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News & Updates

BPDA approves Net Zero Carbon Zoning

Jun 13, 2024

$290,000 disbursed to support DEI initiatives and South End community organizations

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board of Directors Thursday approved the Net Zero Carbon Zoning initiative, and authorized initiatives focused on resilience and assessing land uses across the City. The Board also approved four new development projects and one renovation of a current building, representing a total of approximately 611,351 square feet (SF). The new development projects will create 420 residential units, 232 of which are designated income-restricted, and will support approximately 558 construction jobs and four permanent jobs. These projects will make Boston a more resilient, affordable, and equitable city. 

Planning & Zoning

Board approves new Net Zero Carbon Zoning

The BPDA Board of Directors approved a petition to the Zoning Commission to amend the zoning code to include Net Zero Carbon (NZC) Zoning. This new zoning will introduce sustainability requirements for development projects that support the City’s goals of being carbon-neutral by 2050. Buildings account for nearly 71 percent of our community’s carbon emissions, and can be designed to minimize emissions and climate impact by reducing energy use, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, increasing electrification, and using renewable energy sources. NZC Zoning introduces a net zero emissions standard for new project filings after July 1, 2025 with 15 units or more, a minimum of 20,000 square feet, or additions of a minimum of 50,000 square feet or more to existing buildings. Moving forward, projects will demonstrate compliance with this standard during Article 80 Review. In addition, Small and Large Projects, as defined in Article 80, will be required to report on embodied carbon. Large Projects will also be required to conduct an embodied CO2e emissions life cycle assessment analysis. These amendments build upon and better reflect updated state building codes and city ordinances, including the Specialized Stretch Energy Code and Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO), respectively. This amendment will now need approval by the Zoning Commission. 

Real Estate

Board approves Flood Resilience Planning, Feasibility, and Design Study for the Charlestown Navy Yard

The BPDA Board of Directors authorized a contract with Arcadis US, Inc. for a flood resilience planning, feasibility, and design study in the Charlestown Navy Yard. The project will build off of the climate vulnerability analysis and resilient strategies developed through Climate Ready Boston (2016) and Coastal Resilient Solutions for East Boston and Charlestown (Phase II) (2022). The study will analyze site conditions and develop implementable design options to contribute to the protection of portions of the Charlestown Navy Yard from future sea level rise and coastal storm events. The project will plan and develop the next flood resilient design solutions for the many properties at risk as well as the adjacent neighborhood. The project includes the area between Pier 3 and Barry Playground and the Little Mystic Channel. The BPDA Coastal Resilience Infrastructure Delivery Team will be liaisons with the City’s Environment Department, property owners, and all state and federal agencies during this work. 

Board authorizes Request for Proposals to prepare a City-Wide Land Use Needs Assessment

The BPDA Board of Directors authorized the release of an RFP for a City-Wide Land Use Needs Assessment. This Assessment is meant to encourage the City’s goals of development that supports housing, vibrant business districts, and a strong regional economy, as well as a shift from reactive to proactive planning with the newly established Planning Department. The goals for this assessment are to analyze land use needs, economic and demographic trends, and recommend strategies for equitable growth. The Assessment will act as an important tool for future planning efforts all across the City. A consultant to conduct this assessment will be selected in the next few months.

Development Projects

Project at 539-551 Centre Street, also known as the Forbes Building, will fully renovate affordable housing apartment building

Live: The renovation of 147 income-restricted units

Work: Approximately 129 construction jobs

Connect: 32 indoor bicycle parking spots 

Sustain: LEED Gold

A longtime multi-family affordable housing building with 147 residential units will be fully renovated. The existing Forbes Building will be rehabilitated with a new façade and mechanical systems to bring the existing building performance in-line with the City’s Article 37 sustainable development requirements. The building’s footprint will not change. The parking on site will also be reduced and some spaces will be made EV ready. There will also be parking for 32 bicycles, as well as a bikeshare dock on site. In support of public transportation, this project will also install a new bus shelter at the nearby MBTA bus stop. The project will improve the public realm with better sidewalks and new streetscape, and will support City open space goals by adding green space, gardens, and new trees. 

