Back Bay Garage Tower | Dartmouth and Stuart | Back Bay

stellarfun

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Obviously adding substantial quantities of people to Boston proper could not be achieved without a substantial uptick in housing stock, both to house them physically and bring down prices. The idea that anyone is arguing that 200k people could be housed if they showed up with their suitcases tomorrow is a straw man.
My original question was 'where are the jobs coming from to support a 200,000 increase in Boston's population in the next decade?' The answer to that was basically, 'the jobs are already there, just have people move in from the suburbs, and you'll get the 200,000 population increase.' When I suggested that people lived in the suburbs for sound economic reasons, the response became an urban version of 'Field of Dreams', 'Build them [housing] and they will come' (paraphrasing).

On realtor.com, I find a 3,900 sq ft home on 1.03 acres in Canton that sold for $1.2 million; Wellesley, a listing for a brand new home 4,300 sq ft on 1/3 acre for $1.77 million; Natick, on older home of 2,800 sq ft listed for $525,000.

Taking Wellesley's median household size of 2.78 people (rather than Boston's 2.26), one would need to build 7,250 new residential units per year in each of the next ten years to accommodate the influx. And of course, build these units inexpensively so people can afford them, but also build them with sufficient architectural panache that the developer avoids the grumbling and griping of the "nattering nabobs of negativism" one often finds out and about.
 

fattony

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

On realtor.com, I find a 3,900 sq ft home on 1.03 acres in Canton that sold for $1.2 million; Wellesley, a listing for a brand new home 4,300 sq ft on 1/3 acre for $1.77 million; Natick, on older home of 2,800 sq ft listed for $525,000.
I'm not sure what the point of the numbers is. I don't think the price per square foot matters that much - at least not for comparing suburban (mc)mansions to rowhouses. The size of homes in suburban America is usually VASTLY greater than what is needed or even utilized. $1.77M may buy 4,300 sq. ft. in Wellesley and it may buy 1,500 sq. ft. in the Back Bay or South End. A family of 3 with that kind of money to spend, assuming they want to live in the city, will live very comfortably in 1500 sq ft.

A) 1500 sq ft in the city gets 3 bed, 2 bath, and a separate living and dining room. Probably a small deck and small yard too. And a playground in walking distance. School probably in walking distance (I admit to not knowing much about schools in Boston). Other young couples with kids all in walking distance.

B) 4,300 sq ft in Wellesley they can have 5 beds, 4 baths, a finished basement, 3 more rooms they don't use, and a 1/4 mile driveway to snow-blow. They get the strip-mall shopping, mini-vanning the kids to soccer practice lifestyle.

It is a different lifestyle in the smaller housing unit, but not a lower quality of life because the footprint is smaller. Clearly millions of Americans like option B. However, the trend is that more people are choosing A) than used to. I would like to see every effort by Boston (and Cambridge, etc.) to support that trend and be the place people seeking an urban lifestyle choose to live.
 

stellarfun

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

fattony, the demographics of Boston Public schools is that the students are 13 percent white, 74 percent are eligible to receive free and reduced price meals at school, and 45 percent are eligible to receive Food Stamps.

So the students are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, and the majority are from low income households. There are 18,000 school-age children in Boston who do not attend Boston Public schools, Nearly 10,000 attend parochial or private schools, and 3,000 (nearly all minority) attend public schools in communities outside of Boston. About 5,000 go to charter schools.

Although court-ordered busing ended more than two decades ago, and only 13 percent of students in the public schools today are white, the school district buses 64 percent of its students in kindergarten through eighth grade to schools outside their immediate neighborhoods. The city tried twice in the last decade to change the system and failed both times.

“Children are being bused now because they have been bused for 40 years and no one has had the political courage to dismantle it,” said Lawrence DiCara, a former Boston city councilor who supported busing in the 1970s and is writing a book about the city in that era. “Now, there are no white kids to be integrated. Everyone is being randomly bused. It doesn’t make sense.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/education/new-boston-busing-debate-4-decades-after-fervid-clashes.html?pagewanted=all

And that is why there will be no influx of white families into Boston.
 

underground

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

How does one 'empty the suburbs?'
Ending government subsidies that keep gas cheap would be a start. After that, either end government subsidies that keep mortgages cheap or add a federal tax deduction for rent, and stop linking school budgets to property taxes.
 

