Rosindale's Washington-Beech housing project - more questions about Charlesview

On Thursday, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development department (HUD) announced that it will contribute $20 million to the reconstruction of the 57 year old Washington-Beech housing project at the corner of Washington and Beech Streets in Rosindale.

Comparing this project with the Charlesview proposal leads to some questions:

Why are the Washington-Beech buildings shorter than the Charlesview buildings?

The Washington-Beech design has 3 and 4 story townhouse buildings, that will "fit seamlessly into Roslindale’s existing fabric" according to Boston Housing Authority Executive Director Sandra Henriquez. According to the City's Assessing website, the Washington-Beech site is 7.5 acres. The 200 units planned for this site will have a density of 27 units per acre.

The 4 to 10 story buildings in the Charlesview proposal will be much bigger than anything nearby in Allston and Brighton. The 10 story tower would be, by far, the tallest building not owned by Harvard. The 400 units that Charlesview proposes, on 6.9 acres, would have a density of 58 units per acre. That means the Charlesview proposal is more than twice as dense as the new Washington-Beech.

There is a huge need for more housing in Boston. So shouldn't new housing in Roslindale be as tall and dense as new housing in Brighton?

Today, there are 266 units at Washington-Beech complex. The redevelopment will create 336 affordable housing units, but only 200 of them will be at the Washington-Beech site. The other 136 units will be spread throughout the City of Boston.

Going in the opposite direction, Charlesview proposes to create a larger block of low-income apartments than what currently exists at Charlesview by increasing from 213 existing units to 282 new units at the Brighton Mills site.

If it is good to reduce the concentration of affordable housing in Roslindale, why is it good to increase the concentration of affordable housing in Brighton?

The $101 million Washington-Beech project will be funded by $50 million from private sources, $27 million from the City of Boston, the $20 million Federal grant, and $4.5 million from the State of Massachusetts. Was Charlesview one of the 29 applicants for a HUD HOPE VI grant?

Rozzy project redo -
Hope can revive an asphalt acre - The Boston Globe
HUD News Release
Current buildings


  1. Anonymous3:18 PM

    Charlesview is not a public housing authority and does not qualify for HOPE VI.

    From the HUD announcement, which one would hope to be the most authoritative, it would appear that 265 units will replace the 266 currently. The 265 are a combination of public housing and affordable rentals. In addition, construction of 71 new owner-occupied homes will be funded. The total number of new units (including replacement units) is 337.

    The HUD numbers differ from the Globe in several significant ways.

  2. The HUD report and the Globe agree that 265 rental units will replace the existing 266. 185 wil be at the current site and 80 will be somewhere else in Boston. From the Globe article:

    "Plans for the new development call for construction of 185 rental apartments and four townhouses that will be sold to owner-occupants at the site...the plan includes providing 80 rental-assistance subsidies for apartments elsewhere in the city"

  3. Anonymous3:50 PM

    Harry, I read what the Globe said.

    The Globe had fewer new owner-occupied housing units, and implied that rent subsidies (which are basically vouchers) were the equivalent of additional housing units (in the HUD release, which only housing units). A rent subsidy typically means that you would use the voucher to help defray the cost of renting out a apartment, such as a floor in a privately-owned three-decker.

    Another HOPE VI project in Boston recently opened. Its called Maverick Landing, nearly 400 units. Density is 88 units per acre.


  4. Marverick Landing in East Boston and Orchard Gardens in Roxbury are two other recent projects worth consideration.

    Density is of course not the only yardstick to use when comparing these projects, but it is interesting to think about why it varies so much from one project to another. Should there be a common expectation of density for all of Boston or should it vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood and project to project?

  5. Anonymous10:16 AM

    I don't believe there should be a common expectation of density for projects in Boston. Neighborhoods differ from one another, as do projects.

    One of the great appeals of the ten-story building proposed for Telford Street is that the building would offer wonderful views of the river and Harvard, thus making its apartments more attractive to people who would invest for the long term.

    I think that's a good thing for our neighborhood. Don't we want to have an attractive and appealing building whose condos will hold their value? It would seem a shame to scrap such a potential magnet for business and retail just because someone's doing something different in Roslindale. They're meeting their needs. Shouldn't we meet ours?

  6. Anonymous11:58 PM

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  7. Anonymous9:09 PM

    For Low Income Apartments, the United States and Canada, a commonly accepted guideline for housing affordability is a housing cost that does not exceed 30% of a household's gross income. Housing costs considered in this guideline generally include taxes and insurance for owners, and usually include utility costs. When the monthly carrying costs of a home exceed 30–35% of household income, then the housing is considered unaffordable for that household.

  8. Well, about time they factor in scenery and nature in the planning again, instead of deadened concrete. Sure, there's gonna be a lot more aspects and detail to juggle with, but worthy causes are all like that. Hope this pushes through, and does so with the meticulousness needed to pull this off.