The Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance knows a thing or two about smart development.
Which is why it’s interesting that they have singled out Newton for not jumping on the opportunity to build Austin Street. In a blog post that’s well worth the read, the MSGA points out how places like Winchester and West Concord have embraced these concepts in areas similar in character to Newtonville. So while opponents of this project like to say that this project is about urbanization of Newton or that it’s trying to turn Newton into Boston, that simply isn’t the case. It’s really about keeping pace with the development being done by our suburban peers.
But most damning is this at the end:
Highly vocal opponents don’t visualize the future the same way as the project’s community proponents. Where proponents see new life on the street, opponents visualize auto gridlock. Where proponents see 17 units affordable to a police officer or teacher, opponents see school costs. Where proponents see 51 market rate units that will allow young professionals or downsizing baby boomers to stay in Newton, opponents see unwanted “luxury” housing and gentrification.
With two-thirds of Millennials desiring to live in walkable, transit-accessible places at the same time that seniors shift to apartment living, suburban communities have a real test before them. Communities like Newtonville need to decide between planned growth and unplanned growth. For its peers like West Concord village, Winchester Center, Andover and Newburyport, the future is already happening.
Also worth noting is the fact that the West Concord project mentioned is built by the same developer as Austin Street and larger in size and scope.
Do we really want to be known as the city that voted for a parking lot?