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Charlesview will enhance area

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March 9, 2008

The article "Project fails to impress" (City Weekly, March 2) requires clarification on several key points related to the redevelopment at Charlesview Residences.

The article begins by referencing a list of perceived shortcomings. If these reflect the concerns of some of our neighbors, we look forward to addressing them in direct discussions in the coming weeks. The article misses the fact that Charlesview is an enduring symbol of Allston-Brighton's community spirit. This is not a development imposed on the community by outside forces - it is a creation of this community, through its houses of worship, for this community.

Also missing from the article is context. Our proposal is framed by Charlesview Inc.'s mission to preserve the existing 213 units as an affordable housing resource into the future, and advance the urban design goals in the North Allston Strategic Framework for Planning. Some points of fact:

  • There is a severe need for affordable housing in Allston/Brighton - both rental and homeownership. Charlesview alone has a wait list of hundreds of mixed-income households needing rental apartments.

  • Both components - rental and homeownership - will include low, moderate, and market housing; 63 percent of the "additional" 187 units (beyond the 213 "replacement" units) represent homeownership opportunities.

  • The total program is proposed at 400 units, not 500. They are not exclusively rental, they are not exclusively low income, and they are not located on Everett Street as indicated.

  • Given the limited land available in North Allston/Brighton, some density and building height will be required to meet the housing production goals of the Strategic Framework - but it needs to be done with sensitivity. Accordingly, the buildings facing the abutting residential neighborhood have four stories, with roofline references to existing houses. The buildings along the Western Avenue commercial corridor are taller, where scale is called for to reinforce the urban street edge. A slender 10-story building on Soldiers Field Road, well away from the neighborhood, will mark the location of the pedestrian bridge to the river. The proposed building heights also enable us to keep half of the site as green open space, accessible to all.

    The article references "boring retail." While no specific retail uses have been determined, the objective is to reinvigorate the area and provide amenity-rich services to the entire community.

    The Charlesview Residences will enhance the existing neighborhood and add much-needed affordable housing - and a model of green development - to the city. We are looking forward to the community process and to working with our neighbors on a development that will spur the revitalization of this part of the city.

    RABBI ABRAHAM HALBFINGER
    Charlesview Inc.

    FELICIA JACQUES
    The Community Builders Inc.

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