Park, Beach, And Traffic Alert Due To Weather

Boston Councilor Frank Baker posted the alert below on his Facebook page about park, beach, and road closures given the approaching storm:

“Starting tonight, March 1, 2018, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will close all coastal beach reservations, parks, and parking areas, all campgrounds statewide, all agency operated ice rinks and the Cass Recreation Complex, and several parkways in the Greater Boston area, until further notice. Additionally, parking bans will be implemented on Friday, March 2, 2018, at 8:00 AM at the following locations: Hull Shore Drive and Nantasket Avenue in the Town of Hull, Quincy Shore Drive in the City of Quincy; Revere Beach Boulevard in the City of Revere, and Winthrop Shore Drive in the Town of Winthrop. The upcoming closures are due to a forecasted Nor’easter that is expected to deliver heavy precipitation, potential coastal and inland flooding, and strong wind gusts.

WHERE: All coastal beach reservations, parks, and parking areas statewide at 6:00 PM this evening; all campgrounds statewide at 6:00 PM this evening; and all DCR operated ice rinks and the Cass Recreation Complex at 11:00 PM this evening. The following parkways have been scheduled to close or will close if necessary on Friday, March 2, 2018:

  • Morrissey Boulevard in the City of Boston from Freeport Street to UMASS (9:00AM);
  • Morrissey Boulevard in the City of Boston from Neponset Circle to Freeport Street (if necessary);
  • Nahant Causeway in the Town of Nahant (if necessary);
  • Nahant Road/Lynn Shore Drive rotary in the Town of Nahant (time to be determined);
  • Nantasket Avenue/Hull Shore Drive and extension in the Town of Hull (time to be determined);
  • Quincy Shore Drive in the City of Quincy (9:00AM);
  • Revere Beach Boulevard and Ocean Avenue in the City of Revere (if necessary);
  • William Day Boulevard in the City of Boston (9:00AM);
  • Winthrop Shore Drive in the Town of Winthrop (time to be determined); and,
  • Winthrop Parkway in the Town of Winthrop at Short Beach (5:30AM).

Parking bans on Friday, March 2, 2018 starting at 8:00 AM: Hull Shore Drive and Nantasket Avenue in the Town of Hull, Quincy Shore Drive in the City of Quincy; Revere Beach Boulevard in the City of Revere, and Winthrop Shore Drive in the Town of Winthrop

WHEN: Beginning on Thursday, March 1, 2018, until further notice.”

Dot Block Project: Construction Update

Artist rendering of Dot Block buildingWork proceeds on the massive Dot Block project. For the latest information, I contacted Catherine O’Neill, a spokesperson for the project, who provided project updates previously. She informed me via e-mail (links added):

“The new temporary fence is almost completed and we have begun to cut and cap the utilities – this will take approximately three weeks – we began Tuesday on Dorchester Avenue, then will proceed to Hancock, then Pleasant then Greenmount – when completed the demolition will begin – I’m thinking the buildings will start coming down second week of March… the subcontractor doing the cut and cap is Metro Equipment Corp and the demolition contractor is Vinagro.”

According to the approved BPDA Board memo in 2016:

“The Project site is comprised of four existing parcels totaling 172,023 square feet (3.9 acres) of land, and bounded by Greenmount Street to the North, Dorchester Avenue to the East, hancock Street to the South, and Pleasant Street to the West. The Site excludes the South corner piece of the city-block bounded by Hancock Street and Dorchester Avenue, as well as the North-East corner piece of the block at the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Greenmount Street.

The Site currently includes 4 existing 2-story buildings which are all vacant and in poor condition; an auto-body shop, a private way (Greenmount Place) off Greenmount Street, which is expected to be incorporated into the Site; and a 15-foot City of Boston Sewer Easement tht runs through a portion of the Site from Dorchester Avenue to Pleasant Street. The existing buildings will be demolished to enable the Proposed Project to be constructed… DOT BLOCK LLC proposes to develop an approximately 388,400 gross square foot development containing approximately 362 residential units, approximately 37,000 square feet of new retail space on Dorchester Avenue and a 5-story 450 parking space garage. The proposal calls for five buildings ranging from four to six stories in height…”

For more information, visit the Dot Block project page at the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) site.

