Meeting on proposed 2072 Mass Ave project last night (9.29.20)


Audience Questions (A tough read, see pdf at the end):



Will our questions be view-able by other attendees?I can see your question.Please define affordable housing- what do you mean 100% affordable? no Mixed income?How does this project fit with current zoning? And how might the approved passage of AHO change, in any way?Who profits from these projects?What are the thresholds for “affordability”— are all the units going to be available at the same level of affordability, or is there a mixture of income level thresholds?are these rental or condo units?will there be parking?Parking for tenants included?Many new developments within .25 of a mile have empty brand new retail… concerned for a glut…?How many units and floors?In the examples you’ve shown a lot of green has been obliterate.  Is it possible to include some  landscapingWhat’s the height of Russell Apts?What considerations are being given to the neighborhood density? Pre-Covid our neighborhood was overrun by traffic and now you are adding 250 people to the Walden / Mass ave and probably another 50-70 cars coming and going. This will create further snarl and congestion in our neighborhood.Is the parking that you spoke about, ALL the parking that will be included in the construction?Where is trash pick up going to be located?Where will those cars be parked???
Also, the height of the building is quite dominant.How does the electric car charging figure into the parking plan?The lack of any reasonable parking seems problematic.  Will there be any limitations on resident parking permits for residents, or will this development simply be pushing 100+ onto neighboring streets?Only 3 parking spaces  for 49 apts ?Are you going to have a meeting with and for the residents of the Russell Apartments??Height of Henderson Carraige Building across Mass Ave?There are several empty Mass Ave retail spaces. Why add more space when we already have empty spaces1. This question has 2 parts:
A.. Because the Mass Ave/ Walden Street area is limited in street parking,  new buildings need to include parking for each unit or they will place unfair parking burdens on existing neighbors. The situation may not have been so pressing in April 2018 when Capstone purchased the 2072 Mass Ave property to develop, but it is now, and it will become even worse with the nearby developments in progress and when residents return after Covid19 subsides. With that additional important knowledge,  will you amend your plans and provide at least one parking space for each unit in the proposed development,  and

B.  To address the issue of the environment as a top value and priority, will you include a plan to provide easy access to electric car charging to encourage the use of electric cars?To me without parking to accomodate the residents there it’s a deal breaker. Where will the cars go? What is your (understandably optiistic) estimate for cars per unit? Thanks.The building comes up to the corner. This is a visibility issue for traffic coming - also “light and airy’ which you keep saying can scarcely describe this massive building.Traffic on Walden is already terrible as it is one of the only paths thru Cambridge to Mass Ave.  Rush hour creates many dangerous conditions as traffic backs up on Walden back to Garden.  This traffic creates dangerous condiitons as drivers g into oncoming traffic to turn on Mead.  What mitigation is planned to address this already bad situation?Will you also be saving the Q&A and Chat (little there yet, however)? Would be useful, esp. to read exchanges in detail later.Why does the Mass. Ave, sidewalk get narrower toward the corner?  How wide is it at the corner?Also it is not accurate to say that our area has ample green space. There was almost no green space on the map you showed. At least you should be accurate in your portrayal of the area.TDC per unit?? (“Total Development Cost”)Under standard zoning requirements, how many parking spots would usually be required for a 49 unit building of this size?   Why do you think that you deserve to skirt these rules?I live on Creighton Street.  We are experiencing a surge in the rat population.  I want to know what your rat control program will be before, during and after this development takes place.Birds fleeing the area?Most of the parking places  in the city parking are already in constant use by existing residents and would not mitigat the parking issues.Much bigger step-down in the back needed!I’m so glad it’s not red brick!How will you account for the effect of the pandemic while conducting your parking utilization study?How many 8 story buildings are there in north cambridge? My guess is less than 2.That roof looks gorgeous!How many non-presenters participating tonight?Can the retail spaces also be affordable to small scale Cambridge-based entrepreneurs?  There are numerous small companies that struggle to get started and struggle with commercial space rentsIs that correct orientation?Jason: "We anticipate having .5 cars per unit or +/-24 cars." 

