Ken's Letter to the DND

Hi John, 

Thanks so much for a prompt & thoughtful (not to mention encouraging) response!

I have to confess no small amount of ignorance regarding the workings and functions of the various groups and people you've mentioned. Unlike Brendan, I'm new to this process and have a lot to learn! I'll have Brendan bring me up to speed as much as he can.  But thank you for reaching out to the various parties on our behalf. Let me know what information and/or action on my part will best help you help us. Thanks!


Hello Ken (I've included Brendan in this email, as well as Helen Matthews since Brendan indicated in his email that she has met with tenants), thanks to you and Brendan for your emails and background on 128 Brookside.   DND is very interested in pursuing a targeted acquisition strategy in JP/Rox to preserve/enhance affordability and unique uses, such as artist work/live space.  We have involved City LIfe (Steve Meacham, Helen Matthews and Alex Ponte-Capellan), Urban Edge (Emily Loomis) and JP Neighborhood Development Corp (Leslie Bos).  All are committed to working together to identify buildings to target for acquisition; on this level, we have met on a number of occasions and reviewed a number of JP/Rox. buildings .  Helen, Steve and Alex have provided us with invaluable information regarding tenant, building and ownership histories for many buildings, and while UE and JPNDC has done the same, they have also done preliminary financing analysis on a number of buildings to assess acquisition feasibility.  DND is supportive of using city funds to promote building acquisition.  

In this context, your information on 128 Brookside is very important.  We will reach out to Helen/Steve/Alex and UE and JPNDC.  I would like our team to assemble as much information as possible- building condition, number of units, income mix- so that we can quickly assess an approach for stabilizing tenancies, with one possibility being acquisition.  I will share my contact with you with UE and JPNDC.  We plan to meet again next week and can discuss the property.  We can get back to shortly.

Please call or email me on this.  

Dear Sirs, 

Brendan Killian shared an email he sent to you regarding his concerns about the impending development of the Brookside Ave. area of Jamaica Plain. I would like to add my voice to the growing chorus of concern.

I rent space at 128 Brookside Ave. as well and use it in two capacities. Firstly, it functions as my workplace from which I run my video post-production business serving mostly corporate and commercial clients, providing editorial, visual effects and motion graphics services. My business suffers from the usual cycles and at times struggles financially, while doing very well at other times. The affordability of the space, as well as its location has been essential in keeping me in business these past 6 years. 

Even more importantly though is the secondary use of my space, which I am absolutely passionate about. I am fortunate enough to have the largest space in the building (approx 1200 sq. ft.) and I have put it to extensive use in service to the community. We have hosted concerts of ALL kinds of music from chamber groups to 20 piece big band ensembles, experimental music, reggae, soul, klezmer, folk, rock and such a wide variety of music from around the world, some representative of our community's ethnicities and some more foreign and novel. We have put on plays, film screenings, readings, have used the space as an art gallery, recording studio, photo studio. We have hosted a number of community organizational events and meetings. And now, with the BSO having announced its 3 year residency in Jamaica Plain, we are involved with the planning and development of their residency and will be one of many spaces in JP that will host concerts (not the full orchestra of course) by the BSO. At our last meeting (at my space), their representatives were so excited that such spaces still existed and that this was "exactly the kind of place we were hoping to find".  Assuming, of course, that the space continues to exist. 

Aside from private parties, which we do rent the space out for occasionally, all these events I've described have been FREE to the public. I have personally spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the years to bring these performances and events to the community free of charge. My hope has always been that I am allowing people to experience art and music that they might not be able to afford to experience otherwise. All of this will vanish if 128 Brookside Ave. is developed in a way that is no longer condusive to this sort of activity or financially prohibitive for me to continue to be there. I invite you to come to my space either for a private meeting or to attend and event and see for yourself some of the magic that happens there!

I ***strongly*** believe that one of the things in Jamaica Plain that makes it worth some people spending $700k (or more) on a two bedroom condo is exactly because such places as 128 Brookside Ave. exist in their community. Artists are kind of like trees. They're easily taken for granted, seemingly everywhere and often regarded as dispensible to the goals of development. But if you paved over the Arboretum for condos, you'd quickly find that the neighborhood was a lot less desirable, and property values would plummet. I am not, as some of my colleagues, against all development. I am not against people making money. I am not fundamentally opposed to change. But I warn you - for your own interests - against ignoring the value of art and music, artists and musicians, thriving in a community. We are so blessed to have the Arboretum and I believe we are just as blessed to have such a creative population within our community. It adds so much value - actual value. Do not pave us over! It is not just for our own benefit but for yours as well that we continue to thrive and to do it here. We are part of what makes this community such a desirable place to live.

Best Regards, 

Ken Michaels