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Advisory group backs developer for Boston State Hospital site

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the Banner’s senior editor. VIEW BIO
Advisory group backs developer for Boston State Hospital site
Developers are planning a 367-unit development in the land adjacent to the Olmstead Green development on the former Boston State Hospital site. BANNER FILE PHOTO

An advisory group of Mattapan residents appointed to vet development proposals for the former Boston State Hospital land has selected a team to build a housing complex on the last open parcel of land on the site.

Accordia/Toll Brothers, the development team selected by the state-appointed Boston State Hospital Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), plans to build 367 units in seven three-story buildings on the site.

CAC member Royal L. Bolling Jr. said he hopes the new housing units will set a new standard for the neighborhood.

“I think it will set a model for future development in Mattapan,” he said.

The proposal was one of six submitted for the 10-acre parcel, which fronts Harvard Street and abuts the Mass Biologics Lab and Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center. Five of the proposals were for housing developments; the sixth included an urban farming operation, food waste recycling cooperative and business incubator space.

CAC members did not pick any of the developers in the first round and asked developers to modify their proposals to include elderly housing units, a day care facility and a shuttle from the development site to the Forest Hills Orange Line station.

Accordia is owned by Boston-based real estate developer Kirk Sykes, who along with Thomas Welch developed Roxbury’s Crosstown Center, with its Hampton Inn hotel and associated parking garage and office complex on Melnea Cass Boulevard. Opened in 2004, the hotel was the first black-owned hotel in Boston. Toll Brothers, a Pennsylvania-based luxury housing developer, specializes in large rental properties.

The team’s proposal calls for 82 owner-occupied units and 285 rental units. A total of 246 of the units would be market rate and 66 affordable. In keeping with state guidelines for the site, which formerly housed an asylum run by the state’s Department of Mental Health (DMH), 55 units will be set aside for DMH clients.

Accordia is listed as having a 51 percent ownership stake in the development, with Toll Brothers owning the other 49 percent.

State Rep. Russell Holmes said an advantage to bringing in the large, out-of-state developer is that they will likely have the resources to move the project forward even as the economy moves into a likely recession.

“In these uncertain times, they’re still able to build,” he said.

Holmes toured The Kendrick, a Toll Brothers luxury apartment complex in Needham, and said he was encouraged.

“They’re bringing that level of quality to the neighborhood,” he said.

The CAC decision, which was not publicly announced, came after a series of meetings last year with prospective developers. The CAC was formed in 1985 during the administration of Governor Michael Dukakis and is the only community-based group empowered by the state to select developers for the Boston State Hospital site.

District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell said neighborhood residents should have the opportunity to review the Accordia/Toll Brothers proposal before it is approved by the state.

“At the end of the day, I hope there’s continued communication between the developers and the community,” she said.

The CAC decision will be vetted by the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM). A spokesperson for the state’s Executive Office for Administration and Finance would not answer questions on the record about when DCAMM will issue its final decision on a designated developer for the parcel.

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