Newton Infill and Small Developments

Equilibria

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Design options for the Franklin School - along with Lincoln Eliot and Countryside the subject of the Mayor's proposed override:


This seems like they're railroading toward the new construction option, which would be a shame. The Franklin School is a lovely building that only looks better against the sketch planning HMFH has done for anything new:

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It takes a special kind of architectural arrogance to look at that pleasing brick facade and go "yeah, I'm okay smashing my uneven window panel trash right next to that. The only thing better would be if they let me tear it down so that I can go all LEEROY JENNNKINNS":

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Tin shed cladding, baby! Booyah! Suck it, neighborhood!
 
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Equilibria

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I see no reason to partner with a developer for this. Buy it and conserve it, the same way the City did with the Webster Woods. Landbank it for a new Middle or High school some day. Maybe put an access road through it to Route 9 so that NSHS traffic can be pulled off of all the neighborhood streets.
 

Equilibria

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I see no reason to partner with a developer for this. Buy it and conserve it, the same way the City did with the Webster Woods. Landbank it for a new Middle or High school some day. Maybe put an access road through it to Route 9 so that NSHS traffic can be pulled off of all the neighborhood streets.
City got 9 responses. Nice of them (or Fig City News if they made this) to post them all.

 

sm89

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I filtered through some of the responses. This is more of a general comment about public feedback, but is it really customary for people to use their job's letterhead to recommend things on their behalf? I noticed it the most in the Stumpo response. People with varying unrelated non-development-field positions at Harvard, Beth Israel, etc. All written as residents not in any job-related capacity.
 

Equilibria

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I filtered through some of the responses. This is more of a general comment about public feedback, but is it really customary for people to use their job's letterhead to recommend things on their behalf? I noticed it the most in the Stumpo response. People with varying unrelated non-development-field positions at Harvard, Beth Israel, etc. All written as residents not in any job-related capacity.
I filtered through some of the responses. This is more of a general comment about public feedback, but is it really customary for people to use their job's letterhead to recommend things on their behalf? I noticed it the most in the Stumpo response. People with varying unrelated non-development-field positions at Harvard, Beth Israel, etc. All written as residents not in any job-related capacity.
Yeah, I noticed that. Almost certainly would not be okay with those employers if they found out, and makes her look less serious.
 

jms13

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City got 9 responses. Nice of them (or Fig City News if they made this) to post them all.

Buried in the mayor's newsletter's last week, out of the initial responses, the city is moving forward with additional discussions on the NOW/Civico proposal, pending everything that was originally up in the air (discussions with the current owners, further analysis, etc).

It seems generically fine? I dunno, I follow Newton development and the related politics pretty closely, but I'd also be pretty happy to never cross to the south of Rt 9 again, and this spot is always going to be car dependent, so for me personally this is more interesting in the abstract as a potential south side development (with the common discussion in city politics about how everything is going up here on the north side) than it is as a specific proposal.
 

Equilibria

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Buried in the mayor's newsletter's last week, out of the initial responses, the city is moving forward with additional discussions on the NOW/Civico proposal, pending everything that was originally up in the air (discussions with the current owners, further analysis, etc).

It seems generically fine? I dunno, I follow Newton development and the related politics pretty closely, but I'd also be pretty happy to never cross to the south of Rt 9 again, and this spot is always going to be car dependent, so for me personally this is more interesting in the abstract as a potential south side development (with the common discussion in city politics about how everything is going up here on the north side) than it is as a specific proposal.
Well, that's not going to assuage the belief that the Mayor has her thumb on the scale for density on the north side and not near her house.

A generic suburban subdivision? Really? No density? No access road to Route 9 to keep NSHS traffic off of neighborhood streets? Just a subdivision straight out of 1949? I'd rather keep it as woods than do this with it.

I will grant that these are not single-unit "cottages" and they're proposing up to 125 total units, but come on.

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FK4

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Well, that's not going to assuage the belief that the Mayor has her thumb on the scale for density on the north side and not near her house.

A generic suburban subdivision? Really? No density? No access road to Route 9 to keep NSHS traffic off of neighborhood streets? Just a subdivision straight out of 1949? I'd rather keep it as woods than do this with it.

I will grant that these are not single-unit "cottages" and they're proposing up to 125 total units, but come on.

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Astounding lack of vision seems to dominate. It is quite baffling, really, that after so many decades of research and clear evidence that auto centric urban planning has killed the planet and led to massive social isolation with all of the attendant social, medical, and psychiatric ills being greatly influenced in the wrong directions because of it, and yet we STILL see shit like this. Didnt Joni Mitchel write a song about this in 1970? Literally nothing has been learned. It's all quite simple, though -- whenever something doesnt make sense, follow the money. That's all NIMBYism fundamentally boils down to. If you don't like your new neighbors or your new, shittier view, you cant sell your home for as much if you decide to get out of town. Money drives everything. It's the only factor that explains how something this retrogressive could be a straight faced proposal in 2023, 8 decades after the dawn of urbanism research and in one of the most "enlightened" and highly educated cities on the planet.
 

