GentriWatch: City Council OKs Six-Year Urban Renewal Extension

Plus, Mayor Walsh announces $28 million for affordable housing.

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


Despite initial skepticism, the Boston City Council approved a six-year extension of the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s controversial urban renewal powers.

The Council voted 10-3 Wednesday in favor of the extension through 2022, trimmed down from the original 10-year term requested by the BRA. As part of the compromise, the quasi-public development agency would meet with the Council twice a year to “provide updates on urban renewal activity.” The BRA also agreed to reevaluate the existing urban renewal zones, which some have criticized as outdated.

Council President Michelle Wu, voting in favor of the six-year extension, said she realizes “there’s still a lot more that needs to be done in terms of accountability and transparency, but most of all I trust this council’s ability to enforce that and monitor that.”

Councilors Tito Jackson, Ayanna Pressley, and Josh Zakim voted against the extension, while Mayor Marty Walsh has voiced his support for it. The BRA’s next and final hurdle will be the state Department of Housing and Community Development, ahead of the previous extension’s April 30 expiration date.

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Mayor Walsh announced Tuesday $28 million in funding awards earmarked for affordable housing, expected to preserve or produce 837 housing units around town. Of these units, 125 will be intended for homeless or extremely low-income families.

“We are committed to creating a Boston where everyone who wants to live here, can afford to,” Walsh said in a statement. “I thank our local, state and federal partners for these housing investments that create good jobs and fuel our economy.”

Among the projects receiving funding awards are the rehabilitation of 48 Boylston Street in Chinatown; the Madison Melnea Cass and Whittier Street apartment complexes in Roxbury; and an elderly housing development in South Boston.

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