Community panel picks Parcel P-3 developer
Plan calls for affordable home ownership, lab space
After months of internal discussion and debate, one development team has now secured the endorsement of the guiding Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee (RSMPOC) to transform a long-vacant parcel into affordable housing, lab and commercial space.
On Monday evening, after a brief presentation from the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), residents and business owners were able to weigh in with questions and concerns before hearing from the RSMPOC, who announced they would be selecting a proposal from developer HYM and the nonprofit My City at Peace.
The team is a joint venture between Boston-based HYM Investment Group and the real estate company My City at Peace (MyCAP) formed by Rev. Jeffrey Brown. Brown is a pastor with the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury.
Last year the BPDA asked for proposals for the 7.7-acre parcel, which has stood mostly vacant for almost 60 years. The land was initially cleared for an uncompleted highway project and has gone through failed attempts at redevelopment, leaving the lot in limbo.
Two proposals were ultimately submitted — one from HYM and My City at Peace, and another from Tishman Speyer and Ruggles Progressive Partners, a conglomeration of local developers.
The HYM/MyCAP plan includes a five-building complex with affordable and market-rate rental and home-ownership units, lab and retail space, and green space.
The other proposal, from Tishman Speyer and Ruggles Progressive Partners, also included a combination of rental units, home ownership and lab space — though in a different combination.
HYM/MyCAP has plans for 184 home ownership units, 164 of which would be affordable, compared to 62 units, 42 affordable, in the Tishman Speyer/Ruggles plan — a decision that the developer said makes the proposal unique.
“The homeownership opportunities created through the MyCAP and HYM P-3 proposal are important steps toward addressing Boston’s Black Wealth Gap and creating opportunities for communities of color to build equity through homeownership,” said Rev. Brown.
The HYM/MyCAP proposal also includes far more lab space — more than 600,000 square feet, compared to 180,000 square feet in the Tishman Speyer plan. Developers say the lab space will have designated programs for local job creation — another perk.
“Our P-3 proposal has been intentionally designed to reflect and serve the surrounding Roxbury community and we are honored to have the support of so many key stakeholders and community members, including the RSMPOC,” said Thomas N. O’Brien, managing partner and chief executive officer of HYM.
The team says it will help facilitate a work exchange with local technical programs, including at the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology and Madison Park Technical Vocational High school. That will happen in conjunction with LabCentral Ignite, a subsidiary of life science incubator LabCentral, that will be allotted a 10,000-square-foot training center in the development.
MyCAP and HYM claim their proposal will generate approximately 1,600 construction jobs and over 2,700 permanent jobs.
The proposal also includes the addition of a new museum and policy center for King Boston, a nonprofit organization that celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
There are also rental units available as part of the proposal — 282 units, 58% of which are set to be income-restricted.
Last week, another BPDA panel, the Project Review Committee, voted for the HYM /MyCAP proposal 6-3, prompting the competitor, Tishman Speyer, to withdraw its bid. During Monday night’s meeting, RSMPOC leadership mentioned the team had cited financial hardship due to volatile market conditions as the reason for its withdrawal.
The 13-member RSMPOC voted almost unanimously for the HYM/MyCAP bid, with one member abstaining and one absent The next step for the project will be the BPDA approving a tentative design — a step likely to happen sometime this winter. Then, the developer group will have to apply for approvals and permits before breaking ground.