BRA Approves $586 million in new projects


BOSTON–The Boston Redevelopment Authority’s board of directors approved eight new projects, as well as updated zoning for the South Huntington Avenue corridor in Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill and the Stuart Street area of Back Bay. All together the projects represent a combined investment of $586.1 million and will create approximately 700 units of new housing in the city. The projects are expected to generate nearly 1,400 construction jobs, according to BRA. See details on all projects below.

The board also approved changing the name of the Boston Marine Industrial Park in South Boston to honor the legacy of former ambassador and mayor Ray Flynn. Mayor Flynn held office from 1983 until 1993, when President Bill Clinton appointed him Ambassador to the Holy See. As Mayor, Flynn, who is a South Boston native with deep family ties to maritime commerce, is widely credited with reviving the industrial port and preserving blue-collar jobs. The recommendation to rename the area to the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park was made by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and a special commission formed by the Boston City Council.

Last night’s meeting was the first under a new format that aims to have meetings end earlier in the evening without diminishing the opportunity for members of the public to participate and offer testimony when appropriate. The change was instituted after several meetings in the past year ran late into the night.

Below is a summary of the new development projects that were approved.

After extensive vetting process, Equity receives approval to redevelop Garden Garage with several hundred apartments

Total Project Cost: $350,000,000
Total SF: 536,000
Construction Jobs: 499

Equity Residential’s proposed redevelopment of the West End’s Garden Garage won BRA board approval after a lengthy vetting process that dates back almost six years. The board heard three hours of public testimony at last month’s meeting before deciding to postpone a vote on the project so that the development team could work to address concerns raised by community members and the board. The approved project is smaller by approximately 6,000 square feet, and it includes 55 fewer parking spots than before. Equity also agreed to increase its affordable housing contribution by $1.2 million to $8 million total and to provide $1 million to implement traffic improvements related to the North Station Area Transportation Action Plan.

The developer originally filed a proposal for the project in January 2011, before filing updated proposals in October 2014 and October 2015. First proposed as a two-building concept, the approved project will be a single, 447-foot high, 44-story tower with approximately 470 rental units. It will also include 20,000 square feet of common area space, 2,300 square feet of retail space, 775 underground parking spots, and close to an acre of new public open space.

Elkus Manfredi Architects designed the building, and Carol R. Johnson Associates served as the project’s landscape architects. By replacing an unsightly above-ground parking structure with a new residential building and a significant amount of green space, Equity Residential expects the project to improve connections between the West End, North Station, and the Bullfinch Triangle. New lighting, landscaping, and walkways will be installed, and the outdoor spaces will be available for community events.

Transportation consultants from Howard Stein Hudson designed the project’s parking garage so that it has multiple entrances and an underground connection to the adjacent Longfellow Garage in order to improve pedestrian and vehicular circulation in the area, especially during major events at the nearby TD Garden.

Prime parcels in Allston to be transformed with new housing and retail

Total Project Cost: $47,000,000
Total SF: 121,000
Construction Jobs: 122

130 units of housing, along with 7,500 square feet of retail space and an on-site bicycle repair station, are slated to replace three brownfield parcels at 89 Brighton Avenue in Allston. The site, which is currently occupied by a multi-family house, a commercial building, and a truck rental facility, is conveniently located near the MBTA’s Green Line and multiple bus routes that connect the neighborhood to downtown, the Longwood Medical Area, and Cambridge.

Based on feedback from the community, the development firm Eden Properties reconfigured the project to include fewer studio apartments and more housing that is conducive to residents putting down roots in the neighborhood. No more than 54 of the units will be studio apartments, with the balance being a mix of one- and two-bedrooms. In accordance with the city’s Inclusionary Development Policy, the project will include 17 affordable units. There will be 69 parking spaces and covered storage for 140 bicycles. Residents will also have access to loaner bicycles to reduce the need for a car.

Prellwitz Chilinski Associates designed the project.

New housing approved for Orient Heights in East Boston

Total Project Cost: $9,000,000
Total SF: 49,000
Construction Jobs: 37

Two parcels of land near Suffolk Downs and the Orient Heights Blue Line station will be redeveloped with a four-story apartment building containing 44 two-bedroom units, six of which will be designated as affordable. The development at 1181 Bennington Street will significantly improve the state of the property, where a car repair lot that has received several environmental violations is currently located.

