Brewery Landlord Sues to Block Housing for the Homeless, Because Parking
The Jamaica Plain landlord of Turtle Swamp Brewing is arguing that his tenant’s “ability to find parking” on Washington Street is more important than housing over 200 homeless people.
That’s one of the arguments in a lawsuit filing from Monty Gold, the owner of Turtle Swamp’s building at 3377 Washington St., who wants to overturn city approvals for 202 new apartments and associated social services for formerly homeless individuals across the street.
The proposed building, at 3368 Washington St., would be the largest new housing development built by the Pine Street Inn, the region’s largest social services provider for homeless individuals. Pine Street Inn filed its initial plans for the building over a year ago with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), received BPDA approvals in November, and won additional approvals from the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals in March. The City of Boston has also set aside millions of dollars to help fund the project.
Previous neighborhood opposition had already cut its height from six stories to five, thus eliminating housing for at least 23 more people.
And though the project is located three blocks away from the Green Street Orange Line station and the Southwest Corridor bike path, Pine Street Inn would also spend over half a million dollars to construct 39 off-street parking spaces as part of their project.
The owners of Turtle Swamp Brewery are taking pains to note that it’s their landlord – not them – who are suing the project, and that the brewery “remains supportive of the mission of our neighbors at the Pine Street Inn.”
But an August 6th edition of the Boston Bulletin, which first covered the lawsuit, reported that John Lincecum, a co-founder of Turtle Swamp Brewing, has “protested at one public meeting that the lack of parking would badly impact his business.”
The brewery has also pointedly refrained from condemning the lawsuit or endorsing Pine Street Inn’s project. In an Instagram post that went up on Monday afternoon, Turtle Swamp wrote that “we are concerned about the chaos that many years of construction will have on ALL our neighbors and small businesses on Washington Street.”
Streetsblog reached out to Lincecum for comment on Monday, but Lincecum has not yet responded.
The brewery’s response has disappointed many of its neighbors and customers, including Jesse Kanson-Benanav, an affordable housing developer and longtime advocate for new housing in the Boston region.
Unfortunately, if the owners of @TurtleSwampBrew fail to publicly state their opposition to this lawsuit and their support for the @PineStreetInn/@TCBCommunities development *AS PERMITTED* I will have to stop my patronage. And I bet many of my JP neighbors will stop too.
— Jesse Kanson-Benanav says #BlackLivesMatter (@jessekb) August 10, 2020
In a phone conversation Tuesday morning, Kanson-Benanav said that if Turtle Swamp truly supports Pine Street Inn, the business should publicly support the new building as well.
“You’ve got to put your money where your mouth is,” said Kanson-Benanav. “Supporting their mission, but not this specific development, is similar to what we see in many suburban communities, where people will put up a Black Lives Matter sign in their yard next to a sign that opposes affordable housing.”