Justbuildit

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It's the only factor that explains how something this retrogressive could be a straight faced proposal in 2023, 8 decades after the dawn of urbanism research and in one of the most "enlightened" and highly educated cities on the planet.
Regarding the last part, I think it’s worth remembering that the suburbs are NOT Boston. In some ways suburbs define themselves in no way other than “not the city”. I agree with you that this development is laughable but really what else would you expect from Newton or other similar suburbs that fashion themselves on their aesthetic appeal (and schools) more than anything else? Changing the minds of zoning and neighborhood boards in suburbs is a super tough lift, and after a certain point they get the sprawl and inefficiency they deserve.
 

Equilibria

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Regarding the last part, I think it’s worth remembering that the suburbs are NOT Boston. In some ways suburbs define themselves in no way other than “not the city”. I agree with you that this development is laughable but really what else would you expect from Newton or other similar suburbs that fashion themselves on their aesthetic appeal (and schools) more than anything else? Changing the minds of zoning and neighborhood boards in suburbs is a super tough lift, and after a certain point they get the sprawl and inefficiency they deserve.
It's also worth remembering that Dudley Road is just about the most expensive road in Newton to live on. It's all mansions, it's very narrow (and nearly rural-looking), and it's the only direct connection between Route 9 and Brookline Street, which means that people are justifiably terrified that it could become a cut-through from Route 9 all the way to Route 128. Those neighbors are very rich and very motivated.
 

JeffDowntown

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It's also worth remembering that Dudley Road is just about the most expensive road in Newton to live on. It's all mansions, it's very narrow (and nearly rural-looking), and it's the only direct connection between Route 9 and Brookline Street, which means that people are justifiably terrified that it could become a cut-through from Route 9 all the way to Route 128. Those neighbors are very rich and very motivated.
Exactly why our current zoning and approval process does not create enough housing. Motivated NIMBYs.
 

Justbuildit

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On reflection it’s pretty lucky that the richest people in Boston proper also happen to live on some of the densest and most intensely used land in all of New England. Beacon Hill, Back Bay and the South End, apart from being historically protected (which they should be) hardly have a scrap of empty space that would be worthy of new development. Contrast this to suburbs or San Francisco and it’s pretty stark.

In any case, breaking through in Newton is pretty unlikely except for maybe more TOD near the green line and commuter rail.
 

FK4

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On reflection it’s pretty lucky that the richest people in Boston proper also happen to live on some of the densest and most intensely used land in all of New England. Beacon Hill, Back Bay and the South End, apart from being historically protected (which they should be) hardly have a scrap of empty space that would be worthy of new development. Contrast this to suburbs or San Francisco and it’s pretty stark.

In any case, breaking through in Newton is pretty unlikely except for maybe more TOD near the green line and commuter rail.
I think it's the worst of all possible designs from every standpoint you can name. I would be very fine with having it remain open space, first off, and I dont think that's a bad outcome. Yeah, we need tons more housing but we don't have to be hellbent to develop every piece of land. Big open tracts of land, in my view, should essentially have a moratorium on any development. This tract, Allandale, that parcel off Rockwood in JP, all of these should have just become open space. Single chunks of land dont make or break regional housing issues; regional housing policies do.

Anyway, this isn't just wasteful use, but it's tawdry and tacky. I spent a big portion of my childhood in Newton (I went to Bowen, which I never really realized was so close to this site until seeing Equilibria's post -- when you're in Newton Ctr (or "Thompsonville", which nobody calls that area except maps), Dudley St and Oak Hill are a world away. And ever since childhood I hated the Oak Hill neighborhood. It's gross. Purposefully winding roads that have no reason to be there, dont take you anywhere, and are thrown about in a sort of 1950s style of wannabe whimsy -- this is the kind of boring, bland suburb you get in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix... not Boston. And I would think that as a country, at least in this area, we have finally started to realize how horrid this sort of development style is. What's proposed is just a slightly denser version of shitty suburb cul-de-sac. It's Levittown but condo style. It's Long Island for rich Democrats. It really would be better, at least a lot less aesthetically insulting, to just build one estate style mansion and sell it to Elon Musk than the ideologically bankrupt proposal here.
 

curcuas

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Lol, it's insane how many fewer buildings are here than the generic subdivisions and subdivided lots nextdoor as you can see from the satellite map.
 

mass88

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How do you have such a large plot of woods in a city like this? This whole area is filled with conservation areas, does anyone benefit from these areas?
 

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