BRA Board approves $160 Million in new projects at August 14 meeting
Aug 15, 2014
Also passes enhanced policies to improve disclosure and transparency; authorizes secondary audit of BRA’s Planning Division
Last night, the Board of Directors for the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approved three development projects and authorized several other significant policy and planning initiatives. The three approved projects, which will put more than 480 trades people to work, represent over $160 million of new investment in Boston’s neighborhoods and will total over 400,000 square feet when constructed. Two of the projects will add a combined 280 units of new housing in Brighton and South Boston.
Boston Landing project adds residential and retail components, modifies plan for sports facility
Total Project Cost: $125,000,000
Total SF: 310,000
Construction Jobs: 378
The BRA Board approved the third amendment to the Planned Development Area (PDA) for Boston Landing, a mixed-use development of office, retail, sports facilities, hotel, open space, and parking adjacent to the New Balance world headquarters. Originally approved as a Master Plan PDA in June 2012 by the BRA, the latest approvals allow the developer to construct 250 units of housing at 125 Guest Street with the goal of creating a truly mixed-use district that will foster an 18-hour a day live/work environment. To compliment the new residential component, the Board also approved an additional 15,000 square feet of retail space at the site.
The project proponent secured additional approval to modify the planned sports facility at Boston Landing in order to accommodate basketball and hockey uses. It was reported in July that the Boston Bruins signed a letter of intent for a long-term lease of the hockey rink to serve as the team’s new practice facility starting in 2016.
Guidance from the Brighton/Guest Street Planning Study laid the foundation for a new vision for this important neighborhood corridor. Boston Landing LLC is the developer and HYM Investments is the co-developer. Elkus Manfredi is the project architect.
30 B Street brings new market rate and affordable housing to South Boston
Total Project Cost: $13,000,000
Total SF: 40,060
Construction Jobs: 39
The BRA Board approved the construction of 32 condominiums, four of which will be affordable units, at 30 B Street in South Boston. The project at the corner of B Street and West Sixth Street will raze three existing one-story structures to make way for a five-story residential building that includes 33 on-site and off-street parking spaces, enclosed bicycle parking, and open space improvements. The transit-oriented development will be within walking distance of the Broadway Station on the MBTA Red Line and will be served by three bus lines that provide transportation to downtown Boston, Cambridge, and other areas of South Boston.
As currently proposed, the development includes ten one-bedroom units, fourteen two-bedroom units, and eight three-bedroom units. In addition to the four on-site affordable units, the developer will contribute $40,000 to the City’s Inclusionary Development Policy Fund for affordable housing.
GFC Development, Inc is the project developer, and Embarc Studio Architecture + Design is the architect.
KIPP Academy Boston Charter School in Mattapan will serve K-8 students
Total Project Cost: $22,500,000
Total SF: 53,000
Construction Jobs: 68
After operating out of two temporary spaces in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury since 2012, the BRA Board approved a project that paves the way for KIPP Academy Boston Charter School to take up a permanent home in Mattapan. KIPP Boston Fund, Inc., the project developer, will construct an approximately 53,000 square foot school at 1464 Blue Hill Avenue that will include a four-story classroom building, a two-story cafeteria and administrative offices, and a one-story gymnasium to serve elementary and middle school students. The school is designed to house up to 650 students and 84 faculty and staff.
The gymnasium, which will provide students with opportunities for physical activity and have the ability to accommodate large assemblies, will have a separate access to allow for community uses during non-school hours. Located adjacent to the MBTA Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, the school will also include a protected outdoor play area on the northern side of the site.
Arrowstreet is the lead architect, and Copley-Wolff Design Group is the landscape architect on the project.
P-3 Partners, LLC granted extension of tentative designation for Tremont Crossing
In June, the BRA Board voted to extend the tentative designation of P-3 Partners, LLC as the redeveloper of Parcel P-3 in Roxbury until August 14, 2014. The extension was intended to offer the developer additional time to secure tenants and financing.
BRA staff in the departments of Finance, Economic Development, and Planning and Urban Design met with members of the P-3 Partners team during this time and noted elements of progress while also providing guidance for the proposed Tremont Crossing project. Given the complexities of the project, the BRA Board voted to extend the developer’s tentative designation by an additional month. By September 18, 2014, P-3 Partners is expected to be able to articulate a clear funding plan and demonstrate concrete interest on the part of prospective retail, office, and commercial tenants.
New policies adopted to improve transparency in land takings and transfers, Planned Development Areas, and disclosure of potential conflicts of interest
The BRA has been exploring ways to improve transparency throughout the agency, and the Board last night voted to approve several new guidelines to further this goal.
Typically the BRA’s land disposition process includes a Request for Proposals (RFP) and a community process that allows for input from stakeholders. In the rare instances when an RFP is not issued and a community process does not occur, the BRA will implement measures that allow stakeholders to provide feedback about proposed land dispositions. Developers requesting takings and transfers will now be required to provide the BRA with a map and description of the proposed project and their strategy for redevelopment. Land transfers involving BRA-owned parcels will be subject to the same documentation requirements. This information will be made public on the BRA’s website, and staff will advertise for and host a public meeting regarding the proposed actions, followed by a public comment period lasting ten business days after the meeting. Comments will be reviewed by staff and reported to the BRA Board before any further actions are taken.
The BRA Board also approved a policy to improve the integrity of special zoning overlay districts known as Planned Development Areas (PDAs). A PDA is designed to accommodate large-scale, complex developments that do not necessarily conform in uses or scale with existing zoning. The PDA provides greater flexibility in zoning as well as public benefits for the surrounding community and neighborhood. PDAs were never intended to be used as a way of avoiding the Zoning Board of Appeal, however, and the newly enacted policy will help preserve the original intent of the mechanism by strengthening the criteria for how and when PDAs are granted.
Finally, the Board took action to help better identify potential conflicts of interest during the Article 80 development review process by requiring project proponents to submit more thorough and timely disclosure statements. A loophole in the current policy makes it possible for a project to gain Article 80 approval without the BRA knowing of all of project investors or potential conflicts of interest. The new disclosure statements mandate that anyone with a beneficial interest in significant development projects identify the extent of their interests at the outset of the Article 80 process. In doing so, the BRA hopes to foster public trust and minimize conflicts of interest.
Secondary audit of BRA’s Planning Department set to move forward
The BRA Board approved a request from Acting Director Brian Golden to engage an outside consultant to complete an end-to-end audit of the BRA Planning Department’s activities, processes, and procedures, as recommended by KPMG’s audit of the BRA that was completed and released by Mayor Martin J. Walsh in July.
With the Board’s approval to proceed, BRA staff will now develop a scope of work to help guide the independent consultant and begin to evaluate potential firms to complete the project. While a target completion date for the review has not yet been identified, Acting Director Golden and senior staff will continue to implement reforms to improve transparency and accountability at the agency in the meantime.