George_Apley

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Where do we put all these suburbanites once their subsidized lifestyle is done away with? There's not enough housing supply in the city to support the people who WANT to live here let alone hordes of bitter suburbanites...
 

Shepard

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Nothing about the schools situation invalidates FatTony's post, which I think was spot on. Also, I don't know how much I agree with the idea of gentrified school districts. Bring in more parents who care and let them raise their voices about the system as a whole. This does take a bit of a pioneer spirit but that hardly means it's impossible.
 

underground

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

@BussesAin'tTrains:

Totally agree. The discussion started out as, "where are the people who are going to move into all these new projects coming from?" "The suburbs" was just someone's possible answer.

Bring in more parents who care and let them raise their voices about the system as a whole. This does take a bit of a pioneer spirit but that hardly means it's impossible.
It's already happening. Could happen A LOT more, but it looks like it's trending. At least in some neighborhoods.
 

kz1000ps

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

And the derailing of this thread is complete! Great job as always, guys.
 

HenryAlan

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Nothing about the schools situation invalidates FatTony's post, which I think was spot on. Also, I don't know how much I agree with the idea of gentrified school districts. Bring in more parents who care and let them raise their voices about the system as a whole. This does take a bit of a pioneer spirit but that hardly means it's impossible.
And it is in fact happening in some neighborhoods. I live in the West Zone, and most of the schools here have very active parent councils that are fundraising and otherwise involving themselves in ways to support the quality of the schools. I am friends with people who have had kids in all six Roslindale elementary schools, and some of the JP and West Roxbury schools, and I don't know a single person who regrets the choice to send their children to a BPS school, but all of these people are also personally involved in making sure their kids get what they need.

We are the pioneers, and the next phase is coming, where the schools become recognized for doing a good job. BPS enrollment is up for kindergarten and first grade. There is a reason for this, and it isn't because we are adding population -- the enrollment bubble is bigger than population growth.
 

DominusNovus

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Ending government subsidies that keep gas cheap would be a start. After that, either end government subsidies that keep mortgages cheap or add a federal tax deduction for rent, and stop linking school budgets to property taxes.
So, basically, pipe dream stuff. All while not touching any of the subsidies that benefit cities (and adding some, too!). Gotcha.
 

AmericanFolkLegend

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Stellar, I feel like you plagiarized your argument from a 1981 WSJ article.
There's a reason why the property values virtually across the city have gone up in the last 10 years. And why neighborhoods like JP, Charlestown, SB, SE, etc. have seen a resurgence as a place to raise families. The notion that white people won't live in cities, or that busing is killing our communities is comically outdated. There are some great public schools in Boston now (particularly at the primary level).
My parents grew up in Brighton and Dorchester, got married and moved to the South Shore immediately. Had three white boys.
Boy #1, married, moved to the South End, had a kid, and moved to a bigger place in Charlestown because the idea of moving the the suburbs for more space was abhorrent.
Boy #2, married, moved to South Boston, had a kid , and bought a bigger place in South Boston.
Boy #3, married, moved to Back Bay and is having a kid.
 

TallIsGood

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

How many of those kids are in public schools? I lived in the city and had a child. When we were having our second and the first had to attend school, we looked at our options. Our real choices were private schools or move to suburbs. We moved out in 2006 so our child could begin school. We loved the city and my wife said we'll be back the day the youngest goes off to college. All of our friends do the same. They have kids, they want to find a way to stay and once the real choice of schools come up, they try to find good options and move. You can't necessarily pick your elementary school in Boston, you're assigned one - we weren't playing roulette with their education.
 

commuter guy

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Same experience, with me, 3 kids now living in a close in suburb. My old neighborhood was great, I lived right on the roslindale/ west roxbury line. Some nearby elementary were well liked, but given the lottery assignment system, it was very hard to get your selected school choice. For middle school and above, it's the exam schools or you better find a trust fund to pay tuition for a larger family. I'm surrounded by others in the suburbs with the same story so it does have some demographic impact on the city.
 

belmont square

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

We've got three kids in Eastie. Oldest two are in Boston public schools and youngest will start next year. Have a number of friends living in Eastie, North End, Back Bay who have made the same choice. Admittedly our long term plan is dependent on at least a couple of them getting into exam schools. But I find it very disappointing that so many families who claim to love living in the city opt for the suburbs before even sending their kids to public school for a few years and trying it out. Leaving the city for us was not something we were going to consider so we've charted out an educational path for our kids that doesn't involve leaving. If you're making the decision to leave before your kids actually attend Boston Public Schools, then you probably never really were committed to staying in the first place.
 

