DEVELOPMENT OF AFFORDABLE HOMES FOR SENIORS

Protecting prime real estate from market-rate development

This Project is in Danger.
An Open Letter to our Community

May 26, 2021

Dear Community Members,

Over the last 44 years, JPNDC has collaborated with you and other partners to ensure that people without wealth have a place to call home in Jamaica Plain and other Boston neighborhoods. Working hand in hand, we have developed more than 1,100 affordable homes for seniors and families and helped hundreds of locally-owned small businesses to start, stabilize, and grow.

On May 11, we learned that two lawsuits are jeopardizing our newest project (see Boston Globe article here).

The plan for 3371 Washington Street, a partnership between JPNDC and New Atlantic Development, is to create 38 affordable homes for low-income seniors. These members of our community will have on-site services so that they can live with dignity and as much independence as possible as they age.

Nearly two-thirds of Boston’s single older adults face economic insecurity, according to researchers at UMass Boston’s Gerontology Institute. This gives Boston the dubious honor of having the second highest rate in the United States of economic insecurity among the elderly. Housing is a huge piece of this crisis. The typical waiting period for applicants for JPNDC’s existing senior buildings is five years.

Our project would also include space for El Embajador Restaurant, if the owners choose to reopen there after construction. El Embajador is where the community mobilization for the site began five years ago, when JPNDC and allies began working with the owners of the 25-year-old business to stop their displacement at the hands of a real estate speculator.

In early 2020, JPNDC and New Atlantic purchased 3371 Washington at market rate. After a 14-month community process engaging abutters and the community at large, we obtained permit approvals from the JP Neighborhood Council, Boston Planning and Development Authority, and the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals. Broad support for the project is reflected in 487 petition signatures and passionate testimony from dozens of JP residents during the six community meetings that we hosted.

With any proposed project, JPNDC is committed to working with abutters to address their concerns. We know from experience that it is possible to build affordable homes and be good neighbors. We are 100% committed to minimizing the impact of the 3371 Washington project on Turtle Swamp’s operations (learn more about our mitigation commitment).

We appreciate the tremendous support we have received from hundreds of residents regarding this project, and look forward to building it and continuing to advance our mission.

Sincerely,

Teronda Ellis
Chief Executive Officer

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If you want to support JPNDC and a more equitable Boston, a big way you can do so is by supporting our capital campaign to build the Center for Equity and Prosperity (and attend our June 17 event)!

You can also make a general donation here.

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Project Details

  • Purchased by JPNDC and New Atlantic Development on January 7, 2020

  • L-shaped parcel on Washington and Green Streets

  • Existing building is home to two small businesses, El Embajador Restaurant and DeChain Auto Service

  • Plans call for a new building with 38 100% affordable senior apartments and 1 unit for a live-in responder.

  • The ground floor is designed with restaurant space for El Embajador Restaurant if the owners decide to reopen the restaurant in this location after construction. If not, the first floor would be dedicated to services for senior residents (community room, exercise room, etc).

Process and Next Steps

  • Our Small Project Review Application was approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) on 1-14-21.

  • JPNC approved the zoning on 2-3-21.

  • The City of Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved this project on 2-23-21.

  • We will continue to work with the BPDA and other partners to finalize design.

Owners of El Embajador Restaurant

Background

  • El Embajador opened at 3371 Washington Street in 1991.

  • Affordability has declined rapidly along the Washington Street corridor. Along 13 blocks between Forest Hills and Egleston Square, more than than seven new developments with 900+ units—the vast majority of which are market-rate, with rents starting at over $2,300 for a studio—have gone into construction over the past six years.

  • 3371 Washington Street represents a victory for all the community members who pushed for higher affordable housing requirements in the JP/Rox planning process.

  • Many organizations and community members played a role. The City of Boston, especially Chief of Housing and Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development Sheila Dillon; attorney Gabriela Mendoza, City Life/Vida Urbana, Keep it 100% Egleston, Egleston Square Main Street, City Councilor Matt O’Malley, and State Representative Liz Malia.

Watch the rally video (Nov. 21, 2017)