Boston is leading the nation in neighborhood commercial revitalization with twenty-one Main Street districts. The renewed vitality of our commercial centers continues to attract new residents to the city and contributes to the City’s unprecedented housing demand.

Housing on Main Streets supports citizen efforts to plan their neighborhood’s growth and to develop housing. By combining residential, commercial and community uses with transportation infrastructure improvements, Housing on Main Streets seeks to build a walkable neighborhood. Mixed-use and residential developments will help strengthen neighborhood commercial centers by increasing the number of people who live within close walking distance of shops.

Working with local Main Street programs, merchants and community residents encourage the “right building in the right location.”

  • Housing on Main Streets is a 6-month community-based planning process that involves existing groups and individuals.
  • Organizations request and sponsor participation and a working group of local leaders and city officials map out the process.
  • A series of community meetings and workshops bring together residents, businesses, and local institutions.
  • The community process concludes with a comprehensive “To Do List” for future development and planning.

Principals of Housing on Main Street are:

  • Strengthen and build upon the success of Boston Main Street program.
  • Promote neighborhood centers with both day and night activity.
  • Create new housing opportunities.
  • Foster compact urban development that is pedestrian friendly and reduces car dependency.
  • Build on existing urban fabric, such as vacant or under-utilized properties, and promote high-quality design and construction.

Outcomes of Housing on Main Street are:

  • Community vision for mixed-use development and housing.
  • Development Guidelines for architecture and urban design and infrastructure.
  • Development Scenarios including marketing packages and technical assistance.
  • Housing Production - new construction and rehabilitation of existing buildings.
  • Citywide neighborhood housing strategies and regulations – propose zoning and/or policy changes.

Housing on Main Streets is “smart” for Boston’s neighborhoods because it concentrates new mixed-use and multi-family residential development along major boulevards and avenues, rebuilding the traditional neighborhood streetscape and the image of the community.

Housing on Main Street has been piloted in Grove Hall, Roxbury, with the planning phase completed in July 2001. The Grove Hall planning effort had the support and professional assistance of The Boston Society of Architects’ Housing Committee. The planning process identified and recommended development scenarios for six sites along Blue Hill Avenue. In total, the recommended development scenarios included over 200 units of new housing in two families, row and apartment building styles and approximately 100,000 SF of new commercial, office and retail, space. The BRA continues to work with area developers and the community to advance individual development projects.

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