TallIsGood

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Say what you will about being committed. My wife and I both work in Boston. We just weren't willing to gamble the kids education for a few years to show commitment to living in the city. Their education is more important. Obviously lots of others feel the same way, that was my point. I know Beacon Hill residents offered a free building to the city if they would put a school in it. The city said no and we moved. The city isn't all that committed to keeping us there either I guess.
 

HenryAlan

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

BPS schools get a bad reputation because they take the lowest common denominator kids, while much of the cream is skimmed off. The result is poor average test scores. But smart kids with committed parents thrive in BPS schools just as much as their peers do in suburban or private schools. I have a few friends who did go to the suburbs, and when I talk to them about schools, nothing I hear convinces me that my kids would be better off out in the burbs. And I know they would lose some advantages that matter to me like exposure to diversity and living in a walkable neighborhood.

I have three kids in BPS schools, and we find out soon whether my oldest will be going to an exam school. I'm pretty sure she will, just some question about which one. If she goes to BLS, that's one of the best highs chools in the country. Why would I move away from Boston and miss that opportunity?
 

commuter guy

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Also I grew up in the midwest with neighborhood schools. Growing up, every kid in my neighborhood went to the school up the street so for better or worse I have a bias for this type of set up. In my old boston neighborhood we had kids on the street going in 10 different directions attending 10 different schools, some private, some parochial, and the remainder dispersed to various public schools via the lottery assignment system. In my opinion this negatively impacts the neighborhood social capital. From a kids point of view it can have a social impact as well.

I think Eastie and Charlestown are somewhat unique in that the schools do draw more from immediate neighborhoods due to their relative geographical isolation so the rozzy/West Roxbury experience may not be appropriate for those neighborhoods. For example, it is my understanding that the walk zone set aside preference is higher for east boston than the rest of the city because of transportation logistics.

If you're committed to staying in the city I think that is great. Over the years the trend has been for more young families wanting to stay in the city and probably more are staying in the city for the long haul. Unfortunately, I think the city is still losing a lot of people once the kids approach about five years old though. In my old hood, some families left before trying the lottery assignment system feeling the whole thing was too needlessly complex, others moved after a year or so after the lottery failed to deliver a school choice the parents were comfortable with. I think as a parent you probably have to work quite a bit harder than the suburban peer to ensure your child is placed at a satisfactory school. In the end, there are good schools in Boston and they are turning out plenty of happy well adjusted young adults after 12 years. However for me with a relatively large family, 3 kids, the main issue was potential tuition costs for middle/high school coupled with the uncertainty over the lottery assignment for elementary schools pushed us over the city line.
 

choo

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

Remember that building over the garage in the back bay? Good times.

[valid and important discussion but wrong thread for it]
 

belmont square

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Re: Back Bay Garage Tower (Dartmouth and Stuart)

We just weren't willing to gamble the kids education for a few years to show commitment to living in the city. Their education is more important.
I guess I don't understand what this means. As others note, many urban schools "perform poorly" because they are educating a lot of children who aren't getting support at home, or are struggling with a new language because they are from another country. I suspect my children are excelling in BPS because of the support they get at home and the emphasis my wife and I place on education. The same reason your kids are likely to excel (wherever you end up sending them).

But I view my kids' education as the total package--in addition to school, living in a diverse urban environment where we don't need a car to get around and where they are exposed to immigrants, the elderly, college students, childless adults, the very wealthy, and a range of races, ethnicities, and income levels (in addition to a smattering of middle class white families like us).

What message do our children absorb when, because we are financially able, we move to suburban environments that we profess to disdain, simply so they can be educated in a homogenous school system that does not expose them to the range of realities they will face in adulthood (only to return to the city as empty nesters as soon as their school years are over)?
 

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