In 2019, BPDA approved over 10.2 million SF of New Development, including 4,974 residential units

Brian Golden

BOSTON–The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board in 2019 approved over 10.2 million square feet of new development worth $5.6 billion and 4,974 residential units, including 1,216 income-restricted units, representing over 24 percent of total units.

Last year’s Board approved projects will generate over $2 million in new Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) funds and $21.7 million in Linkage fees to support affordable housing and job training. The development projects approved this year will also create 8,462 construction jobs and 7,799 permanent jobs. 

“Under Mayor Walsh, our economy is continuing to thrive and create new opportunities throughout Boston’s neighborhoods. The development projects approved this year have created affordable housing opportunities and new open space, benefited our economy and job market and contributed to workforce development programs,” said Boston Planning & Development Agency Director Brian Golden. “We have an unprecedented number of neighborhood planning studies underway that allow us to listen to residents and shape the future of Boston together with the community.”

The residential units approved this year make progress towards Mayor Walsh’s goal to create 69,000 new units of housing by the year 2030, as called for in the Administration’s housing plan Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030. This fall, Mayor Walsh announced that Boston had surpassed 30,000 units permitted, including 6,000 income-restricted units, under the plan. 

The BPDA held approximately 458 Agency-sponsored meetings across every single Boston neighborhood, open to the public and advertised on the BPDA website in 2019. These meetings included a series of community meetings on urban renewal that gave the public an opportunity to learn more about the urban renewal process and provide input on next steps.

In November, the BPDA celebrated more than 105 PLAN: Mattapan community engagement events since the planning study began. This year the BPDA also announced two new strategic planning and rezoning efforts: PLAN: Charlestown and the Western Avenue Corridor Study and Rezoning in Allston-Brighton. The formal public process for PLAN: Charlestown is expected to begin in early 2020.

Each strategic planning effort is guided by Imagine Boston 2030, Boston’s first citywide plan in 50 years aimed at guiding growth. Imagine Boston 2030 prioritizes inclusionary growth and puts forth a comprehensive vision to boost quality of life, equity and resilience in every neighborhood across the City. 

Other highlights from the year include: 

  • GrubStreet, the largest creative writing center in the country, kicked-off construction of new cultural space at 50 Liberty Drive at Fan Pier in the South Boston Waterfront. The narrative arts center will serve as a literary destination with year-round programming for students of all ages and backgrounds.  GrubStreet will receive a $25 per square foot construction allowance — totaling approximately $329,150 toward improvements to the space — and will pay $1 per year in rent. In 2018, Mayor Walsh, the BPDA, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and The Fallon Company announced that GrubStreet had been unanimously selected to operate the space.
  • Mayor Walsh signed a Home Rule Petition that enables the City of Boston to have more flexibility to fund affordable housing and workforce training through Boston’s Linkage Program and would codify IDP into Boston’s Zoning Code to protect the City’s ability to create and fund income-restricted housing. The legislation is now at the Massachusetts State House where Mayor Walsh testified in support in December.
  • Request for Proposals (RFP) were released for Roxbury’s Blair Lot and Nawn Factory and Building 108 in Charlestown. The RFP language includes diversity and inclusion requirements that are now required in all RFPs for publicly owned land.
  • The Charlestown Navy Yard was activated with free public programming, outdoor community gathering space with activities and beer and wine service, connecting residents and visitors to the Navy Yard and waterfront.
  • Mayor Walsh’s Tuition Free Community College Program (TFCC), funded by the Neighborhood Jobs Trust, expanded to Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology and Massasoit Community College.  TFCC was launched by Mayor Walsh in 2016 and pays for up to three years of college for Boston’s income-eligible students who have earned their high school credential.
  • The BPDA worked with the City of Boston’s Disabilities Commission to update the development checklist that prioritizes accessibility and inclusion. The Article 80 Accessibility Checklist provides best practices in accessibility for developers undergoing the development review process.
  • In September the BPDA Board adopted the Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines, building on Climate Ready Boston, Mayor Walsh’s ongoing initiative to help Boston plan for the impacts of climate change and build a more resilient future.