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As it Happened: Harvard Commencement 2023
The Boston Planning and Development Agency approved a slew of affordable housing across four sites in Allston-Brighton last week, though some local artists took issue with the displacement of studio space.
All four developments are set to include affordable housing units, with three offering properties for ownership — together bringing nearly 500 new affordable residences to Allston-Brighton. The approvals come amid an affordable housing crisis in the neighborhood, which some residents have tied to Harvard’s Allston expansion projects.
The BPDA Board of Directors met on March 16 to review development plans and hear public comments from residents. The board approved projects at 1234-1240 Soldiers Field Rd., 119 Braintree St., 52 Everett St., and 75 Tremont St., as well as four developments outside Allston-Brighton.
The Davis Companies are set to invest $366 million into the redevelopment of 1234-1240 Soldiers Field Rd., the former home of the Boston Skating Club. The site will include three residential buildings, comprising around 450 residential units, with 148 units of affordable housing as well as retail space and a hotel.
Resident Leonid Ostrovskiy, who said he commutes past the property daily, supported the project, adding that the old building’s removal was long overdue.
“This site increasingly needs to be redeveloped and upgraded, as it’s an eyesore to the community,” Ostrovskiy said.
The development at 75 Tremont St. will incorporate approximately 82 affordable units, while the 52 Everett St. project, located in Allston Yards, will offer about 174 affordable housing units. Both are set to include new Bluebikes stations.
The project at 119 Braintree St. will include a 12-story building with lab, research, and office space and first-floor retail and restaurant space, as well as a seven-story residential building with a majority of affordable housing. The residential buildings will consist of roughly 88 rental units, 74 of which will be income-restricted.
During public comment for the 119 Braintree St. proposal, many local artists came forward, some supportive and others apprehensive.
David Jackel, who co-runs a video production company out of 119 Braintree St. with his wife, Shana Bethune, said he is concerned for the future of the arts in Boston.
“Shana and I were saddened to learn about the plans to demolish this special building and displace the unique community that’s thrived here for decades,” Jackel said. “We are also concerned that this project, and similar projects, will cause irreparable damage to the rich, artistic, and creative culture of Boston.”
Allston-Brighton artists have complained that local trends are driving out the neighborhood’s historic arts scene, with the displacement of several studio spaces in recent months. The neighborhood’s Sound Museum, a longtime rehearsal space for area musicians, announced plans in December 2022 to close as their building is replaced with a biotech research complex.
Nile S. Hawver, a Boston-area artist whose photography studio is being displaced by the 119 Braintree St. project, said in an interview that despite the inconvenience to him, he supports the creation of affordable housing.
“I’m a huge proponent for affordable housing and just housing in general. The city desperately needs it, but you know, obviously, the unfortunate byproduct of that is that I needed to find a new studio,” Hawver said.
Hawver added that developers should take into consideration the needs of local artists when designing new properties, explaining that most rental spaces are “not very large.”
“Anything that was suitable for my needs, or often the needs of artists, would be significantly larger than any one person could afford or need,” Hawver said. “Not the lack of artist space, but the lack of any space is a complication.”
—Staff writer Kate Delval Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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