Hang onto your hats!  Developers not playing by the affordable housing rules.

Well, this is outrageous.

The development that was built at 135 Athens Street/160 West Broadway was supposed to designated two of the 15 units would be sold at affordable units.  Guess what?  All 15 sold at market rates.  When the BPDA found out about it, they issued a fine.  A slap on the wrist.

Dan Atkinson from Dig Boston did an investigative article and discovered the developer purchased the property at 135 Athens St that year for $1.8 million.  They then sold 15 units at market rate for a total of $9.95 million, an average of $664,000 a unit.  The  affordable housing units should have sold at a rate of between $180K-$239K for a one-bedroom and between $214K and $277K for a two-bedroom. 

The BPDA fined the developer $600,000. 

Atkinson also discovered that in addition to the the 135 Athens Street/160 West Broadway, three other projects also failed to comply with agreed-to affordable housing requirements.

You can read all the details here. 

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.


  1. Talk about not getting it. What about the people who needed affordable housing ya Jerk!!! (see below)

    The BPDA board approved the settlement unanimously, with member Michael Monahan saying the agency came out ahead.

    “In hindsight, it’s better off that they did violate it—we get more money,” Monahan said.

  2. How about all the money from this fine and the future fines to come be put in a plan to assist affordable housing purchases. Especially for longtime citizens who are being forced out for greed.

  3. How about allocating the fines from this and future fines to assist affordable buyers with home purchases so they can stay in the city. Especially seniors how are being forced out.

    • Clean house and replace with who? The pool is pretty shallow these days, especially to work in the gulags of a local government.

      The real question is how much fraud is missed across the board? Probably 10’s of millions a year. State police….perfect example.

      Can’t wait to hear what’s next.

  4. I am surprised I haven’t seen this mentioned, but how about setting a precedent and the city preventing this developer from ever getting another permit in the city. Also, fining the difference, so they do. It make the profit they thought. I know that doesn’t help the people who need it, but it might be only measure that prevents it from happening again. We have to start holding city politicians accountable too. We vote the same people in that make the rules, so we hold some of the blame. Just a thought.

  5. Meant to say that they should fine them the difference between what they should have made and what they ended up making.

  6. If you go to the BPDA site there are now three ways for a developer to comply with the current affordable housing program. One of them is a computed cash payment in lieu of designated affordable unit(s). It is not “fraud”, nor is the payment considered a “fine”; just as a legal option.

    Totally legal, and put into effect in Jan 2016 by Walsh’s executive order. Details online at the BPDA website for those interested in a deep dive instead of a deep whine….

    When looking to assign blame about lack of ‘affordable housing’, place some on the City’s convoluted and expensive approval process, full of redundancies, contradictions and delays.

    A back of the envelope estimate of JUST the approval/permit/legal cost on a project of this size is probably approaching $1 MILLION… that’s BEFORE a shovel is put into the ground; computes to over $66K/unit for essentially “paperwork”. Not to mention the land costs which have been continually driven upwards by increasing assessments and tax rates. These are hard costs which have to be paid before the building permits are issued and absorbed by the development…there’s even more expenses after that during the myriad inspection processes.

    Continued pressure on developments to provide increasing contributions and/or limiting compliance flexibility towards the affordable housing initiative will kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

    How about some procedural relief from the City for developers to build the affordable inventory? Did you know that affordable units have to have the same build and finish as full market units? Sub-Zero and granite in the kitchen goes into the $2M penthouse AND the ‘affordable’ …or it fails inspection. How about making the qualifications for purchasing/renting an affordable unit less daunting? Can you commit to live in the same space for ten years without being able to sell or rent to a third party if your job calls you away? Have you checked the number of affordable units languishing on the market? It’s a case of “if you build it, they will NOT come.” Check out a recent “Boston Globe” article on this very subject. You’ll be surprised at the wasted resources.

    Just as you would not work for free, give at least a passing nod to the big bad developer who is also trying to get paid while undertaking considerable risk.

    • Interesting and informative reply. What would really help in the process is having some creative and talented people actually work together to make this whole process legal and responsible for all. So many on these boards or committees are just lazy and don’t give a hoot about this as long as the paycheck keeps coming.

    • Are u really trying to say the “poor developers”! I know dam well if it wasn’t lucrative to the developers they wouldn’t be doing it so take ur whining elsewhere! As far as the city goes something smells afoul! Clean up City Hall! Clean up the BRA! There r SB residents and former residents forced out that need affordable housing! Having a cash payment to take the place of an affordable housing unit availability is not equal or just to the residents. I am sure this will be news to the majority of the residents.

      • Oh Anne, again, if you can pay you can stay. If you can’t afford it, Melrose, Woburn, Quincy, etc. are all within 15 minutes and are much more ffordable. Money talks, bullshit walks.

  7. This really upsets me. Twenty years ago I had to leave Charlestown born and raised there. My family dated back to 1700’s in Charlestown.I could not afford 380,000 at that time. Today I have my house but not where I want to be. Same reason..Developers need to be held accountable not fined…

  8. This happening was inevitable. We were bound to get screwed I personally NEVER believed they would follow through with affordable units. It was all bull fed to the residents of South boston so we wouldn’t fight to much on all these ugly buildings going up. Now we got screwed funny no word from Mr. Big shot mayor. Maybe us residents need to really start rustling his damn feathers!!!

  9. That’s not true. They need to have comparable items but not the same. The penthouse and the affordable unit are not going to have the exact same make and model fridge. At least not here in Boston.

    • No we won’t stop “bitching” as u say Mike! I was born and raised here as were a lot of the good folks in this community. We gave rights and deserve answers. Why don’t u go back to the hole u crawled out of!

      • If you can’t afford it anymore, there are plenty of other towns that are more affordable. Your right is to be able to live here, if you can afford it. If you can’t afford it, then you move. Not a hard concept to understand.

  10. Im familiar with the building and am not surprised. We’ve come to learn the developer, Ryan Connelly, is a lying, dishonest, slimeball who lacks integrity and slapped together a crap building and cut every corner possible. Some woman named Leah Popielarski Is listed as the developer but Ryan made all the real decisions. The fact that he/they would blatantly disregard a requirement shocks exactly no one. I agree that he shouldn’t be allowed to build anywhere else in the city. We’ve come to find out he has a couple projects in Southie and they’re all disasters. I’ve since learned that most projects under construction have a banner outside publicizing the developer and construction company/contact information and ours didn’t—now I totally understand why. Lesson learned.

    • You guys are aware that the developer(s) pay the city to “not put affordable housing in the actual buidling” right? It happens every where. The developer pays X dollars to the city to ensure they dont have to put in any low income units to the buidling, thus downgrading the building “value” or “exclusiveness”. The city knows this and allows it because they like the money.