BRA board approves $136 million in new projects at October meeting

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Expected to create over 200 housing units and 350 construction jobs
 
BOSTON – The Board of Directors for the Boston Redevelopment Authority last night approved six new development projects, including four housing projects that will create a total of 216 units, 93 of which will be restricted as affordable. The board also approved a major renovation of the downtown Center Plaza office complex, a self storage and custom manufacturing facility in Newmarket, and a new pedestrian bridge for Boston Children’s Hospital.
The projects, which represent a combined investment of $136.3 million, will result in over 400,000 square feet of development and an estimated 355 construction jobs.
In addition to the new approvals, the BRA board granted final designation to a local development group to construct a hotel and residences along Melnea Cass Boulevard in Roxbury.
Below is a summary of the projects that are set to move forward.

Whittier Street public housing to be redeveloped, adding more units and growing mix of incomes
Total Project Cost: $44,000,000
Total SF: 110,000
Construction Jobs: 81
A partnership between the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), Preservation of Affordable Housing, and Madison Park Development Corporation won approval to overhaul one of Boston’s oldest and most distressed public housing developments. Known as Whittier Choice, the project will ultimately create a total of 387 mixed-income rental units. The first phase will result in 83 new units, and subsequent phases call for the redevelopment of all 200 low-income units that comprise the current Whittier Street public housing complex as well as additional mixed-income units.
When complete, the new development will include over 7,600 square feet of commercial space, public open space, and a recreation area. A fitness room, lounges, and community rooms are also planned. New street trees, benches, sidewalks, and lighting will help revitalize the surrounding streets, and residents will have access to bicycle parking as well as 121 underground parking spots.
Situated between Dudley Square and the Ruggles MBTA station, the Whittier Street development dates back to 1953. Funding has been secured for the first phase, and the development partners will continue to pursue financing for later phases. The BHA was unfortunately not awarded a Choice Neighborhood Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the most recent round of funding allocations, but the agency plans to reapply.

Madison Park Development Corporation to build new housing along Melnea Cass in Lower Roxbury
Total Project Cost: $37,000,000
Total SF: 92,179
Construction Jobs: 69
Madison Park Development Corporation, one of the nation’s first community-based, non-profit organizations to independently develop affordable housing for low and moderate income residents, will undertake a new project to add 76 units of housing in Lower Roxbury. Already the operator of Madison Park Village, which was developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s along Melnea Cass Boulevard, the non-profit will construct two new buildings on nearby infill sites.
Designed by Elton + Hampton Architects, the Madison Park Infill project will be comprised of a four-story building with 16 units and a five-story building with 60 units located just southwest of the Ruggles MBTA Orange Line station. The project will transform an underutilized stretch along Melnea Cass Boulevard and improve the connectivity of the neighborhood by activating the surrounding streets with new residents.
Most, if not all, of the 76 units will be marketed as affordable housing thanks to Low Income Housing Tax Credits that the developer has secured.
 
Center Plaza to undergo sweeping renovation that includes new lobbies and penthouse addition
Total Project Cost: $25,000,000
Total SF: Approximately 30,000 (new space)
Construction Jobs: 104
Center Plaza, the hulking concrete office and commercial building that arcs around Suffolk Superior Court and overlooks Government Center, will receive a major facelift as part of a broad improvement plan being led by property owner Shorenstein. The crescent shaped, three-building complex was originally constructed in the late 1960s and contains over 717,000 square feet of space spread throughout nine floors.
The highlights of Shorenstein’s renovation plans include new lobbies and passageways between all three buildings and a 21,000 square foot penthouse addition that will provide more office space and a rooftop garden. A 9,400 square foot addition will be constructed on the ground floor and mezzanine levels in order to expand retail and restaurant opportunities at Center Plaza. Other improvements include better lighting, a publicly accessible elevator, and enhanced signage for tenants.
Shorenstein and CBT Architects have designed the new Center Plaza to be LEED Gold certifiable through the U.S. Green Building Council.

