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Announcement :: Social Welfare
Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
05 Apr 2005
As many of you already know, the Archdiocese of Boston is in the process of selling the 3.5-acre parcel where the Blessed Sacrament Church now stands. The Blessed Sacrament had for over a hundred years been a center of the Hyde Square community. The deadline for bids on the site is THIS WEDNESDAY April 6th, 2005. One of the developers, Mr. Xerxes Agassi from Beacon Hill (54 Temple St.), stated in the Jamaica Plain Gazette his possible intention to build market-rate condos on the site. Just recently, he won an affordable housing vs. luxury condos debate at 11 Wyman Street giving him the opportunity to build more luxury condos in Jamaica Plain.
So what can we do? Well, we can look his number up in the phone book (which we did for you: 617-722-0090) and tell him how we feel of course. This is his home number, so please be cordial to anyone who might be answering the phone for him (which isn't at all unreasonable to assume at a Beacon Hill residence). And please do not harass, threaten or otherwise do anything that might be even slightly interpreted as illegal. Here are some talking points:

Tell Mr. Agassi that as a concerned Boston resident:
- you do not approve of his plans for market-rate condos at the Blessed
Sacrament site and would like him to PULL HIS BID
- and if he does go forward with his bid, and gains the bid, then you plan to do everything within your power to MAKE THE ZONING PROCESS EXTREMELY
DIFFICULT for him.

As residents of Boston we should be dialoguing with each other about how our
actions affect each other. What better time to start a dialogue with our
friendly Beacon Hill neighbors about how their actions are affecting our
neighborhoods than now?

Lots of love,

**Please forward and distribute widely to anti-displacement advocates***

This work is in the public domain
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Could you provide a little more context?
05 Apr 2005
Could you please explain why you think this is so imporatant and maybe give a little more history of JP gentrification?
I feel a little awkward participating in any action without feeling well informed.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
05 Apr 2005
Why is "market rate" called "luxury"? Is Mr. Agassi responsible for the rates determined by the market? If he is willing to bear the risk and investment costs of building housing, why shouldn't he be able to charge the market rate? Why do you have the right to speak for the neighborhood? Why do you get to determine what is good and bad for the community?

If low income housing is so important to you, then raise some money from like-minded people, outbid Mr. Agassi, and develop the property yourself. Or, convince enough JP voters to raise their own taxes and pay for the property.

Harassing someone at their home phone number is not the way to do it.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
05 Apr 2005
"Harassing someone at their home phone number is not the way to do it."

I'm sorry, who are you and why exactly do you feel like you are in a position to dictate tactics to others?

By all means, the members of this community should use EVERY tactic at their disposal to run yuppie developers out of their community.

Give 'em hell!
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
05 Apr 2005
so the deal with hyde square gentrification (as i understand it):

the hyde square area used to be in really rough shape: slum lords, crime, drugs, abandoned lots, etc.

however, a lot of community involvement (with lots of help from groups like hyde square task force and development help from the jamaica plain neighborhood development corporation), the neighborhood was cleaned up a whole lot and has become a nice place to live. that coupled with gentrification pushing people in the city outwards has made jamaica plainthe place for a new wave for gentrification. now, greedy developers, like mr. agassi, are looking to capitalize on a working-class neighborhood that has made itself a good place to live and push out the tenants who live there.

to ".", the way that gentrification works is that expensive housing (which market rate is (but i'll get there in a second) is put in. then the other landlords realize they can make an extra buck and so either raise rents (which forces people out of their neighborhoods), or evict people to renovate to cater to the richer people who are deciding to move to the area. thus the neighborhood is gentrified.

the boston housing market is ridiculous. it's commodifying a necessity to live. if the cost of m&m's shoot through the roof due to demand, that's one thing; if it's a necessity for survival, that's ridiculous. and the market demand for housing makes it way too expensive for a large sum of people, especially in the hyde sq. area. so to afford housing of that cost is a luxury, hence luxury housing.

i live near blessed sacrament. i don't want to have to move out of my neighborhood because a greedy real estate vulture wants to make his fortune even grander. and i don't want to see my neighbors forced out, either. he's screwing with my neighborhood, so why shouldn't i tell him to rescind his bid? the people working on this project are from jp, the bidder isn't. in fact, there have been neighborhood meetings (put on by the jamaica plain neighborhood council), and the result is that the jp neighborhood council has put out a call for affordable housing on the site. the community has spoken. why do you think mr. agassi should have such a say? because he's rich? yeah, that sounds great for the community.

and the jpndc is presenting a bid for the property to make it affordable housing. but when unfairly rich people have exorbitant amounts of money to sling around the playing field isn't quite fair.

hope that clears things up.
Thanks roger
05 Apr 2005
This discussion has been fruitful. Even the critic, who named themselves as "." had something interesting to contribute.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
05 Apr 2005
What one calls "market rate" many others call "impossible to afford."

The questions to ask are how is market rate determined and who determines it? My guess it's simply proved by finding a similar offering for the same price in Boston. For luxury apartments that would be well above what people are used to paying in that part of town- hence no one in that neighborhood would be able to live there. Then the rest of the rents go up and people are forced out of their life long homes.

