Somerville, MA, Aug. 12, 2014 – Ward 5’s aldermen and residents are mostly happy the Green Line will reach the neighborhood in the near future, but they are worried about the side effects.
“The Green Line will create half a dozen new subway stops in Somerville through the heart of the city and give us the kind of public transportation that we deserve,” Ward 5 Alderman Mark Niedergang told Somerville Neighborhood News as he walked around the Lowell Street neighborhood recently.
“What I love about this community is that it’s a mixed-income community,” he said, but he added that he’s very concerned about property values around the Green Line stations, possible rent hikes and displacement.
A recent report from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council predicts that rents could go up as much as 67 percent over the next few decades. Because two-thirds of the city’s households are renters, the rent hike could have major impact on the city’s economic, racial and ethnic diversity.
After speaking at a recent forum on gentrification in Boston, Professor James Jennings of Tufts Uninversity noted that gentrification has already started in Somerville.
“I think what the Green Line extension means to me and what I take out of today’s forum is that residents have to be aware of how real-estate is going to go up,” Jennings said.
The professor of urban policy and planning recommended that residents find out “exactly who’s responsible for what level of decision making and how can they, as residents, impact decision making before it’s made.”
Residents of Ward 5 offered differing viewpoints.
“I’m sure it will gentrify the area,” said Rachael Weisz of the future Green Line stop. “I mean, we are already seeing some of the garages here, there’s one right across the street that’s been taken down. And condos are going up.”
Madeline Micalizio, another resident, said she thinks possible rent and housing value increase is “not very cool”, but at the same time, said she is happy there will be more accessible transportation.