I did, then I'd demand that the project include a neighborhood school. Public or charter would do just fine (though I would prefer a public school).
Would it be more desirable to build truly economic diverse neighborhoods? Of course. However, while government used to build affordable public housing, that ceased in the 80s. All that is done now is renovation of the existing stock usually through a quasi public-private partnership. The affordable housing component has been pushed onto the developers, and guess what, that cost, which is really a subsidy, is directly passed on to the limited units that are built, and therefore the purchaser of those units, and limiting the demographics that can afford it, both at the housing and retail level.
Would it be great to build eclectic neighborhoods with cool restaurants and shops? Of course. But again public policy makes that virtually impossible. One, you got the ROI for the developers. If you don’t make money you go out of business. I travel a lot and it’s very obvious to me that they reason we only have chain crap around here because of our antiquated and ridiculous limitations on liquor licenses. Chains are the only ones that can afford them. Sure, some communities increase their cap (through state approval of course) but it’s not nearly enough. Individual owned restaurants need to sell booze to make it. And this runs the gamut – case in point, Wegmans paid a small liquor store owner in Natick $1.3M for a full retail license. The windfall is fantastic for the owner of the license, but those costs are ultimately passed to the consumer. And the license holders themselves – stores, bars and existing restaurants are highly protective of those investments and therefore lobby heavily to keep the status quo. As with the small liquor store owner, the license becomes their retirement fund.
So what do end up with? The bro-hoods that you don’t like. At the end of the day though, it's the bro’s can afford it. And the rich foreign kids who come here for school. It’s totally understandable why you don’t like it, but we, as a society, have created this mess through ignorant policy making. In time, things change, neighborhoods evolve. But right out the gate, at this time, these types of developments are really the only thing that can turn a profit.
Sorry for the rant, but again, I am not really sure what exactly you expect.