I'm surprised anyone would have to explain it, frankly. It's happening all over the country, the best neighborhoods are destroyed by folks out to make a buck. JP is one of the cultural hearts of the city and this guy wants to plant a cancer in the heart of it.

There's a part II to this debate too- another development is being planned at Jackson Square T stop and community groups have been trying to guide the project, but they face stiff competition from large developers and their city councillors.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
05 Apr 2005
What gives you the right to "run out" the "yuppie developers"?

What gives me the right to "dictate tactics to others"? Please post your name, address, and home phone number on this forum. If you're willing to post someone else's, why not your own?

Instead of attacking some random developer, why don't you do something constructive? Go out, raise some money, and purchase the property yourself. Outbid the "yuppie developers".

If people in the community want low-income housing, they should be willing to subsidize it. If you really speak for the residents of JP, then you should have no problem organizing enough contributors and investors to buy the property yourself.

In other words, put up or shut up.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
Regardless of silly myths and legend, upward mobility in this country is next to non-existant. It is harder for someone to earn some money and become a developer than an ignorant bastard like you might think.

If you think one man's wishes are more important than an entire neighborhoods, then you are obviously one who isn't bothered by totalitarian leaders either.

The fact that someone is rich should not make them a decision maker for an entire neighborhood. This is a democracy (or at least we try to call it that) and in this country we consider public opinion when we make decisions that affect the public.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
"Outbid the "yuppie developers".

Yeah, I don't really have the money for that sort of thing. I think I'll just do my best running them out by other means. Thanks.
Will JP-NAG please post his or her real name, address, and telephone number?
06 Apr 2005
Name, home address, and phone number, please.

Prove your convictions. If you're willing to post someone else's contact information and encourage others to "run them out", then you should have no problem posting your own.

Otherwise, it's just more worthless big talk from an anonymous coward on the internet. You won't actually do anything productive or beneficial for JP. You won't actually go out and hustle and get anything done for the community you claim to love so much.

All you will do is bitch and complan, expecting someone else to pay the bill to preserve your neighborhood. I think at the bottom of it, you just want to fuck with a rich guy.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
".", are you serious?

this isn't some random rich guy. this is a guy who is planning a development that will ruin the hyde sq. neighborhood. this isn't harrassment, this is transparency.

i don't remember seeing mr. agassi at the jp neighborhood council meetings. if he were there, he would know that the overwhelming majority of people in jp want affordable housing on the site.

if mr. agassi plans on coming into my neighborhood and adding buildings that are going to change the economic composition, i feel it's fine for community members (with the support of the community) to call him and challenge him on this.

and the jpndc is putting in a bid for the building. i already said that. keep in mind that we're talking millions and millions of dollars for this property. and for an area where the median income is 42k, it's not like a bunch of people have that sort of money to throw around.

jp-nag has no need to post their full contact information. they're not trying to buy property and use it against the community's wishes. that's why we're calling this guy.

and as for going out and hustling, jp-nag has been doing grunt work organizing (petitioning, helping spread the word about community meetings) for some time now. they're doing that. what are you doing? trolling on an indymedia message board? defending a rich guy who could potentially force out lifelong residents of the hyde sq area? trying to get people's full contact information?

as for "someone else to pay the bill," keep in mind, i already said (once in a previous post and once in this post) that the jpndc is putting in a bid for the property. that's what neighborhood develpment corporations do. so stop acting like we're trying to get someone else to pay for it. i told you who is trying to pay for affordable housing on the site three times now.

and the only one "bitching and complaining" here is you. jp-nag is out there working on doing productive things for the jp community.

unless you bring up some original points (which, frankly, i don't think you have since your original post), i'm done with this conversation, and i encourage others to be, too.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
umm. I think mr. "." has proven that he's a troll by now. We've explained it five ways and he hasn't acknowledged one or conceded a single point, even though many good arguments have been made. And why would he be here if he disagrees with everything we say on this?
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
I'm glad to hear that there is an alternate bid that has more support in the community. The original message did not make this clear. It is a better tactic to simply build support and find investors for a mixed-use zoning bid, rather than harrassing someone at home.

I feel that posting someone's home number crosses the boundary. You should have posted the developer's office or buisness number. They have no right dragging his family into it. (Did you ever consider that this guy's kids or wife will be the ones having to deal with random internet creeps?)

Even though this information is publically available, encouraging strangers on the internet to "run out" someone and posting their home address is irresponsible, if not dangerous.

Keeping JP affordable for long-time renters is a noble goal, but it's wrong to resort to intimidation.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
What about accountability? As was stated, this person is coming in to make expensive condos without consulting the community that lives there. Perhaps this is a way to make this person accountable for the actions he is about to embark upon?
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
"I think at the bottom of it, you just want to fuck with a rich guy."

