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Rox. development projects get green light from city

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the Banner’s senior editor. VIEW BIO
Rox. development projects get green light from city
Kensington Investment Corporation placed the winning bid for the nearly five-acre site of the former Radius Hospital on Townsend Street.

While the steel and glass luxury apartment towers going up downtown have come to typify Boston’s building boom, the city has greenlighted several smaller projects in and around Roxbury that show a different side to the city’s expanding housing market.

The projects promise to bring a mixture of market-rate and affordable housing units to the Roxbury area, as well as ground-level retail space that could contribute to the revitalization of long-vacant commercial areas.

Warren Street development

At 280-290 Warren Street, opposite the Washington Park Mall, the Cruz Development Corporation got the nod from the Department of Neighborhood Development to build a four-story mixed-use building with ground-level retail and office space and 51 rental units on the upper three floors. Five units would be available to renters earning less than 30 percent of the area median income and 31 units for renters earning less than 60 percent of the AMI. The remaining 15 would be market rate.

Principal John B. Cruz says the firm will move the offices of its development entity, currently located in John Eliot Square, and its management entity, housed on Massachusetts Avenue, to the new building.

Cruz said he hopes to lease space to a restaurant or café as well.

“I can’t wait for the second phase of the project to be completed so I can sit at the corner of Warren and Waverly streets at a café on a nice day sipping a glass of wine or a cappuccino,” he said. “We’re going to bring amenities we haven’t had for years back to that section of Roxbury.”

Housing in Dudley

Also approved is the Waldwin Group’s proposal for a four-story building with two ground-floor retail spaces at the Archer Bonell site on Washington Street in Dudley Square. Waldwin Group CEO Clayton Turnbull, who owns a number of Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, has proposed siting one of the doughnut shops in one of the retail spaces on the parcel. The upper floors will house 12 market-rate apartments: three one-bedroom units and nine two-bedroom units.

Turnbull’s firm won out over proposals for a housing developments by Urbanica Inc., which would have put a community arts space on the ground floor, and Placetailor, which would have provided space for a business incubator.

Radius site under agreement

The Kensington Investment Company, rental housing developers with a portfolio that includes properties in the Back Bay, Dorchester and Mattapan, placed the winning bid for the site of the former Radius hospital on Townsend Street during an auction last week.

“KIC is looking forward to continuing to be part of the growth in Roxbury and surrounding areas,” a spokeswoman for the firm said in a statement emailed to the Banner. “Its intention is to work with the community and build sustainable workforce housing on the site.”

The sloped, 4.96 acre parcel currently has 159,000 square feet of built space in five connected buildings with three parking lots.

Kensington’s portfolio includes a number of office and residential buildings as well as the newly-built Kensington building on Washington Street in Chinatown, where luxury one-bedroom units rent for $4,000 a month.

An attorney for the firm would not comment on specific plans for the Radius site.

“Things are in the works,” said attorney Leonard Zide. “I’m not at liberty to say anything until the ink is dry on all the documents.”

A community activist who spoke with representatives of KIC said the firm will likely demolish the existing yellow brick hospital buildings currently on the parcel and build new structures.

Closing on the property is scheduled for Sept. 30.

Green light on Egleston development

In a move that sparked community protest, the Boston Redevelopment Authority board voted to approve 3200 Washington LLC’s proposed 76-unit apartment building complex at Washington Street and Montebello Road. The development would include more than 5,000 square feet of retail space.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council voted the project down, citing the height of its proposed six story buildings along Washington Street and the developers’ refusal to set aside 25 units of the development as affordable housing.

Protesters packed the BRA board room and the hallway outside as the agency’s board voted four to one in favor of the development.

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