Brookline to developer: affordable housing is fine, just not in our town

Developer Roth Family, LLC proposed a six story, 45 unit apartment building, nine of which would be affordable, in the Coolidge Corner area of Brookline. The project would have just 17 parking spaces, but the site at 40 Centre Street is a short walk from the C Line stop at Coolidge Corner, close to the 66 bus route, walkable to Allston Village and the neighborhood is well-served by grocery stores, restaurants, gyms, cafes and even a bookstore and movie theater.

40 Centre St

Currently, the 10,889 square foot site is home to an old two story brick building used for medical offices. The project is being partially financed by the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency and the affordable apartments will be for people or families making 50 percent of the area median income.

However, old habits die hard and despite acknowledging the need for new housing supply and affordable housing in Brookline, the Board of Selectmen has pulled out all the stops in opposing it. In March they sent a letter which, among other things, described the amount of parking as “grossly inadequate” despite the fact that more parking would not accord with Smart Growth ideas and lamenting the fact that an old brick building has to be torn down for new housing instead of being built on non-existant greenfield space.

The Board also suggested that the project be age-restricted to tenants 55 and up, reasoning that Coolidge Corner is “an ideal location for seniors given the range and abundance of services that are provided”, except that young people need housing as much as old people and the mixed uses and public transportation in Coolidge Corner make it an ideal location for everybody.

All of the Brookline solons’ suggestions were aimed at making the building smaller and more expensive to build (and therefore to rent). It puts the lie to the idea that the Board has any interest in affordable housing. It’s a study in prevarication.

The Brookline Planning Board will discuss the project June 2.

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