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News & Updates

BPDA Board adopts Western Avenue Corridor Study and Rezoning plan that will address development pressure and transportation challenges

Oct 13, 2022

New life science developments in the South End and on the South Boston Waterfront will create thousands of jobs

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board of Directors this month approved four new development projects representing 1,781,159 square feet (SF). The new projects will create 378 residential units, 75 of which will be designated income-restricted, and will support approximately 1,620 construction jobs and 2,875 permanent jobs.

Planning and Urban Design

Western Avenue Corridor Study and Rezoning adopted by BPDA Board

The Western Avenue Corridor Study and Rezoning initiative was launched by the BPDA in September of 2019 to address development pressure and transportation challenges in the formerly industrial corridor stretching through both Allston and Brighton. In the past three years, the BPDA convened numerous public engagements to shape the planning recommendations. The effort has culminated in a series of zoning, urban design, and transportation guidelines that are designed to give the community more predictability in the face of significant development pressure, and unlock key public amenities as the neighborhood continues to grow. The plan enables for higher density mixed-use development near transit, and encourages residential and cultural uses everywhere within the study’s area. The plan also calls for an improved network of sidewalks and paths that would better connect the neighborhood to the Charles River Reservation. To reduce congestion and improve mobility, the plan recommends the implementation of a Western Avenue Transitway, which would see dedicated bus lanes and low stress bike lanes in the corridor. After approval by the BPDA Board, zoning recommendations in the plan will now go in front of the Boston Zoning Commission for approval.

BPDA to issue RFP to develop city design vision

Working in alignment with Mayor Wu’s goals for resilient, equitable, and connected communities, the BPDA will release an RFP to develop a design vision rooted in the diversity of Boston’s people and places. This is a key component of the BPDA’s efforts to craft a beautiful, human-scale, and inclusive vision for the design of the built environment in Boston. The BPDA plans to engage with a wide range of subject experts and community members during the study.

Development Projects

244-284 A Street project moves forward with significant commitments to arts, open space, and resiliency in the Fort Point neighborhood

Live: 340 units, 68 income-restricted units, approximately 75 percent of the income-restricted units will be designated as artist live/work housing, shared artist workspace, family amenities that promote community engagement and wellness
Work: Slated to create thousands of new construction and permanent jobs, subsidized ground floor retail space, $300k contributions to BPS STEM programs
Connect: Civic and cultural space, 3.6 acres of open space, watersheet activation along Harborwalk, performing arts amphitheater, children’s nature play area, interactive water feature, outdoor public art program, public restrooms
Sustain: LEED Gold - targeting Platinum, fully integrated flood protection berm against sea level rise, reduction of stormwater discharge into Fort Point Channel, new porous landscaping, nearly 200 new trees to reduce heat island effect

This project in Fort Point will build three new buildings and an underground parking garage for vehicles and bikes. The development incorporates significant commitments to affordable housing, open space, civic and cultural space, environmental resilience, and the arts community in Fort Point. The buildings include a mixed-use residential building, commercial building, and a laboratory/research and development facility. The residential building will include 340 units, as well as commercial, retail, and public space on the ground floor. Of those 340 units, 20 percent will be income-restricted, and approximately 75 percent of the income-restricted units will be designated as artist live/work housing. The commercial and laboratory buildings will also include commercial, retail, and public space on the ground floors. The retail space will be discounted by 50 percent to market rent to City- or State-certified small disadvantaged businesses. This development will be designed in a manner to ensure connectivity between ground-level uses and open space, encourage restaurants from a variety of price points, and provide year-round public spaces. A mix of programming in this space will promote a vibrant, accessible, and equitable environment.

Integrated into the building of this development is a flood protection barrier known as a berm, which is intended to be part of a larger resiliency effort to the existing neighborhood in response to the threat of sea level rise and storm surge. The berm is designed to protect up to the 1-percent annual chance flood level, with 40 inches of sea level rise predicted by 2070. The berm will be an integral part of the newly constructed Fort Point Channel Park, and provide increased access to open space. The design will provide a seamless connection from Fort Point Channel to the new public parks and public realm improvements to be constructed on the site, and beyond into the larger community.

What are currently parking lots on the project site will be converted into three new public parks: Necco Street Park, Fort Point Channel Park, and Binford Open Space. The parks will support a range of uses including hosting events, art, and play areas. The project will also improve the existing Harborwalk by raising it to account for future sea level rise, and adding new pathways, landscaping, and accessible ramps. This development will also provide approximately 15,000 square feet of civic/cultural space in support of the Fort Point artists community, and also to develop an inclusive waterfront destination for all Bostonians. The new Fort Point Channel Park will include a new waterfront performing arts amphitheater which will hold more than 900 people. The project will also provide a comprehensive public art program by funding $3.7 million to public art onsite, drawing from a diverse group of artists that promotes equitable access to interior and exterior public spaces through art. A minimum of 25 percent of the public art budget will go towards BIPOC and women artists. The developer will work with the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture on a selection process aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through art.

