News & Updates

Mayor Menino Announces New Zoning Adopted in the South End

Jan 19, 2012

Progressive New Zoning Creates a District Primed for New Development

Under the incentive program 20% of the units in a residential project must be affordable, which is 5% more than what the Mayor’s Inclusionary Development Policy requires citywide.  The amendment to Article 64 will be the second time in Boston’s history that a 20% affordable housing requirement is included in the zoning code.

Today Mayor Menino announced the Boston Zoning Commission’s unanimous adoption of progressive text and map amendments to the Boston zoning code.  Article 64, which refers to the South End Neighborhood District, will be amended to reflect changes in the Harrison/Albany corridor of the district.  The new zoning creates a  high growth district close to downtown, which will lead to job creation and new investment in the city.  In the next two to three decades the area could grow by as much as 7.3 million square feet. The Harrison/Albany corridor is bounded by the Massachusetts Turnpike to the north, Albany Street/Southeast Expressway/Massachusetts Avenue Connector to the east; Massachusetts Avenue to the south; and Washington Street/Harrison Avenue to the west. The new base development heights adopted into the amended zoning code are between 70 feet and up to 150 feet near the Southeast Expressway/Massachusetts Avenue Connector.  A key feature of the new zoning is a first of its kind incentive program that will allow additional height and density to developers in exchange for specific public use amenities.  Projects larger than one acre and eligible for a Planned Development Area (PDA) designation will be allowed to pursue this option.  Incentive heights vary from 120 feet in parts of the district to 200 feet along the Southeast Expressway. Under the incentive program commercial projects will be required to either provide 5% of their alloted bonus square footage to an onsite non-profit cultural entity, provide 5% of the bonus square footage to an onsite startup business, or provide an equivalent value to a program or loan fund.  This is the first time that cultural and commercial incentives will be included in Boston’s zoning code. Mixed use projects will feature a combination of the residential and commercial incentive requirements, pursuant to the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s approval.  The new zoning also includes a “lot coverage” rule for all projects that requires that 20% of the lot be set aside for public use, like a new street, pedestrian walkway or alley. In March 2008, Mayor Thomas M. Menino requested that the BRA prepare a Strategic Plan for the Harrison Albany corridor to include land use, urban design, transportation, and economic development principles and strategies.  As part of the strategic planning process the Mayor appointed a 30-Member Advisory Group made up of community stakeholders, which held 16 Advisory Group meetings (open to the public) and 2 community-wide meetings over a two and a half year period.  The Harrison-Albany Corridor Strategic Plan was adopted in November 2011by the BRA board and the zoning amendments based on that plan were adopted by the BRA board in December 2011. Click here for comprehensive meeting notes on the planning process

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