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BRA approves eight new projects totaling over $401 million at August board meeting

Aug 14, 2015

Hundreds of new housing units, two hotels, and expanded home for arts nonprofit part of approvals
With a full agenda of proposed developments across the city to consider, the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Board of Directors approved eight projects at last night’s meeting. Among the many proposals that won support were a large downtown affordable and workforce housing project, a new hotel in the South End, an expanded home for Artists for Humanity, and apartments in Dorchester for persons with disabilities.
Combined, the approved projects represent $401.6 million worth of investment in Boston’s economy, and they are expected to create 695 construction jobs. The 471,000 square feet of approved residential projects will produce a total of 413 new units of housing.
It was the last meeting for outgoing board members Paul Foster, who has served since 2006, and Consuelo Gonzales-Thornell, the treasurer of the board who has served since 1989. Next month, Priscilla Rojas, an experienced auditor, and Carol Downs, a small business owner in Jamaica Plain, will assume positions on the board. Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced their appointments in July.
The following is a summary of the projects that received approval.

Hundreds of affordable, workforce housing units and a hotel slated for Bullfinch Triangle

Total Project Cost: $220,000,000
Total SF: 414,700
Construction Jobs: 381
Related Beal won approval to construct what will be one of the largest entirely affordable and workforce residential projects in Boston. Known as Parcels 1B and 1C (formerly “The Merano” project), the development will include 239 rental units aimed at households making between 30 and 165 percent of area median income. With no market-rate units, the project represents a departure from the recent wave of high-end downtown housing developments. Related’s proposal supports Mayor Walsh’s goal of adding 20,000 new middle-income units to Boston’s housing stock over the next 15 years.
The mixed-use project, designed by CBT Architects to be LEED Silver certifiable, will also include a 220 key hotel and 10,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. Residents and hotel guests will have convenient access to the nearby North Station transit-hub. A 220-space parking garage served by valet operators will be available to tenants and guests.
Apart from the housing component, the developer has committed to a number of other benefits. Related Beal will make a $500,000 contribution to design and build a new park. Several hundred thousand dollars will be dedicated to other infrastructure improvements in the neighborhood. And to meet the project’s linkage obligations, the developer will contribute over $467,000 to the Neighborhood Housing Trust and more than $93,500 to the Neighborhood Jobs Trust.
Related Beal is seeking a 121A tax agreement to help finance a portion the project and to offset the high cost of land and construction downtown.

Former industrial site in Jamaica Plain’s Egleston Square to be revitalized with new housing and retail

Total Project Cost: $25,000,000
Total SF: 100,000
Construction Jobs: 72
Vacant industrial buildings and an automotive repair shop will be cleared to make way for 76 residential units and nearly 4,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space at 3200 Washington Street in Jamaica Plain. The project will be comprised of three building sections, with an open courtyard for residents situated atop a 41-space parking garage. The two buildings along Washington Street, connected by a common lobby, will each contain retail space and bicycle storage for residents.
The developer for 3200 Washington Street recently won a competitive bid administered by the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development to redevelop a parcel on Montebello Road. By incorporating this parcel into the overall development plan, 3200 Washington Street will include six more affordable units than originally proposed. With a total of 18 affordable units, nearly 24 percent of the project’s housing will be affordable, which exceeds the requirements of Boston’s Inclusionary Development Policy.
RODE Architects adjusted the design of the project based on feedback from community members so that the top floor of the six-story buildings on Washington Street are set back from the rest of the façade. Variations in the buildings’ massing will help the project fit in with the scale of the surrounding neighborhood.
Two weeks ago, the BRA launched a planning study for the Washington Street corridor that will inform future development in the area.

AC Hotel marks latest addition to growing area of the South End anchored by Ink Block

Total Project Cost: $50,000,000
Total SF: 95,000
Construction Jobs: 73
The BRA’s board approved National Development’s plan to construct a six-story, 200 room hotel on Albany Street adjacent to the Ink Block. The European-style AC Hotel South End aims to attract travelers seeking to experience the local flavor of the neighborhood. By redeveloping two vacant buildings, the project is intended to further the goals of the BRA’s Harrison-Albany Corridor Strategic Plan, which calls for transforming this corner of the South End into a vibrant mixed-use community.
Elkus Manfredi Architects will design the hotel to have a cosmopolitan feel. Passersby will be able to enjoy a new public art gallery, for example, that has views from the street. The hotel’s lobby will include dining, bar, and lounge areas, conference rooms, and a fitness center with an indoor pool.
National Development has agreed to contribute $70,000 to fund improvements to the popular Peter’s Park in the South End. The developer will also contribute $30,000 to the Main Streets organization in nearby Chinatown, which assists small businesses.

