Monday, November 28, 2016

Residences at Forest Hills proposal threatens Arborway recreational experience

A residential housing development proposed for the LAZ parking lot site on the corner of the Arborway and Washington Street in Forest Hills in its current form threatens the recreational experience of the Arborway portion of the Emerald Necklace by proposing to site one building directly on the verge of the under construction pedestrian and bike paths on the southern side of the Casey Arborway Project - including a six-story building with no setback at all from the sidewalk.
Site plan, with actual Casey Arborway plan

There are no buildings on the western or southern sides of the Emerald Necklace between the Fens and Franklin Park of such mass - with the exception of a proposed hotel on the industrial block along River Street in Brookline - and none with zero setback. These buildings will throw much winter shade over the Emerald Necklace, looming over the soon-to-be-restored recreational paths as the project's own shadow studies show.
Winter shadow studies
There is much to admire about the project's proposed density, architectural cladding and affordable housing allotment in this prime Transit Oriented Development-appropriate site, but in renderings provided in the project's PNF documentation, these under construction paths are depicted as if they are additions to the public good rather than public paths being treated as the front yard of the project.

Building B, with Arborway pedestrian and bike paths in foreground, looking southwest

Building B (left) and Building C (corner of Washington and Arborway) looking south

In my view, the lack of setback for Building B along Frederick Law Olmsted's nationally heralded and locally cherished Emerald Necklace is bad precedent, and a threat to the character of the recreational experience for generations to come - just as that experience is being restored in Forest Hills for the first time in sixty years.