How Your Neighbors View Glover’s Corner Development

BPDA. Map area studied for Glover's Corner DevelopmentThe Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held a “Community Conversation” meeting on January 10th about the Glover’s Corner development project. During the meeting, the BPDA distributed an updated Glover’s Corner Plan document (Adobe PDF) or data packet, for everyone to use when preparing for upcoming meetings during 2018:

“The data included here focuses on existing conditions of demographics, housing, and businesses in the study area, Dorchester, and Boston. At the upcoming workshops, we will collectively review this information to discover patterns and trends around housing and jobs in the PLAN: Glover’s Corner study area. We will then use what we discover to establish shared values around housing, businesses, and jobs as a baseline for future conversations. We will also continue to work together to identify additional neighborhood data we will need for future conversations… This spring, the City’s planning team is proposing to take a deeper dive into understanding current housing and jobs conditions and have a dialogue to establish values, needs and wants of the Glover’s Corner community in the future. We will use the feedback and questions from the January 10 community conversation to inform the content and structure of these future conversations.”

The document included findings organized into “Fast Facts” and charts. Some notable Fast Facts:

  • “By 2010, the population of Non-Hispanic Asians (mostly Vietnamese) in Glover’s Corner grew dramatically and became the largest racial/ethnic group, at 39%. Today that is estimated to be at 43%. 32% of households in Glover’s Corner speak an Asian language at home, most likely Vietnamese.
  • 22% of residents in Glover’s Corner have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, compared to 47% in Boston. 28% of residents In Glover’s Corner have not completed high school, compared to 14% in Boston.
  • 27 percent of households in Glover’s Corner are homeowners, compared to 34% in Dorchester and 35% in Boston. In 2000, home ownership was higher in Glover’s Corner, at 35%. The decline occurred between 2000 and 2010, with a slight recovery from 2010 to 2016.
  • From 2000 to 2016, average gross rents (when adjusted for inflation) increased from $971 to $1,112 in the Glover’s Corner area, an increase of 15%, compared to 22% in Dorchester and 20 percent in Boston. In 2016, average rents in Glover’s Corner were 21% cheaper than for the city as a whole… 27% or renting households in Glover’s Corner are considered severely burdened and pay more than 50% of their income to rent, compared to 30% in Dorchester and 25% in Boston.
  • Median sales prices for all condominiums and 1- to 3-unit properties for 2017 (through 12/15/2017) in the Glover’s Corner area increased to $400,000, compared to $495,000 for Dorchester, and $600,000 for Boston. In Glover’s Corner, 67% of homes had self-reported home values at less than $400,000, compared to 63% of Dorchester
    homes, and 46% of Boston homes. The median home value in Dorchester was $351,946, 17% less than the citywide median value of $423,200…”

Other notable findings included estimates by housing type and by income level of the number of households at risk of displacement, and the results of a survey of local businesses which identified the neighborhood factors businesses find appealing about Glover’s Corner. The factors in rank order:

  1. Diversity – 71%
  2. Affordability – 65%
  3. Transit Access – 65%
  4. Strong Community – 65%
  5. Surrounding Businesses – 60%
  6. Visibility – 60%

The data packet document also included definitions about key terms used in the findings (e.g., Census Block Groups, Demographics, Income-Restricted Housing, and Housing Vouchers).

After the meeting, the BPDA posted on its site the feedback it received during the meeting from attendees. You can view the actual hand-written feedback (Adobe PDF) by residents and stakeholders on “Hope Cards.” Several themes seem to emerge from the feedback: community input throughout the entire process, affordable housing for lower-income residents, all development has parking, permanent jobs for local residents, responsible hiring by businesses, no displacement of current residents, programs for youth, and improved traffic flow on Dorchester Avenue.

UMass Boston: Parking Fees Going Up

The Boston Globe reported:

“UMass Boston students and staff can expect to pay more to park on campus, as some rates will increase by at least 50 percent at the end of the current semester, the university announced Friday. Currently, parking at the school for a day costs $6, a rate that will continue throughout the spring semester. Under the new rate structure, daily parking at the university’s lot at the former site of the Bayside Expo Center will cost $9, and parking at a new, 1,400-space garage and other campus lots will be $15, according to a letter from Kathleen Kirleis, the vice chancellor for administration and finance at UMass Boston, sent to the school’s community.”

It will be interested to see what the consequences will be. Will more students attempt to park (for free) in nearby residential areas?

Local Rite Aid Store Now Part Of Walgreens Chain

Walgreens storres logoSome area residents have received letters via postal mail from the Walgreens store chain about changes at a local store:

“… We’d like to inform you that your neighborhood Rite Aid store at 1100 Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester is now part of Walgreens. Over the next two years we’ll be converting stores owned by Walgreens and installing new systems. In the meantime you’ll continue to earn wellness+ and Plenti points, and you’ll receive the same great service from the same trusted pharmacy staff.

The first change you’ll notice is that your store now has a Walgreens pharmacy, and we accept most insurance plans. Please call 617-282-3069 or stop by to fill your next prescription. Our website and app will be unable to process prescriptions at this store during the transition, but we’ll be happy to assist you.

