High-Density Housing on New Street: A Terrible Idea

A stroll down New Street — walk at your own risk!

It’s already a challenge to walk (or cycle) from the Sozio rotary along New Street without facing off against cars, but a largely car-free lifestyle is the vision driving a developer’s plan to construct 93 rental units at 75 New Street (see sp286 plans), currently the site of JC Adams Windows (photo below). The proposed new building would be next door to the same developer’s recently assembled 54-unit rental building known as Park 87. (I say “assembled” because this developer favors in modular pre-fab construction.)

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Site of proposed 93-unit building

The plan calls for only 94 parking spaces for 93 units. Street parking along a short stretch of New Street (on the Danehy side) is limited to 2 hours, so any additional cars would park…where exactly? (Likely, in the Danehy lot which is supposed to be for park users only.) Those spots are already full at peak hours (weekend mornings and early evening) due to overflow from Evolve Fitness, which is located opposite the JC Adams site.

Cars parked along New St make the road too narrow for 2-way traffic

Cars parked along New St make the road too narrow for 2-way traffic

Cars are regularly parked on and across the sidewalks along New Street. It is impossible to walk the length of the street without stepping out into the road. There are no bikes lanes on New Street either, and when cars are parked on the street the road narrows to a single lane of traffic.

Cars regularly block the sidewalks along New Street

Cars regularly block the sidewalks along New Street

Residents of 75 New Street will be given incentives to use public transport, but good luck getting safely to and from Alewife, a 15-minute walk across the parking lot of the Fresh Pond cinema and shopping center without any sidewalk separation to protect them from cars zipping through the lot. Without clearly marked lanes, the lot is the Wild West for drivers, too. And who would be foolhardy enough to attempt this walk after dark?

New Street ends at the shopping center parking lot

New Street ends at the shopping center parking lot

For drivers, the only escape from New Street leads smack into the dangerous and often gridlocked Sozio rotary (right turn only onto the parkway toward Alewife or left onto overbuilt Bay State Road to cut through residential neighborhood streets back to Concord Ave). To avoid the rotaries, many drivers already cut through the shopping center parking lot, which isn’t a proper road, to go west on Route 2, or to get back on Concord Avenue toward Belmont by going under the parkway bridge and cutting through the Trader Joe’s parking lot. Ironically this shortcut to Belmont drops drivers right on the doorstep of the same developer’s project on Wheeler Street and Concord Avenue (66 modular units are being stacked right now). But according to the traffic department’s study, neither of these two new buildings at known choke-points will have a negligible impact on traffic. Go figure.

The planning board will review the developer’s application for special permits for this project on Tuesday, March 4 at 8 pm at City Hall Annex (344 Broadway).

Please sign a petition to deny permits for this project.

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