This 184 unit project in Boston's South End between Washington St and Harrison Ave was built in 2003 by the Archdiocese of Boston on 2 acres of land owned by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The project includes 277 underground parking spaces (1.5 spaces per unit).
While the density of Rollins Sq is much greater than Charlesview's proposal, the more relevant comparison is with the zoning code for each neighborhood and the surrounding buildings. Rollins Sq meets the requirements of Article 64 of Boston's Zoning Code, which sets a height limit of 70 feet and it matches nicely many of the surrounding buildings.
Charlesview proposes buildings more than 40-100 feet tall, unlike anything in the area and in clear contradiction to the Allston/Brighton zoning in Article 51 that sets a 35 foot limit.
One thing Charlesview and Rollins Sq have in common is that they both have the same architect from the same firm, Chris Hill from CBT.
Rollins Sq won the John M. Clancy Award for socially responsible housing in 2006. The jury noted that the six-story buildings and four-story townhomes "fit well within its mid-rise neighborhood". It also received a Maxwell Award from the Fannie Mae Foundation for outstanding development of affordable housing and an award from the Boston Preservation Alliance.
Rollins Square has a much larger amount of housing for moderate income residents than what is proposed for Charlesview. Cardinal Bernard Law, as described in The Pilot, was especially concerned about “the people who run the city” such as teachers, firefighters and public works employees. “He was concerned that they couldn’t afford to live in Boston.” We have heard the same concern in Allston and Brighton, that there is subsidized housing and market-rate housing, but not much of anything in between for people making a decent living but unable to compete with absentee landlords and others able to afford a $400,000 home.
According to The Boston Globe:
"Buyers of low-income units were required to be first-time homebuyers, with income of less than $40,800 for a single person, or $58,300 for a family of four. Moderate-income buyers were required to have annual income up to $62,350 for a single person, and $89,050 for a family of four.
The prices initially set for the low-income units ranged from $141,400 for a one-bedroom to $170,000 for a three-bedroom. Moderate-income units were priced from $210,000 for a one-bedroom to $260,000 for a three-bedroom unit. Market-rate units were sold at whatever the market could bear, between $265,000 and $970,000."
The income break-down is:
Market rate: 40%
Moderate-income first-time homebuyers: 40%
Low-income residents: 20%
The Charlesview proposal creates a segregated community with low-income residents in apartments on the south side of Western Ave and wealthier homeowners on the "good" side of the Western Ave on the Telford St site. Builder Magazine describes a different approach taken in Rollins Square to provide the same high-quality homes to everyone, regardless of their income.
"WHEN THE STATED GOAL IS to provide mixed-income housing, the end result often makes it clear just who lives where. Not so with Rollins Square, an unusual 184-unit community in Boston's South End, where low-income tenants enjoy the same design standards and amenities as those who paid market-rate prices for their condominiums.
“Our client wanted to raise the bar on standards for affordable housing,” architect Christopher Hill says in reference to the Archdiocese of Boston, “and at the same time create a truly social invigorating community. We didn't create separate styles for separate categories of residents.”