Life sciences development at 24 Drydock Avenue will stimulate jobs, support marine industrial economy on the South Boston Waterfront

Work: Slated to create hundreds of construction jobs and permanent jobs, partnering with Madison Park Technical Vocational High School to create training pathways to union construction jobs
Connect: 4,000 SF dedicated to nonprofit organization training space, shuttle service from Nubian Square to South Boston Waterfront, public realm improvements, new Bluebikes station
Sustain: LEED Gold, designed to meet City of Boston 2070 project sea level rise

Located on BPDA-owned land in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park (RLFMP), this project will build a new eight-story life sciences development, which also includes marine industrial use and supportive uses for the adjacent Boston Ship Repair (BSR) business. These supportive uses include office use for BSR, training and classroom use for BSR, and a ground floor restaurant and lunch counter with the primary purpose of serving BSR employees. In addition to the life science and cutting-edge research and development uses in the building, the project will ensure the crucial functions of BSR thrive in the RLFMP, preserving the ship repair industry in Boston for future generations. The mixed-use project supports the RLFMP's mission to promote and create Boston-based jobs, and provide a reserve for industrial businesses. The life sciences uses of the site are also consistent with the Marine Park Master Plan Update of encouraging new economy uses.

This project will enhance the surrounding streetscape and create a pedestrian-oriented public realm that creates a safe and welcoming environment, while continuing to support the needs of truck traffic in the RLFMP. In addition to improving surrounding roadways and sidewalks, the project will also create a publicly accessible landscaped plaza. Building utilities will be located above ground to protect against sea level rise, and provide additional layers of resiliency to ensure the longevity and performance of the building into the future. The first-floor has also been raised four feet to meet projected sea level rise. Several nonprofit organizations will provide training and workforce development space within the building. These organizations include English for the New Bostonians, Save the Harbor/ Save the Bay, and Ron Burton Training Village. Public benefits of this project include working with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to expand the existing shuttle service, and provide a new shuttle from Nubian Square to the RLFMP and other locations throughout the Seaport District. The expanded service will offer residents access to the benefits of the growing area. This project will also improve the public realm by expanding sidewalks, upgrading landscaping, street lighting and access to new public open space. In addition, the 24 Drydock Avenue project will generate approximately $1,772,875.00 in housing linkage and $325,936.25 in jobs linkage.

120 Bowdoin Street project brings transit-oriented housing to Dorchester

Live: 38 rental units, seven income-restricted units
Work: Subsidized retail space, minority-owned Boston-based developer, creation of approximately 50 construction jobs
Connect: New MBTA bus shelter, close proximity to public transportation, pedestrian gateway to Geneva Cliffs Sustain: Solar roof

This project in Dorchester will convert what is now vacant land into a new five-story mixed-use building comprised of housing and retail space. The rent to lease the retail space will be subsidized. The building will contain 38 new units, seven of which will be income-restricted. Market-rate housing will provide desperately needed new housing choices including family-size units, and new income-restricted housing will ensure the new supply benefits those most impacted by the regional housing crisis. In addition, the design of the building acknowledges the local context of triple decker residential buildings, and contributes to the urban fabric with an active ground floor with retail space, and a welcoming public entrance with a new shaded sidewalk path to the Geneva Cliffs. It will also include a solar roof, in support of sustainability goals. This transit oriented development is in close proximity to the MBTA Red Line, as well as several bus routes. It will also include a dedicated bike room onsite. The project will also contribute $10,175 to the Boston Transportation Department in support of the Bluebikes program. In addition, the project will contribute up to $12,000 to the MBTA to build a new bus shelter at either a new stop in front of the project, or at a current stop nearby. As part of the public benefits to the project, it will support the Geneva Cliffs Park with a contribution of $40,000 to the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. The project will also make a $20,000 contribution to the Boston Center for Youth and Families (BCYF) to support recreation spaces at the nearby BCYF Holland.

Project at 65 Wareham Street to build new laboratory, office space in the South End

Work: Estimated to create hundreds of permanent jobs
Connect: Close proximity to public transportation and Harborwalk multi-use path, 35 bike parking spaces, contributions to support cultural space and programming
Sustain: 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions, targeting 91 percent reduction in fossil fuel consumption

Preserving the existing facade of three buildings on Wareham Street in the South End, this project will build new lab/office space, as well as retail space, creating hundreds of new jobs. The building will total five stories once completed. The street-level retail use will activate the Wareham Street side of the development. This project will improve the public realm by replacing all sidewalks on the easterly side of Plympton Street (in addition to curbing and sidewalk adjacent to its property) with new granite curbing and concrete sidewalks. In addition, the project will support parks, open space, and South End cultural programming with a $25,000 contribution. This project will also provide a cash fund up to $50,000 for selected local not-for-profit organizations, including City Lights Performing Arts and the South End Soccer program. The developer will work with the project’s Impact Advisory Group (IAG) to determine further future beneficiaries and appropriate allocation. The project will also contribute up to $75,000 towards the City’s Bluebikes program, and $25,000 to the City of Boston Affordable Cultural Space Fund to help create new cultural space or fund existing cultural space in the South End.

In addition to these projects, the Board approved:

  • An update to a previously approved project at Frankfort + Gove in East Boston: The project is going through a change in ownership. Some of the condominium units will also be converted to rental units.
  • An addition to the Berklee College Institutional Master Plan: 12 Hemenway Street in Fenway will be renovated to accommodate approximately 110 students.

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