GentriWatch: Latest BRA Approvals Target Affordable Housing in Roxbury

Plus, Mayor Marty Walsh demanding more of developers?

Welcome to GentriWatch, where we look for signs of gentrification happening around the city.


Renderings via Boston Redevelopment Authority

Renderings via Boston Redevelopment Authority

THE BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY’S Board of Directors met Thursday night, approving $136 million in new projects expected to add 200 housing units, a portion of which will be made affordable. Among the highlights:

  • The BRA board approved a $10 million proposal from developer Michael Argiros of Charles River Realty to demolish abandoned industrial buildings at the corner of LaGrange and Centre Streets in West Roxbury, including a shuttered inhaler factory, and build a three-story residential building with 48 rental units—six affordable, 42 at market rate—and 81 parking spaces contained in a sub-level garage.
  • The BRA board approved an $8.25 million proposal from 33 A Street Development to one-story building at the corner of West Fourth Street and A Street in Southie and construct a six-story building with nine residential units, including one for property owner Michael Indresano and his family. There will also be ground-floor retail space, off-street parking, and a two-floor photography studio, which Indresano has committed to providing photo and video services free-of-charge to local nonprofits like Medicine Wheel Productions and the Pine Street Inn. Because there are only nine units spread across 120 West Fourth Street’s three floors of residential space, Indresano will not be required to make any of the units affordable under the city’s inclusionary housing policy, applicable to projects with 10 or more units.
  • The BRA board approved a $44 million proposal to redevelop Whittier Choice, a housing project located in Roxbury, between Dudley Square and the Ruggles MBTA station. A collaboration between the Boston Housing Authority, Preservation of Affordable Housing, and Madison Park Development Corporation, the project has secured funding for its first phase, which will generate 83 rental units—11 will be made affordable.
  • The BRA board approved a $37 million proposal to demolish a one-story building at 40 Raynor Circle in Roxbury and create a new residential development with 76 residential units, all of which will be made affordable through low-income housing tax credits obtained by developer Madison Park Development Corporation, a community-based nonprofit.
  • The BRA board granted final designation to Melnea Partners, LLC to redevelop a parcel off Melnea Cass Boulevard in Roxbury jointly owned by the BRA and the MassDOT into Melnea Hotel and Residences. The project will include 108-room Marriott Residence Inn, 50 rental units, and 8,000 square-feet of retail space. The BRA is currently in negotiations with the builder regarding what portion of the 50 rental units will be made affordable, spokesman Nick Martin tells Boston. The bare minimum under the city’s inclusionary housing policy is 13 percent, or roughly seven units.

To review, the BRA board approved at least 100 units of affordable housing Thursday night, nearly all in Roxbury.

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THE BRA WILL HOLD a public meeting next week on the 20 Taft Hill project in Roslindale, which seeks to demolish existing structures to erect two new buildings with a total of 19 condominiums, three of which will be made affordable. Head over to the Roslindale Community Center on October 21 at 8 p.m. and speak your mind.

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MAYOR MARTY WALSH may soon demand more of developers who wish to build in Boston.

Globe development reporter Tim Logan had the scoop Wednesday on Walsh’s soon-to-be-unveiled plans to deal with the city’s ever-slim supply of affordable housing. Two City Hall officials tell Logan that Walsh will seek “some sort of responsible increase” in either the number of units designated affordable in each apartment or condominium project, or a construction fee used to subsidize affordable units elsewhere.

Walsh’s plans also include higher “linkage payments” for non-residential developers, which fund job training and home financing. Predictably, there’s already talk of backlash from the builders, who currently pay roughly $10 for every square foot of new construction over 100,000 square feet. City economic chief John Barros tells Logan that City Hall could raise it to $15 before requiring approval from Beacon Hill.

Both measures seek to push the city closer to Walsh’s goal of boosting funding for affordable housing by $20 million a year, paired with 53,000 residential units by 2030.

Notice something changing in your neighborhood? Let me know: [email protected], @KyleClauss.