Fuck with a rich guy? Nah son, I want to fuck with ALL rich guys. But until we get to that level of clas war where we can expropriate these bastards out of existence on a mass scale I guess this particular rich guy will do for now, cuz he's trying to gentrify my neighborhood. Thanks for all your concerns though. Really.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
As far as I'm concerned, you've taken a play straight out of the right-wing extremists' playbook.

How is this any different from an anti-abortion zealot posting a list of women's clinic doctors on the web, and encouraging people to "take care" of them?

How is this any different from some racist in Georgia posting the addresses of Hispanic voters on the web, and encouraging people to challenge their voting eligibility?

Oooh. That's some tough talk about "class warfare". Of course, it's easy when you're hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.

Oh well. If you're too blind to see the ineffective and galvanizing nature of your tactics, you're doomed to failure. Hope you enjoy the Starbucks opening soon in your neighborhood.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
ha ha ha
galvanizing nature?
oh no!
did you go to school for that one?
do you have any idea what it means?

how is posting the displacement profiteers' info better than posting info of doctors and undocumented people? i'll spell it out for you:

patriarchal oppression --> bad
racist/nationalist oppression --> bad
expropriating rich people --> great!

you're missing the forest for the trees. the class war has always been brutal, and often anonymous, in both directions. we know where you stand.

BUT! your scaremongering is a non sequitur. the guy's number is publicly listed. and JP-NAG clearly says: "And please do not harass, threaten or otherwise do anything that might be even slightly interpreted as illegal." This is a good guideline to follow in this case.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
06 Apr 2005
Hey JP-nag, I do not want to come across as in any way discouraging because I am really happy that this article was posted and I do not have any problems with the suggested action. It would have been awesome though if some of the information that was posted in the ensuing discussion had been in the original article, specifics about the jpndc's affordable housing proposal + a little context and history. I feel like a little bit of a snot for posting this, but ya know, presumably folks from all over the region + also with varying degrees of awareness re: gentrification issues in general and the history and comunity response in JP, are checking this out...I know I was way more psyched about the action and interested in the issue after I read Roger's post...I guess I am trying to be encouraging, it would be rad if you could write more about this and post another article
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
07 Apr 2005
"How is this any different from an anti-abortion zealot posting a list of women's clinic doctors on the web, and encouraging people to "take care" of them?"

Actually, I think a more accurate comparison would be the types of personalized actions that labor unions use against exploitive bosses on a fairly regular basis. It is pretty common practice during labor disputes to bring informational pickets to employers houses... not to mention publicizing personal information, tracking investments and personal assets, etc.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
07 Apr 2005
So just for your information, Mr. Agassi, as far as I know, doesn't have a business number. He was simply quoted in the paper as putting up the bid personally and putting luxury condo developments up on Wyman St. So his home number is his buisness number. Besides, he's doing something that is affecting a lot of other people's homes and lives in really personal ways, so even if he did have a business address why should he have the his home and personal space repected when he's not respecting other people's?

JP-NAG, as far as I know, didn't actually post this on Indymedia. We just sent an e-mail out to friends and folks in the area that we know and others must have that it'd be a good idea to post something on indymedia. The first time that I found out that it was on Indymedia was now.

The JPNDC proposal, as far as I know, is the best proposal on the table so far. It supports maximizing affordable housing, local/ independent business, community space for neighborhood programs, community accountability through the whole process, preserving the existing structure on the site and keeping the compass school on the site There's also a proposal from a Penecostal Church from the South End that I don't know much about that doesn't involve luxury condos, or other luxury develpment... so even though they haven't heard much from them and they haven't been as involved in the community process, their proposal isn't violently gentrifying like Mr. Agassi's is.

This is a really important deal because many, many people have been displaced from JP because they can't afford it anymore. We'd like to stop this and have a community-based development. So we having been doing a lot of work on the campaign and sent an e-mail to our friends with the idea to try to dialogue with Mr. Aggassi. Again we advocate nothing illegal, just a dialogue with the developer. I had a conversation with Mr. Agassi that was actually pretty cordial considering how diametrically opposed our interests were.

Anyway, here's a good article on gentrification if anyone is interested in it:

What is Gentrification? by Tom Wetzel

If anyone has any specific questions, post them and I'm sure that someone on the site can answer them.

And thanks for all the solidarity from Roger, yuppie eradication, Pete Stidman, blah, blah, blah, sneaky, accountability? and -- . And thanks for the suggestions and questions david and Ignorant.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
11 Apr 2005
Hey here is an idea... Insteads of putting in market rate condos and raising the quality of the area, why dont we put in more projects. And by the way... how about you stop being a coward a put your own address and home phone number. Hey, I respect you standing up for a cause, even if I don't agree with it, but there are ways about going about things and giving out the mans home phone and address is plainly wrong.
Re: Help Stop Luxury Condo Developers in JP
21 Apr 2005
You should support the development of market rate condos because gentrification drives few low-income residents from their homes and benefits the neighborhood. Read Lance Freeman's article in last month's edition of "Urban Affairs Review." Mr. Freeman is an assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University. For a synopsis of the article, see the article in the April 20, 2005 edition of USA Today by Rick Hampton.