Affordable units on the way out – The Bay State Banner

Developer James McClure (left) appears before the Zoning Appeal Board with architect James Christopher and lawyer George Morancy in 2019.

Neighbors in the Fields Corner area were concerned in 2019 when they learned that developer James McClure was planning a six-unit condominium on a plot of land zoned for a three-unit building.

McClure, who in 2017 built a triple story on land ceded by the city in Arcadia Park for use as open space, had previously raised a red flag in the Dorchester Panhandle near the Fields Corner MBTA stop. For this go-around, McClure would have to appeal to the Zoning Appeal Board for several zoning overrides to allow insufficient setbacks, excessive height and excessive floor space ratios.

Neighbors, through the Department of Neighborhood Development, negotiated a deal with McClure: in return for neighbors’ support for the deviations, McClure would agree to sell two of the six units at affordable rates.

Ultimately, McClure agreed to designate one unit affordable for 80% of the region’s median income and another for 120% of the region’s median income.

But when the units sold out last year, affordability was not in the equation.

Unit 1, a 900-square-foot three-bedroom unit that McClure agreed to sell for $ 257,500, sold for $ 450,000, according to deed registry records. Unit 3, a two-bedroom unit that McClure agreed to sell for $ 398,000, was listed briefly at that price, then re-listed and sold for $ 445,000.

“I was surprised and disappointed,” said Vivian Girard, who, as president of the Fields Corner Civic Association, helped negotiate affordable units with McClure, who did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Developer James McClure has promised members of the Zoning Appeal Board that he will sell two of the six units at 24 Arcadia Park at affordable rates. All were sold at market rate.

McClure isn’t the first developer to give up on its commitment to building affordable units. In November, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) sued Eighty Five Willow Court LLC for selling at market rates two units that developer Patrick Cibotti had agreed to sell at prices affordable for people earning 80% and 100%. of the region’s median income. The median income for the region in 2019 was $ 71,115 for an individual.

The BPDA, which manages community benefits, including affordable units, on projects over 80,000 square feet, performs sales audits to ensure developers are keeping their word on affordability.

The development of McClure’s 24 Arcadia Park, a smaller project, fell under the purview of the Department of Neighborhood Development. Girard wants the city to seek redress from McClure to help build more affordable units in the neighborhood and investigate the issue.

“They should conduct an audit to see how this happened,” he said. “They should take action to fix it. “

The push from neighbors for affordable units comes as the area is in the midst of a boom in luxury condos and apartments. Across the neighborhood, small developers like McClure are building on vacant land, converting rental properties into condos, or demolishing to make way for new condominiums.

“We see it all over the neighborhood,” said Carolyn Chou, who is part of the affordable housing advocacy group Dorchester Not For Sale. “Every time a building is sold on one of our blocks, there is a conversion into condominium. I can look out the window and see the house across the street, which sold for $ 700,000 each.

Chou and others say condo conversions and the proliferation of luxury units are changing the makeup of the neighborhood.

“What they’re doing is reaching a better-off population,” said Davida Andelman, a longtime Dorchester resident. “It pushes people whose families have lived here for years. “

While Andelman says she and other elderly homeowners are bombarded with offers to buy their home, she bequeathed hers to the Boston Community Land Trust, which will keep it affordable in perpetuity. But with many of its neighbors, real estate speculators are finding easy bearings.

“The more the market continues to rise, the harder it is for some people to say ‘no’,” she said.

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