Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blog Post No. 2012-9: Arboretum Place establishes a strong northern gateway for Roslindale...

... and begins the evolution of Forest Hills

Photo 1: Arboretum Place from the south.

Photo 2: Looking across Washington Street at the southern building corner.

Photo 3: Looking across Washington Street at the northern end of the building's facade.

Photo 4: Looking south on Washington Street.

Photo 5: The finished product.

The Location: Arboretum Place (Washington Street), Jamaica Plain, MA (MAP).

Year of Urban Fabric Restoration: 2012.

The Story: Or is this more accurately described as the southern gateway to Jamaica Plain? I must say that I've always thought of this particular location as being part of God's Country (a.k.a, Roslindale), but I stand corrected. Regardless, this is a very good piece of work by everyone involved, running from the City of Boston (and its Forest Hills Planning Initiative) and the MBTA (owners of these sliver parcels along what was to have been the Southwest Expressway) to the neighboring community and the developer, WCI Realty, and their design team, including extremely local player Vozzella Design Group (whose office is literally two doors down from here). The building will be oriented tightly toward the street, with retail uses on the entire first floor and parking located on either side instead of between the building on the front lot line. It's going to be a strong presence at this location.

I will also confess both (1) that I'm jumping the gun slightly (in that the project is not yet complete), and (2) that this isn't technically about "restoring" the urban fabric here because, truth be told (at least according to our friend George Bromley and his series of atlases from the late 19th and early 20th centuries), this is the first time a building has been placed on this particular location. As you can see from Bromley's 1884 and 1923 maps, this space between intersecting railroad lines (today's Amtrak/MBTA mainline on the east and the MBTA's Needham Heights branch on the west) has previously lain unused despite development nearby. The anchor tenant for the retail is going to be Harvest Co-op, a natural and organic foods grocer that has a location not far away on South Street in JP as well as in Cambridge. The space here will be a big step up for them (according to the Jamaica Plain Gazette, at about 8700 square feet, it's double the size of the current JP store) and you may well find your RTUF correspondent shopping there from time to time once it opens.

Forest Hills generally appears on the verge of rapid evolution from a kind of afterthought at the edge of two neighborhoods lying underneath the Casey Overpass to a destination in its own right. Once completed and occupied, Arboretum Place should play a major role in moving this gateway to the southwestern section of Boston forward.

The Not-RTUF Sketch: The developers of Arboretum Place have a definitive plan view of the development on their website (the building profiled here is the larger one in the center of the sketch), so no need for RTUF to reinvent this particular wheel:

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