By Stephen Quigley
At a community meeting of the Gove Street Citizens Assoc. (GSCA) regarding the proposed housing development at Frankfort + Gove Street, residents overwhelmingly voted against the newly-revised project.
There were 24 votes against and just two in favor. Following the vote, the results were forwarded to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). (See the full texts of the letters from the GSCA to the BPDA below.) Some of the public comments and concerns mentioned were as follows: “As an abutter, I urge the developers to consider the impact their proposed development will have on the neighborhood, not just their profits, and to prioritize building affordable housing that will promote investment in the community, rather than luxury rentals that will promote disinvestment in the community and contribute to the gentrification of East Boston, particularly because their proposed development directly abuts an elementary school.”
Another resident said, “I’m against more ‘luxury’ rentals. I would prefer to see affordable and mid-level housing.” One resident voiced concern over the size of the units. saying, “The majority of the proposed apartments are one bedroom….we need family-size housing.” According to the BPDA website the project originally was approved by the BPDA on March 14, 2019, and consists of the construction of 108 residential units and 84 off-street parking spaces. The project includes the following: (i) the demolition of two existing structures; (ii) the renovation and conversion of the former Mount Carmel Church into a residential building with approximately 14 units; (iii), the construction of a new, 5-story residential building with 94 units; (iv) 84 off-street vehicle parking spaces; and (v) new open/green space. The Notice of Project Change outlines the owner’s intention to convert the 94 housing units in the 5-story building from condos to rentals. The 14 units in the former church building would remain as condos. Currently, the project is under review by the BPDA. The next GSCA meeting is set for Monday, September 26, at 6:30. Participants are reminded to register for the September meeting which will take place virtually. The following are the full texts of the two letters from the GSCA to the BPDA. The first is as follows: The board of the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) wanted to submit the following comment regarding the Frankfort + Gove Street Housing Project: On July 25, 2022, the development team for the Frankfort + Gove Street Housing Project presented an overview of their project and their requested change of converting 94 of 108 housing units from condos to rentals at the GSCA monthly community meeting. This meeting was held on Zoom. Towards the end of this meeting, Jennifer White, a resident of the GSCA area who served on the Impact Advisory Group during the initial approval process for this project in 2018-2019, made the following remarks: “…being on an IAG (Impact Advisory Group) for a project that was going to be all condos, to now flip it to have the primary number of units be rentals is significant and that really changes the scope of the project…so I just wanted to go on the record to say that for our city officials. Thank you.” Soon after this comment was made, the chair of the meeting and GSCA board member, Neelesh Batra, asked attendees whether they agreed with the sentiment shared by Jennifer regarding the conversion of condos to rentals. 17 out of approximately 34 community residents who were still present on the Zoom call at the time indicated in the Zoom chat that they supported what Jennifer said. Given this, the GSCA Board believes it is reasonable to request that an analysis be completed outlining the impact that converting 94 of the 108 housing units in this project from condominium units to apartment rental units will have on the neighborhood and community. We believe that approval of the developer’s requested change should not be made until that analysis is complete, its results have been shared with the community, and the community has been given an opportunity to provide feedback. As part of this analysis we would be interested to know what this conversion would do to the owner-occupied to rental-occupied housing mix of the GSCA area. In addition to sharing feedback made by our community at our July 25 meeting, the GSCA Board would also like to express its own concerns with the project. 1. This project proposes 79 one-bedroom units and only 29 two-bedroom units. There are no proposed units with more than two bedrooms. This change favors 1-person households or couples over families and is a departure from the current composition of our neighborhood. 2. This project proposes converting nearly all units (94 of 108 housing units) from condos to rentals. Renters as a group are a more transient population than owner occupants, and therefore as a whole do not generally invest in the long-term of a neighborhood. 3. The community benefits agreement for this project is insufficient for the needs of the community. If you should need additional information, please do not hesitate to reach out. The second letter is as follows: This is to inform you that the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) has voted on the proposed changes to the Frankfort + Gove Street Housing Project to convert 94 residential units in the project from residential condominiums to rental units. The vote was conducted virtually August 16-19, 2022. The GSCA represents the residents of Ward 1, Precinct 2. Eligible voters, including abutters and previous attendants to GSCA meetings, voted to reject changes to the Frankfort + Gove Street Housing Project. The results of the vote follows: YES-2 NO-24 Public comments and concerns are as follows: –mAs an abutter, I urge the developers to consider the impact their proposed development will have on the neighborhood, not just their profits, and to prioritize building affordable housing that will promote investment IN the community, rather than luxury rentals that will promote dIsinvestment in the community and contribute to the gentrification of East Boston, particularly because their proposed development directly abuts an elementary school. — I’m against more “luxury” rentals. I would prefer to see affordable and mid- level housing. — The majority of the proposed apartments are one bedroom….we need family size housing. — We need more opportunities in this neighborhood for home ownership. — I think it’s more important for this project to get built as it will improve the look and feel of the neighborhood. If you should need additional information, please do not hesitate to reach out.