The development team, which won unanimous support from the Orient Heights Neighborhood Council after scaling down the project based on community feedback, will contribute $75,000 over ten years to support research and education at nearby Belle Isle Marsh. Community members expressed optimism at the prospect of cleaning up the site, and the project will include lighting and security cameras at the rear of the building to discourage loitering and illegal dumping. The developer will work with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to make substantial landscaping improvements to the property as well.

32-unit development approved for Cambridge Street parcel in Allston

Total Project Cost: $7,000,000
Total SF: 48,500
Construction Jobs: 35

Legend Development Group received approval to construct a five-story condominium building on the site of a parking lot that previously served a veterans hall that has been closed for several years. The 32-unit building at 392-398 Cambridge Street in Allston will include 28 two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom units. Four of the units will be designated as affordable.

The project’s 5,100 square feet of street level retail space will help to further enhance the neighborhood, which is already home to a mix of multi-family residential buildings and commercial storefronts. A 17-space surface parking lot will serve retail customers, and residents will have access to an underground garage at the rear of the building.

The developer hopes to complete the project within 12 to 15 months of breaking ground.

Boston University’s Myles Standish Hall to undergo first significant renovation

Total Project Cost: $140,000,000
Total SF: 203,000
Construction Jobs: 604

The Fenway neighborhood has seen a sweeping revitalization in recent years, but a Boston University dormitory at the corner of Beacon Street and Bay State Road has remained relatively unchanged for decades. That is about to change under a renovation plan approved by the BRA board last night. Myles Standish Hall and the adjoining annex, which were originally constructed in the 1920s, will be modernized during a three-phase, 30-month renovation that is set to begin this spring.

University officials won approval to fully rehabilitate the exterior of the building and to renovate the interior to house 730 student beds and associated amenities. The building’s original architectural features, such as the large arched windows and wrought iron detailing, will be restored to reflect their original charm. Key public realm enhancements associated with the project include new sidewalks, benches, street trees, pedestrian ramps, bicycle racks, and a 5,500 square foot pedestrian plaza.

During the renovations, students will be temporarily housed in a building that Boston University owns at 1047 Commonwealth Ave.

St. Mark’s neighborhood of Dorchester adds housing

Total Project Cost: $3,500,000
Total SF: 21,960
Construction Jobs: 16

Connelly Construction will develop a three-story residential building with 18 rental units, a fitness room, and bicycle storage at 8 Banton Street in the St. Mark’s area of Dorchester. The building will have 14 two-bedroom apartments, two of which will be designated as affordable, and four one-bedroom units.

Designed by Spalding Tougias Architects, the building’s exterior will be clad in multi-colored cement panels that give it a light and airy feel. Residents will be able to enjoy private balconies attached to the apartments.

The developer expects to begin construction this year.

Former rivet factory in South Boston to be renovated and expanded for commercial office space, retail, and fitness club

Total Project Cost: $25,000,000
Total SF: 78,700
Construction Jobs: 48

A three-story brick and beam building in South Boston that used to be home to the Standard Rivet Company will be renovated and expanded as part of a project that will result in nearly 52,000 square feet of new commercial office space and 12,000 square feet of ground-floor space to be used for retail tenants and a fitness club. Located within walking distance of Broadway Station on the Red Line, the project at 69 A Street will feature a three-story addition atop the existing structure and a six-story extension at the rear. A two-story building will be demolished to make way for the rear extension.

The developer expects the project to meet a unique need for commercial office space in the neighborhood, which has seen a flurry of residential projects in recent years. RODE Architects designed the addition and extension of the building with a sufficient setback so that it fits comfortably within the context of the surrounding area.

Condos set to take the place of tavern and diner in South Boston

Total Project Cost: $4,600,000
Total SF: 21,677
Construction Jobs: 16

A triangular shaped parcel of land at the intersection of West Third, West Second, and A Streets in South Boston will soon be cleared for construction to begin on a six-story condominium building near Broadway Station. Williams Tavern and My Diner, which currently occupy the site, will be replaced with nine condominium units and a small ground floor retail space that could be used for a restaurant. The building will contain eight two-bedroom units and one four-bedroom penthouse.

Residents will have access to a common roof deck, and the penthouse will have its own private roof deck.