It’s important to us that you always receive attentive service and get your questions answered. In an effort to ensure your care is continued and coordinate any upcoming prescription needs, Walgrees may call you. If you prefer not to be contacted, please call 866-312-8654.

Our team looks forward to continuing to serve you and your pharmacy needs.

Your Rite Aid Pharmacy Team”

The letter did not include a date nor name a specific person within Walgreens. According to a pamphlet enclosed with the letter, the signage and “store transition is expected to take up to three years.”  The pamphlet also provides answers to common questions about the transition.

Rite Aid has sold about half of its stores. Forbes magazine reported last week that Rite Aid is restructuring itself to profitability and has:

“… transferred 625 of its stores to Walgreens Boots Alliance as part of a larger deal with the nation’s largest pharmacy chain. In all, Walgreens will over the next few months buy 1,932 stores and three distribution centers from Rite Aid for nearly $4.4 billion in cash. Rite Aid Monday said it has received $1.3 billion in cash… Before agreeing last September to buy 1,932 Rite Aids, Walgreens spent almost two years trying to buy all of Rite Aid before antitrust scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission that ultimately led to the deal’s undoing. As a smaller pharmacy chain, Rite Aid is focusing on eight states largely on the East and West Coasts…”

Neighborhood Associations In Dorchester

Last month, a news report by WBZ-TV, the local CBS affiliate in Boston, highlighted the civic engagement of many Dorchester residents. Civic engagement occurs in several ways, such as neighborhood associations. A partial list:

Some civic engagement is organized by issues, such as Dorchester Is Not For Sale and Boomerang Bags Boston. To find more groups, browse our Resident Resources page and the Neighborhood Guide by My Dorchester.

UMass Hired Broker To Sell Former Bayside Expo Center Site

The University of Massachusetts has hired a real estate broker to sell the former Bayside Expo site. According to the Dorchester Reporter:

“The University of Massachusetts will offer a select group of developers the chance to buy the former grounds of the Bayside Expo Center in Dorchester this year in a deal that could net the university a windfall sum. The university’s building authority has hired a commercial real estate broker — Newmark Knight Frank— to seek potential buyers or partners for the 20 acre waterfront parcel— prime Columbia Point real estate that UMass scooped up for $18 million back in 2010. The news of the broker was first reported by the Globe.”

Founded in 1929, Newmark Knight Frank (NKF) describes itself as:

“… one of the world’s leading commercial real estate advisory firms. NKF is operated by Newmark Group, Inc. (“Newmark”). Newmark is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “NMRK”. We provide a fully integrated platform of services to prominent multinational corporations and institutional investors across the globe, as well as to occupiers, owners and developers of real estate on a local, regional and national level. Newmark has more than 4,600 employees in over 120 offices across the U.S. Together with London-based partner Knight Frank and independently-owned offices, NKF’s 15,000 professionals operate from more than 400 offices in established and emerging property markets on six continents.”

Earlier this month, NKF completed the sale of 29 Crafts Street — a five-story office building — in Newton, Massachusetts, and the sale of of Stony Brook Office Park in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Boston Boomerang Bags Event This Weekend

Boomerang bags logoAnother Boston Boomerang Bags event is scheduled this weekend at the Stitch House on January 20th and 21st from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The event is to assemble more reusable bags as part of the local bag-share program. Mayor Walsh signed legislation in December banning single-use plastic bags.

According to the event announcement on Facebook:

“On the anniversary weekend of the Women’s March, this sew-a-thon will double as a “Resistitch” event. Creating bags helps our planet, AND, we’ll have opportunities to write postcards to elected officials, find ways to support progressives in the mid-term elections…”

Learn more at the Boomerang Bags website.

Proposed Development Plans For 959 Dot Ave

Image of proposed development at 959 Dot Ave

A brief note from Eileen, the Chair of the Planning Committee:

“Hi! Attached please find the plans for the Tom English bar/Dorchester Market site that were filed with the City this week. I direct your attention to page 2 of the document (page after cover sheet) for the zoning analysis and summary of violations. I quickly reviewed and to summarize:

  1. 5 Stories: 60.5’ in height
  2. Level 1: two commercial spaces – one for restaurant/bar and other for existing Dorchester Market
  3. 4 Levels of rental apartments: 38 Units, mostly studios and one-bedrooms
  4. Parking: 26 parking spots in the basement level, many of which appear to be tandem. Does not appear that they are considering stackable parking structures.”

Download the 959 Dorchester Ave Content Package (Adobe PDF, 4.4 MB). There is an abutters meeting scheduled for Saturday, January 20th.