BPDA reissues development proposals, requesting stronger diversity and inclusion criteria

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BOSTON–The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board this month authorized the agency to reissue Request for Proposals (RFPs) for three separate developments on BPDA-owned property which have not sufficiently outlined plans to further the agency’s mission regarding diversity and inclusion.

The three developments are Building 108 in the Charlestown Navy Yard142 Shawmut Avenue in the South End, and Charlestown Main Street. This vote builds on the BPDA’s and City of Boston’s ongoing commitment to ensure that developments on agency-owned property advance equity and inclusion in Boston.

“In Boston we believe in using our public land for public good, and that means not only supporting affordable housing, economic development, and good jobs, but creating wealth and opportunities for those who have historically been left out,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “That’s why we’re asking our partners in the development community to step up. If we get this right, Boston can become the leader in promoting diversity and inclusion in development.”

While the proposals for these developments included sufficient design and programmatic elements, the diversity and inclusion plans lacked specific, well documented measures to advance economic opportunities for people of color and women in real estate development and related fields. The agency has encouraged all proponents to re-submit their proposals with robust diversity and inclusion commitments. Additionally, the updated Diversity and Inclusion Plan will comprise 25 percent of the BPDA’s comparative evaluation of each proposal submitted.

At the same time, the City of Boston and BPDA are working to update the language in RFPs for public land to provide greater clarity on the expectations for submissions, further prioritize diversity and inclusions during the selection process, and strengthen the City’s and the BPDA’s commitment to outcomes which enhance equity.

In 2018, Mayor Walsh committed the BPDA and the City of Boston to including a Diversity and Inclusion evaluation criterion in all real estate disposition RFPs, which requires proponents to include a Diversity and Inclusion Plan to outline their commitments to including M/WBEs in all aspects of their development.

This month, the Board also approved development projects in neighborhoods across the City of Boston. Overall, the new development projects approved this month will create an additional 354 residential units, including 44 income-restricted units, and 330 construction jobs. These projects include:

  • The William Barton Rogers Middle School in Hyde Park will be reactivated to create 75 LGBTQ-friendly, senior housing rental units, 50 of which will be income-restricted. The entirety of the building will be preserved and adapted for this new use, and will include 10,000 square feet of community space.

  • 449 Cambridge Street in Allston will replace the existing structure with two new residential buildings. All together, these two buildings will contain 166 residential units, 28 of which are income-restricted, 2,400 square feet of ground-floor retail space and approximately 80 accessory parking spaces. Additionally, 10 of the units are compliant with the City of Boston’s Compact Living Policy Pilot Program, which aims to increase options for housing in response to growing demand, promote sustainable development, encourage innovation and creative design solutions, and minimize potential traffic resulting from increased density.

  • 365 Western Avenue in Brighton will construct a six-story building comprising 65 rental units, 10 of which are income-restricted. There will also be 100 bicycle parking spaces. Community benefits associated with the project include contributions for installation of enhanced bus stops on Western Ave and other transit improvements in the area.

  • 421-425 Market Street in Brighton will bring 23 rental units, including 3 income-restricted units to the neighborhood. Additionally, the newly-approved project will contribute funds to transportation improvements resulting from the BPDA’s ongoing Allston-Brighton Mobility Study.

  • 756 East Third Street in South Boston will construct a four-story residential building in South Boston, containing 25 homeownership units including 3 income-restricted units.

Additionally, the Board authorized the agency to bolster ongoing planning studies in Newmarket and the Seaport by entering into consultant services for the PLAN: Newmarket the 21st Century Economy Initiative to draft a planning document and amending consultant services for the Seaport Strategic Transit Plan to include additional transportation planning and analysis in support of the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park Final Master Plan Update.