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BPDA designates Asian Community Development Corporation to develop Chinatown parcel into over 100 units of affordable housing, Boston Public Library branch

Apr 14, 2022

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board today voted to tentatively designate Asian Community Development Corporation (Asian CDC), to develop the BPDA-owned Parcel R-1 in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. The proposal plans to create a mixed-use development with over 100 units of income-restricted, affordable housing and a permanent Chinatown branch of the Boston Public Library (BPL). The property is located where Hudson Street, Tyler Street, and Holland Street intersect in Chinatown. Parcel R-1 is one of the last large municipally owned sites in Chinatown available for community based uses, and the selected use is based on several years of BPDA and community-led visioning workshops and planning studies.

Like all BPDA-owned parcels in the City of Boston, the selected developer was required to respond to the BPDA’s Diversity and Inclusion evaluation criterion, and outline commitments to include Minority and Women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) in all aspects of their development. The Diversity and Inclusion criterion was weighted at 25 percent of the total evaluation of the proposal. The project’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan is comprehensive and includes meaningful participation by Minority and Women-owned businesses. In total, 30 percent of the construction costs and 33 percent of the soft costs on the project will be managed by M/WBEs, many of whom are members of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community with deep connections to Chinatown. Since including this criterion, 16 Requests for Proposals (RFPs) have been released with the DEI requirements, and ten have been designated.

“We are committed to facilitating a future for this parcel that supports the surrounding community by creating affordable housing and a new, permanent BPL branch in Chinatown,” said BPDA Director Brian Golden. “We look forward to working with the development team to bring life to the community’s vision.”

The thorough community process for Parcel R-1 launched in late 2020 to discuss issuing a Request for Proposals to develop the site. The RFP for this parcel, released in August 2021, reflected that community process, calling for affordable housing for all parts of the community, a permanent Chinatown branch library, as well as to preserve the historic nature and cultural heritage of this district.

“We are very excited for our team’s tentative designation as the developer of Parcel R-1 in Chinatown,” said Asian CDC Executive Director Angie Liou. “For over three decades, Asian Community Development Corporation has been dedicated to the creation of affordable housing as a way to stabilize immigrant families in this community, and we look forward to working with the City and neighborhood residents to build more affordable homes and a permanent Chinatown library on the R-1 site.”

“We are excited that the awarding of this development project to ACDC takes us one step closer to ensuring a permanent home for the Chinatown branch of the Boston Public Library,” said BPL president David Leonard. “Boston’s Chinatown community deserves a modern branch library to serve its needs for learning, community, public space, and cultural celebration. We look forward to partnering with ACDC and the entire Chinatown community to bring this vision to fruition.”

The RFP required that any development be in accordance with principles expressed in the 1990 Chinatown Community Plan, 2010 Chinatown Master Plan, and the current PLAN: Downtown initiative. These principles include upgrading the quality of life in Chinatown to ensure its long-term viability as a historic residential neighborhood and a unique cultural, business, and service center.

The Asian CDC is proposing to construct a twelve-story, mixed-use building featuring 110 affordable rental and home ownership units with a broad range of affordable income levels and bedroom sizes, and a core and shell space intended as the permanent location of the Chinatown Branch Library. The approval of the tentative designation by the BPDA will allow the Article 80 public review process for the proposal to move forward.

In 2018, the BPDA facilitated the opening of the temporary BPL Chinatown location at the BPDA-owned China Trade Center, located at 2 Boylston Street. The event marked the return of library services to the neighborhood for the first time in more than 50 years.

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