22-24 Pratt Street project to bring new multi-family housing to Allston

Live: 318 residential units, 54 income-restricted units

Work: Approximately 378 construction jobs

Connect: Open space, public realm improvements, potentially connecting adjacent developments

Sustain: 100% electric systems, LEED Gold, Passive House, EV parking on site

This project in Allston will build a new 16-story, 318-unit multi-family housing development on what is currently an underutilized industrial site. Of the 318 units, 54 will be income-restricted. This project is responsive to the recently approved Allston-Brighton Needs Assessment by increasing housing that is accessible, affordable, and transit-oriented. The project is in close proximity to public transportation, including the MBTA Green Line and Commuter Rail, and multiple bus routes. In addition, this project will include a Bluebikes station on site, and contribute $87,450 to the Boston Transportation Department to support the bikeshare system. The Assessment also identified the need for more publicly accessible open space which this project will also contribute. A key urban design consideration of staff during the review of the project was the design of the landscaped open space. The project team will continue to work with BPDA Urban Design staff to address any future wind concerns. This project will also contribute to the overall walkability and transit-oriented development described in the Allston-Brighton Mobility Study. 

Project at 157 Humboldt Avenue and 76 Waumbeck Street will build 100 percent income restricted new homes

Live: 26 income-restricted units

Work: Approximately 30 construction jobs, 2 facilities jobs

Connect: Community event space

Sustain: LEED Gold

This project will revitalize what is currently a vacant building that has not been used in more than 30 years, and the adjacent vacant land into 100 percent income-restricted family housing for the community. This will be a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. These new buildings will be energy efficient and also include community space. 

257 Washington Street project to bring new housing to Dorchester

Live: 48 residential units, 10 income restricted

Work: Ground floor retail, approximately 40 construction jobs

Connect: 76 walk score

Sustain: EV parking, 70 bicycle parking spaces

This project will convert an auto body shop and junkyard in Dorchester into 48 residential units, including ten income-restricted units. Its location on Washington Street was identified in the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative Four Corners/Geneva Station Area Plan as an opportunity to “leverage vacant and underused lots.” The four-story building will have a bike room with 70 bicycle parking spaces, a common roof deck, and a fitness center for residents. There will be three studio units, 27 one-bedroom units, 13 two-bedroom units, and five three-bedroom units to allow for a variety of household sizes. Ground-floor retail space will also promote active streets in the neighborhood.

Project at 9 Geneva Street in East Boston will create new housing

Live: 28 residential units, 5 income-restricted

Work: Approximately 36 construction jobs

Connect: Public realm improvements to Geneva Street

Sustain: 2050 zero-net carbon

This project will combine seven parcels in East Boston to create a new five-story 28-unit apartment building. Five of the units will be income-restricted. This project aligns with PLAN: East Boston and the Coastal Flood Resilience Overlay District resilient design standards. The project is a transit-oriented development, as it is within walking distance of both Maverick and Airport stations on the MBTA Blue Line. In alignment with PLAN: East Boston, the project will add a sidewalk connection to Maverick Street and street trees along the new sidewalk for shade and pedestrian comfort. Additionally, a $5,000 contribution will be made to Tree Eastie, a not-for-profit corporation that supports the continued expansion of the tree canopy in East Boston.

In addition to these projects, the board approved:

  • The disbursement of $205,000 from the South End Article 80 Project Community Benefits Fund to benefit 17 community organizations serving the South End neighborhood.

  • A grant agreement with the Builders of Color Coalition for the disbursement of $45,000 from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in support of the Building a Career in Boston Real Estate and CRE Boston Youth Summit programs.

  • A grant agreement with Boston Architectural College for the disbursement of $40,000 from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in support of the 2024 Urban Design & Planning Fellows Pre-College Program.

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