The West End Grows Taller as BRA Approves New 44-Story Tower

The new 447-foot tower will include 470 new housing units.

West End tower

A rendering of the new West End tower by Elkus Manfredi Architects

Another day, another tower.

On a 5-0 vote, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved a plan for a 44-story residential tower set to rise 447 feet above the street on the site of a bleak concrete parking garage on Lomasney Way in the West End. The $390 million tower, proposed by Equity Residential, is not without controversy, and has been languishing in redevelopment limbo since 2008 when it was first proposed. Several area residents were fiercely opposed to the project due to concerns about height, density, and traffic in the West End neighborhood.

The new tower will include 470 new housing units, 775 underground parking spaces, 2,300 feet of first floor retail space and nearly an acre of open space available to the public. The tower is designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, one of the most popular firms in the city for new developers. For those concerned about a loss of parking spots, don’t worry: this new project actually increases the number of parking spaces in the area by 125.

The board was initially scheduled to vote on the project in January, but punted to give Equity more time to address concerns about the project. Equity has since altered the building’s design, cut back on parking spaces, and offered to contribute more to the city’s affordable housing fund. They’ll also make traffic improvements to the area.

Opponents of the project remained unsatisfied, loudly expressing their outrage at Thursday’s meeting.

“The BRA is for sale,” yelled one man at the meeting, according to the Boston Globe.

West End residents involved in the advisory group for the project resigned in November after growing increasingly frustrated with the BRA and Equity.

The West End was not always a neighborhood of detached apartment buildings and uninteresting high rises. Before it was leveled in the 1950s as part of the misguided urban renewal policies of the mid-20th century, the West End was a vibrant neighborhood of row houses and lively streets. Prior to the leveling of the neighborhood, it had a population of roughly 11,000. Today, fewer than 4,000 people live in the West End, according to the most recent census figures.

The new Equity Residential tower is just another part of the construction in the booming neighborhood around TD Garden. The new 415-foot Avalon North Station tower is the first building in the area to top out over 380 feet since the Longfellow Towers went up in 1976. When it is completed this summer, Avalon North Station will include 503 new housing units (including 30 classified as affordable) and a new retail corridor connecting Nashua and Causeway Streets. On the former site of the original Boston Garden, a new 600-foot tower will rise as part of a 1,870,000 square foot development project that includes 497 housing units, 306 hotel rooms, 668,000 square feet of office space, a 40,000 square foot expansion of TD Garden, and 800 parking spaces underground.