New housing to be developed on former manufacturing site in West Roxbury
Total Project Cost: $10,000,000
Total SF: 49,800
Construction Jobs: 36
A series of outdated, abandoned, and burned out former light industrial buildings at the corner of LaGrange and Centre Streets in West Roxbury will soon come down under a proposal approved by the BRA board last night. Developer Michael Argiros of Charles River Realty plans to demolish a shuttered factory that once made inhalers and construct a three-story residential building with 48 apartments, six of which will be designated as affordable.
The Victorian style multi-family building at 425 LaGrange Street, designed by Neshamkin French Architects, is intended to blend nicely with the surrounding neighborhood and Centre Street shopping area. The project will contain eight studios, 22 one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom, and two three-bedroom units.
The developer hopes to break ground by March 2016 and complete the project by July 2017.

Housing project near South Boston’s Broadway Station will have photography studio and retail
Total Project Cost: $8,250,000
Total SF: 36,856
Construction Jobs: 27
A one-story structure at the corner of West Fourth Street and A Street in South Boston will be demolished to make way for a six-story project that will include nine residential units, a two-floor photography studio, ground-floor retail space, and off-street parking. 33 A Street Development won approval to construct the new building at 120 West Fourth Street, which will have one four-bedroom unit, six three-bedroom units, and two two-bedroom units. Eight units will be rental apartments, while one will be occupied by the property owner.
The developer will make sidewalk and landscaping improvements along A and West Fourth Streets as part of the project, which was designed by Embarc Studio.
Michael Indresano, the property and business owner who currently runs a photography studio, has also committed to providing photography and video services free of charge to local nonprofit organizations, such as Medicine Wheel Productions and the Pine Street Inn.

Storage facility approved for Newmarket Commercial District
Total Project Cost: $12,000,000
Total SF: 83,500
Construction Jobs: 37
Raymond Schneider, the owner of Red Dog Pet Resort and Spa on Southampton Street in Newmarket received approval to build a new storage facility on property adjacent to his other business. Boston Self Storage will be an 83,500 square foot facility with flexible storage space for customers. By incorporating sustainable design features, such as an energy efficient water system and environmentally friendly materials, the developer hopes to achieve LEED Silver certification.
Once the storage facility is established, the owner intends to start a small moving company to support his customers’ needs.
Based on feedback from community members and elected officials, the project will also include 19,000 square feet of fabrication space for local entrepreneurs for experimental manufacturing. By providing this resource, Mr. Schneider hopes to spur additional job creation beyond his project and support budding small businesses in the area.

Melnea Partners, LLC granted final designation to develop hotel and residences off Melnea Cass Boulevard
Total Project Cost: $38,000,000
Total SF: 126,400
Construction Jobs: TBD
An important parcel in the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan is closer to being redeveloped after the BRA board granted final designation to Melnea Partners, LLC, a collaborative being led by the local design and development firm Urbanica, as the developer for Parcel 9. The parcel, which is jointly owned by the BRA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, will be redeveloped as the Melnea Hotel and Residences.
The project includes a 108-room hotel, 50 units of rental housing, and 8,000 square feet of retail space. The hotel will be a Residence Inn franchise, part of Marriott International’s portfolio of brands.
The development team hopes to begin construction of the hotel and residences by the end of this year, with the hotel slated for completion in spring 2017 and the residential units that summer.

Boston Children’s Hospital to construct new pedestrian bridge over Longwood Avenue
Boston Children’s Hospital received approval to amend its Institutional Master Plan in order to build a new pedestrian bridge over Longwood Avenue. The 3,250 square foot connector will link the patient and family parking garage with the hospital’s main building in order to create a safe passage that is protected from the elements for patients, staff, and visitors. A new concierge desk in the garage will process patient discharges, and visitors will have access to valet service.
The steel and glass bridge was designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects to be visually unobtrusive to passersby on Longwood Avenue. Children’s Hospital will create a pocket park outside the historic Hunnewell Building and make landscaping improvements along Longwood Avenue and Blackfan Street. Lighting will also be installed to better showcase the Hunnewell Building and its historic character. As a result of the new bridge, an existing concrete pedestrian bridge that spans Blackfan Street will be removed.

About the Boston Redevelopment Authority
As the City of Boston’s urban planning and economic development agency, the BRA works in partnership with the community to plan Boston’s future while respecting its past. The agency’s passionate and knowledgeable staff guides physical, social, and economic change in Boston’s neighborhoods and its downtown to shape a more prosperous, resilient, and vibrant city for all. The BRA also prepares residents for new opportunities through employment training, human services and job creation. Learn more at http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org, and follow us on Twitter @BostonRedevelop.

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