BPDA approves neighborhood projects
New affordable units, commercial developments throughout city
As 2021 comes to a close, several large-scale projects aimed at economic development in Roxbury, Hyde Park, Dorchester and South Boston were approved by the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board of Directors at its Dec. 16 meeting. Approved alongside updates to existing projects increasing affordable housing in the city, most of the projects given a green light this month are part of strategic goals to revitalize several of Boston’s neighborhoods.
Nubian Ascends, at 2164 Washington St. in Roxbury, is a project led by developer Richard Taylor to transform the long neglected Blair Lot into lab and office space, artists’ residences, a parking garage, an artist market and a food court. A BPDA spokesperson said the project will be an “economic and cultural hub in Roxbury.”
The plan includes 15 homeownership units, 10 of them income-restricted, and developers have projected hundreds of jobs across the available office, artist and food spaces. Other perks include 25% of the site being dedicated open space for festivals, markets and or performances, and the connection to the Ruggles MBTA station with a new pedestrian passage.
The project is part of the BPDA’s PLAN: Nubian Square, a set of strategic goals for the area, and has been in the works for two years. After receiving several requests for proposals, the BPDA awarded the designation to Nubian Ascend Partners, LLC in December 2020. Nubian Ascend is working in partnership with Nubian Square Development, LLC, Almiranta Development and Capital, and Black Market Development.
“Throughout the process, the project has enjoyed strong community support and enthusiasm for the changes it will bring to what was formerly an empty lot,” BPDA Project Manager Nick Carter said at the December Board of Directors meeting.
Melissa Mills, a Roxbury resident, shared her excitement saying, “a space where people not only gather to live, but to work and play is something that is so needed in such a historical space as Nubian Square, so I’m happy to lend my voice of support.”
City Councilor Julia Mejia gave her support as well, calling the development an “incredible opportunity.”
Also coming to Roxbury is the new Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology campus on Harrison Avenue. A technical college that’s now located at 41 Berkeley Street in the South End, its current campus is over 100 years old and in need of costly repairs, and “is not efficiently laid out to meet the current curriculum needs or future student expansion,” according to a BPDA press release.
BFIT has been approved to demolish the former Harrison Supply Building currently sitting vacant in Nubian Square. They plan to construct a new three-story building on the site containing 20 indoor technical education labs, eight general classrooms, meeting and study rooms, a central student lounge, administration and other offices, and support spaces.
“This is an important move, not only for the institution but also for the city,” BPDA Board member Ted Landsmark said.
As part of the BPDA’s implementation of PLAN: South Boston Dot Ave, construction on 323-365 Dorchester Avenue will create new office, life science, residential and retail space in South Boston.
There will be four mixed-use buildings — two distinct residential buildings and two distinct commercial buildings. The residential buildings will contain a total of 310 new units, 17% of which will be income-restricted, and across retail and commercial spaces the BPDA claims “1,600 permanent jobs” will be created.
According to the agency, the project will also be making the area more livable, with 50% of the area dedicated to open space or roadways and enhanced pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. The city of Boston has dedicated 1.6 acres of the project site as public rights-of-way, and $3 million will be put towards updating and modernizing the Old Colony Avenue/Dorchester Street intersection.
Congressman Stephen Lynch came to the December meeting to voice his support, saying, “This will really animate and activate that whole area.”
In Dorchester, new housing has been approved for 22 High Street — 15 for-sale residential units, two of which will be income-restricted. The development has an included bike room and repair station and is located close to MBTA stations and bus stops.
In Hyde Park, at 1318 River Street, a new four-story building will replace a former auto repair garage. The plan includes 30 units of housing, four of which are income-restricted, as well as retail space.
The project also aims to improve the intersection at River Street and Business Street to make it safer for vehicles and pedestrians, with a developer contribution of more than $8,000 to the City’s Bluebikes system and sidewalk upgrades.
John Pulgini, the project attorney, said at the December meeting, “We think this will be a great improvement to what’s there now and will bring some much needed pedestrian traffic.”
Updates to approved projects
In addition to the new projects targeting neighborhood development, the BPDA Board approved four updates to previously approved projects:
• At 60 McGreevey Way in Mission Hill the Board approved renovations to 500+ mixed-income units at Boston Housing Authority’s Mission Main development to “improve residents’ quality of life.”
• At 10 Stonley Road (35 Brookley Road) in Jamaica Plain the Board approved a change from market-rate housing to 100% income-restricted housing, following the purchase of the site by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC).
• At 125 Amory Street Phase III (127 Amory Street) in Jamaica Plain the Board approved converting all units to income-restricted housing.
• At Parcel 12 Air Rights, Back Bay the Board approved a project converting a portion of the project’s office space to lab/life sciences space.