That seems unrealistic.  WIll that be enforced somehow, for example only 24 resident permits issued by the city?Are the windows operable?  I hope they are.Don’t construction costs go up above 6 stories?? Why not stop at 6??There's a severe housing shortage in Cambridge, as demonstrated by the waitlist numbers given earlier. That's housing for people, not housing for cars (a/k/a parking).It appears that according to Trump’s tax returns he would have qualified. How do you filter for malfeasance?  Are lower income working people truly going to get these?What percentage of these units will be “affordable” and how are you defining that term?'@Alejandra and Winthrip Carty:
There are a lot of eligibility requirements to get government assistance for housing, these apartments will go to lower income peopleHow much green space will there be on the street level? What % of the land area will be taken up by the building?nice design. thank you for a thorough presentation. if you didn't have that retail could you explore adding more affordable housing? some other amenity?Will section8 be accepted (or only through the inclusionary housing?)…do you plan accessible units?Wrong. Who do you think drive Uber??It would be helpful as you progress the design if you could add images from the street of the rooftop equipment including the mechanical equipment and the solar PV and any screening that you would add if needed.yeah, except you don’t nor will you live here...Having lived with the traffic at it’s worst and the slowing during COVID we can tell you that traffic is only at 50% of it’s normal volume.  Hopefully people will change their driving habits and there will be less commuters post-COVID.  Also parking on Mead has not rebounded since the beginning of COVID.  right now we are not fighting for parking every day which is normally a challenge.

I would expect the city lot to be full all the time with residents of the bldg- not a negative, just a fact.Can there be a restaurant or cafe?The laws may permit this height; the neighborhood will be changed by this size - laws do not accommodate the reactions of local people and just because the apartments will be rented and the demand is there does not mean it must happen - and here.The issue is the traffic, not just the parking. Traffic was untenable to our neighborhood prior to Covid. Traffic backed up on Walden and then cut through traffic created a dangerous situation on Cogswell and Mead. This adds to congestion in our area. It will create even more traffic issues on Walden.What is status of restaurant lease and owners?It is a great site for this and as a teacher in the district I am strong advocate for this project AND please make sure that you address the traffic and parking because it is a mistake to assume potential residents won’t have cars.What is data on bikes???Saw monitoring wells being drilled, what were the results?If you didn't have to worry about parking or zoning, how tall of a building would you build? And how many more people would that house?This is a dangerous intersection for bikers (esp. turning left onto Walden from Mass Ave) and I suspect there will definitely be bikers in this building. I wonder if you’ve done any studies to take the safety of biking residents in the proposed building into account?What percentage of these units will be “affordable” and how are you defining that term?How will they assess parking needs during Covid?   There is plenty of parking now.  Not normallyJason, is this photo taken from Walden?this overhang approach is inconsistent with neighboring context; needs further elaboration/explanation.I work for an affordable housing non-profit - the Massachusetts Housing Coalition.

Let me start here - thank you. At a time when our entire housing system is in crisis, and we hear over and over again about the impending tidal wave of evictions as moratoriums lapse, this is a rare bright spot, and something that leaves me a bit more hopeful about the future of our Commonwealth.

Housing is not just a roof over one’s head. Housing is linked to, and intersects with, almost every important issue out there. Housing quality and stability affect educational outcomes. It affects economic opportunity, because it’s pretty hard to balance a job and an unstable housing situation. It affects climate change. And, more relevant now than ever, housing has an incredible effect on the health of individuals and families.

And we see the effects of a housing system stretched to its breaking point. Thousands applying for just a few vacancies. Housing stocks at all-time lows. Home values soaring.And while that last one may sound like a good thing, and is to a certain extent, it also means that each and every day, more and more hardworking folks are being priced out their own neighborhoods and the communities they’ve known, in some cases, for decades.

We need relief. We need more housing, and we especially need more affordable housing. This is a boon to people who need affordable, housing, sure, but it’s also a boon to the local economy. It benefits the local educational system. It benefits the health and wellness of our community.

To those of you speaking to a lack of parking, I’d urge you to reconsider your opinion. We should be doing our best to increase density and move away from individualized transport in light of our climate crisis. While covid-19 has pushed us to revert to traditional car-centric planning and thinking, this building will far outlast our current pandemic. As such, it makes sense to continue concentrating on reducing dependence on cars.This will also reduce traffic - another common issue in the comments here.

Thank you for investing, not just in Cambridge, not just in Massachusetts, but for investing in our future. I’m looking forward to seeing the redevelopment of 2072 Massachusetts Ave. come to fruition.the scale of the photo looks more from Mass Ave than accross from WaldenWill you plant street trees on both streets?  Is there room for large trees here?  It would help with cooling both the building and the sidewalks.So, in the interest of full disclosure, how much are the salaries of your top execs?we live at Walden and Mead and there is literaly only only a few spots in the surounding blocks.  On street cleaning days I have had to drive and park in Porter as there is ZERO spots for the 8 cars that park on the one side.  I know you are doing a study but as a resident I can tell you there is limited parking.  Are you looking at a more comprehensive parking plan for the whole surrorunding area?  BTW - we fully support the need for housing and the building looks beautiful.The parking at the corner lot now is experienced as “open” and should be reckoned with.I am excited about this project. This will bring housing and stability to many individuals and families.Thank you for taking the initiative to add more affordable homes in Cambridge. I think the building will add alot of vibrancy to the area. Good that you are thinking about affordable or community 1st floor retail space. Super low off street parking spaces is going to be hard for many to accept.Comment: I like the overall look of the building. I appreciate the material choices and I’m very happy it’s not red brick. I appreciate the sustainable components too. 1791 Mass Ave, just down Mass Ave, show the quality of the work you do. The need for affordable in the city is not in question and Covid has only made that worse. Ground floor retail issues are real and you do need a solid strategy. Wide sidewalks is a good idea for pedestrians and for vehicular visibility. As for height, it’s always worth engaging on that question, but it seems this is a relatively thin building and that should make it work ok in the context of Porter Sq. The point about transit-oriented in crucial. There are only so many of these sites possible in the city.the garden at st James’s is a substantial geen space that is being made  availabl to the communityJust a few comments and not a question from me. As a Cambridge resident, and the Executive Director of the non-profit Massachusetts Housing Coalition (MHC), and along with my colleague Sam Shoap, I’d like to offer my full support, as well as the full support of our coalition for this project.