South Boston’s Artists for Humanity receives go-ahead to triple capacity of existing facility

Total Project Cost: $30,000,000
Total SF: 57,000
Construction Jobs: 37
Artists for Humanity (AFH), which pioneered the idea of bridging economic, racial, and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design, will be able to expand its programming into 57,000 square feet of new space. Known as the EpiCenter, AFH’s current 24,000 square foot facility was Boston’s first LEED Platinum building when it opened in 2004. The approved expansion project aims to be an example of sustainable design in its own right, as AFH hopes that the building will become New England’s first energy positive commercial structure.
The EpiCenter has grown into the largest employer of teens in Boston, and the demand from young people looking to express their creative talents now exceeds the capacity of the facility. Expanded studio space will allow AFH to provide educational and employment opportunities to more young people. The nonprofit organization wants to foster even more community involvement by opening a makers studio that will accommodate classes, a new gallery, and cultural events.
The expansion, which was designed by the Boston arm of Germany’s Behnisch Architekten, features an eye-catching honeycomb façade and a rooftop solar panel array to reduce energy consumption.


Harmon Apartments in Dorchester will provide independent living opportunity for persons with disabilities

Total Project Cost: $14,100,000
Total SF: 43,676
Construction Jobs: 33
The Boston Home, an organization that serves adults with multiple sclerosis and other progressive neurological diseases, was granted approval to construct a new independent living facility on its Dorchester campus. The project, known as Harmon Apartments and named for The Boston Home’s founder Cordelia Harmon, will be a mixed-income, four-story building with 36 residential rental units and 21 off-street parking spaces.
The apartments will provide affordable, accessible housing for persons with disabilities, giving residents an opportunity to live independently within the community instead of in an alternative care setting. The developer will seek public funding so that 26 of the units can be made available to households earning up to 60 percent of area median income and four of the units can be made available to households earning up to 30 percent of area median income. The other six units will be market-rate. Harmon Apartments, designed by DiMella Shaffer, will have 26 one-bedroom units and ten two-bedroom units.
The Boston Home plans to begin construction next year.

Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation set to build new housing for low-income residents in Dorchester

Total Project Cost: $14,500,000
Total SF: 43,537
Construction Jobs: 31
The BRA board offered its support for Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation’s Four Corners Plaza project, an entirely affordable development with 31 rental units and 9,200 square feet of commercial space. The project is comprised of two buildings, one of which will contain 28 units and the commercial space, while the second building will consist of three townhouses.
The units will be a combination of three studios, eight one-bedroom apartments, 17 two-bedroom apartments, and three three-bedroom apartments. With the help of public funding, all 31 units will be made available to households earning up to 60 percent of area median income.
Four Corners Plaza was designed by DHK Architects. The developer plans to begin construction on the project in 2017.


Former gas station site in Brighton to be redeveloped with housing and retail space

Total Project Cost: $18,000,000
Total SF: 49,848
Construction Jobs: 37
The site of a former gas station at 1650 Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton will be transformed into a five-story development with 40 condominiums, 2,400 square feet of retail space, and a fitness center for residents. The developer anticipates a mix of 12 one-bedroom units, 25 two-bedroom units, and three three-bedroom units. Five of the units will be deed restricted as affordable, in accordance with the Inclusionary Development Policy.
The developer has agreed to make a $35,000 contribution to the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to fund improvements to green space in Allston-Brighton.
Construction is expected to begin in late fall, and the developer hopes to complete the project by summer of 2016.


New athletic facilities approved for Roxbury Latin School

Total Project Cost: $30,000,000
Total SF: 47,580
Construction Jobs: 32
Roxbury Latin School, which was founded in 1645 and offers independent secondary education to approximately 300 young men in grades seven through 12, will move ahead with upgrades to the athletic facilities on its 100-acre campus in West Roxbury.
The project involves several components. The school will construct an addition to its existing indoor athletic facility so that it can expand its current athletic and academic offerings. Students will have greater access to the school’s fitness and wellness center and other programs during school hours. The new building will house space for an ice hockey rink, indoor soccer, football, and other sports. In addition to the indoor facility, the school will construct eight new tennis courts and revamp its existing athletic fields.
Roxbury Latin will continue its longstanding commitment to supporting local youth organizations in West Roxbury by opening the school’s facilities to various community groups. The school will also install trees and new landscaping to help buffer the facilities from the surrounding neighborhood.

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