Sean and Jason — I believe your group has set the standard for housing not just in Cambridge, but in Massachusetts, and that every resident in our city can and should stand behind this project.

Our coalition is the voice of the grassroots pro-housing movement in the Commonwealth. Instead of building barriers by using zoning regulations to stop homes from being built, MHC believes that we should encourage building homes for every income level, for every family, and in every neighborhood in Massachusetts.It’s been said many times that we are in a housing crisis. Our organization is responding directly to this crisis by advocating for brand new homes just like the ones being proposed at here. Our mission is to reduce the harmful influence of restrictive zoning regulations that have slowed production and increased housing inequality and insecurity. MHC recognizes that we must do better for our residents and for the people that need housing regulations to work for them, not against them.

Honestly, a very sincere thank you to Sean Hope, Jason Korb, and the Capstone Communities team for their vision and persistence in making this project a reality and prioritizing affordable housing for our community. There is no doubt that our organization and many others like it will be holding this as a model for future 100% affordable development and encouraging more like it throughout the state. Thank you again and congratulations on a very important project for our community!Your consultant recently conducted soil borings at the site. What was the outcome of this preliminary investigation and what further subsurface testing is being planned?Will you commit to saving and making transcript of Q&A available with recording? Would be helpful.Also want to add my household’s full support to the project. If me having to spend extra time finding a parking spot means 49 additional families have an affordable home it is 100% worth it!!Are two dropoff spots going to be adequate if you are going to have 40 or 50 deliveries from Amazon, supermarkets, Uber Eats, GrubHub, et al?How many kids do you anticipate? Where do they play?Really happy your team has taken on this challenge and will replace a 1970s style fast food restaurant sourrounded by asphalt with almost 50 units of housing that will improve the lives of people.You skipped my question! construction costs above 6 stories??There’s no “housing shortage in Cambridge.” That’s an absurd assertion.Yes, please answer Jarvis’ question. Six stories might make a big difference, aesthetically and in many other ways.I live on Walden Street and think the number of parking spaces is appropriate. Let’s choose people vibrancy of streetscape over cars! Also love the bike parking accommodations, which is in step with contemporary transportation trends.Who, exactly, are “the city”??For years, I've heard people say that they want 100% affordable developments (i.e., ALL units go to income-qualified households and are affordable forever because of deed restrictions).  For years, I've heard people say that density should be on Mass Ave and be near transit.  For years (but admittedly not as long), I've heard say they want Passive House (a forward-thinking energy standard for buildings).  I know there are questions, but as a starting point, this project has all 3 of the things people have been asking for.  I appreciate that, and appreciate the building design (e.g., the varied materials). I look forward to the community process to work on some of the details.  You did that with Frost Terrace near where I live.New research is coming out about the dangers of indoor air pollution and how good ventilation is important, especially in the time of covid. Have you thought about this?I like the bedroom sizes.  I like the income mix, which will allow very low income people as well as low income people.I would suggest instead of retail, you make that corner an active indoor play area for kids!  St james’s will have a great kitchen faciltity and open space.  I suggest you reach out to us to see what ourcurrent redevelopment project is offering the community and how the new Parish Hall facilities can compliment what you are offeringEchoing messages of support for this project. It's an aesthetic improvement over the existing building, helps address a key need in our community (more affordable housing), and I'm excited about the Passive House design. I live on Cogswell Ave (1 block over) and we park 2 cars on the street with no problems, even on street sweeping days. So I'm not concerned about parking.The city really needs to help attend to the trafffic either way.You skipped question on bikes! You speak of “data” on cars, but why not with bikes?? Where do your numbers for bike storage come from?? Or are bikes exempt from analysis in Cambridge now?Will you be addressing impact on the local rat problem before, rather than after construction begins?Cogswell neighbor here in support of this project. Agree with Jeanine’s points.Since demand is so huge, can you restrict tenants to not owning a car?I'm impressed overall by this proposal - but is there any way you can shrink it a little, in height, closeness to lot line/sidewalks  - and still make the finances work?Construction staging areas?How are you defining the “affordability” of these units? Missed the beginning of the presentation. Thanks!'@Jean Hermann: 8 units for up to 30% AMI, 41 units for up to 60% AMI.During construction, will you be blocking Mass Ave and/or Walden?Repeat and emphasize query about construction staging. Those of us who live along Walden have concerns about that too - the potential for disruption during construction.Just another quick comment for the record:

As far as parking, the next generation of tenants and homeowners have little use for single occupancy vehicles and therefore little need for parking spaces. Our environment is also desperately in search of relief from single occupancy vehicles - we should be helping in any way that we can to make residents LESS dependent on cars. When you allow more parking, more pavement, or any other way to squeeze in more cars, you always succeed in increasing traffic. More parking spaces equal more cars. As a result of these well-known and well-documented facts, we should be doing just what 2072 Mass Ave is proposing — reduce parking spaces. Parking requirements are a costly and outmoded infrastructure requirement. We can make affordable housing more affordable by lowering costs for great projects like this and helping our environment, too.... will you be blocking the sidewalks along Mass Ave and/or Walden?Skipped another one! We’re funding this with public money! - but don’t have a right to know salaries of execs??Where are the 50+ [bike?] parking spaces?  Is there a sub-basement?Please consider the seating/planting areas we have placed further down Mass Ave at Shephard and x from Garfield.
Happy to explore grant funding.Really do hope that this brings more families.  Good luck with the next stage of researching and working with the city to mitigate the issues that have come upYour concept of widening sidewalk that faces Walden is good; it is currently too narrow, especially during snow season, which pushes pedestrians into the very narrow Walden. Car entrance/exit will be tough from your designated driveway because there is usually a column of cars heading towards Mass on Walden.'@Dan Smith: 53 *Bike* Parking spaces will be in the basement, yeah. (Car parking is limited to ~accessible + pickup/dropoffs)You’re reading propaganda but not tougher questions from people who actually live here! BS.Or consider a year-round indoor farmer’s market for that corner retail spot. The neighborhood needs it.You might want to consider more drop off spaces.   Delivery vehicles cannot stop on Walden, and space on Mass Ave is a bus stop.That question about how many/where do the kid’s play was not a negative comment. Farmer's market or another non-profit use could (as suggested) be a great addition to the area.  Is it economicallly feasible for you to do something like that?It might be helpful to your presentation to include a photo of the building that existed on this corner prior to current KFC structure. I believe it was built out to corner and would be an interesting reference point for your proposal.What are the common areas on residential floors?How can we support you going forward?What’s the allowed “developer fee” you alluded to earlier?How about making Walden a cul-de-sac at the railway bridge near Mead or a pedestrian / bike way? That would solve the traffic problem and ease neighborhood concerns about traffic snarl. It would force more biking and walking…all a good thing.Half my “questions” have been reiterating good questions or comments you’ve skipped! In any case, I thought this was about questions, which are more useful and important for a “community meeting” like this than cheerleading, largely seemingly from elsewhere!are 3 bedroom units in demand ?Does any aspect of this project depend on the AHO amendment passing or is it completely independent of AHO?How much have you gotten so far from the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust Fund? (Basically a “pass-through” from
city CPA funds. “Community Preservation Act.”)Did you bid on 2072 Mass. Ave in the fall of 2017, when the previous owner bought it before flipping it to you six months later for half a million dollars more than he paid?You’re making the comment that you’re running out of space (as it relates to drop off / pick up). This is telling. It means the building is too big for the lot / too big for the neighborhood. Build something less dense and not as big.Making the exit out of the proposed lot a right turn only might be a good idea during rush hour.Agree wholeheartedly with Susan Frankle…There is a debate coming up and I need a drink!Why didn't you commission a traffic and parking study BEFORE designing a project that apparently doesn't address the concerns raised by neighbors familiar with how the site operates?OK, thanks !!I’d like another neighborhood discussion on this before you take it to the next level: can someone arrange that? And now, like Ruth Ryals, I’m going to pour myself something medicinal before the much less congenial event to follow…Thank you.We will have a PSNA meeting with them, probably in next month or two.Jason, that sounded like emotional blackmail…A little too much “broadcast,” not enough “receive,” IMO.You didn’t live in the neighborhood pre Covid. We were trapped in our neighborhood many times because we couldn’t get out over our driveway at rush hour. Not to mention if an ambulance or fire truck needed to get into our neighborhood. AND your project is not taking the density and traffic issue seriously based on your last comments.