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Boston Parcel Redevelopment Venture

Last October, Governor Baker outlined the Administration’s strategy for developing unused or underutilized Commonwealth properties into new opportunities for affordable or market-rate housing, reducing government expenses, or economic development, among other uses. And on Tuesday, February 10, Governor Baker and Boston Mayor Walsh announced one such project.

“We look forward to working together with Mayor Walsh, Veolia, the City of Boston and its residents to optimize this land’s impact and contribution to the neighborhood and city at large,” said Governor Baker in announcing a joint public-private venture to redevelop a 5.5 acre site at 185 Kneeland Street. The site is currently home to MassDOT’s District 6 Headquarters and a Veolia steam plant.

The parcel, bordered by Chinatown and South Station, offers the potential for up to 1.5 to 2 million square feet of redevelopment. A broad set of goals will be developed for the site with the engagement of community leaders and residents, which could include economic growth and development, job creation and the addition of more open space and affordable, workforce and transit-oriented housing.

“I thank Governor Baker for his willingness to assess the inventory of State-owned land in the City of Boston and identify parcels that, if developed, could help the City achieve its long-term housing and planning goals,” said Mayor Walsh. “This announcement today is yet another example of how a strong partnership between the City and State can bring tremendous economic development benefits to the people of Boston.”

The partnership between the Commonwealth and the City of Boston has already added 1,300 units of housing (1/3 of which are affordable), and nearly 500,000 gross square feet of commercial space over the last 5 years. Among the next round of projects in the pipeline are the development of a jointly-owned property in Lower Roxbury, MBTA-owned parcels in Jamaica Plain, and an under-utilized MBTA parking lot near the Mattapan T stop. More than 3,500 housing units and 2.5 million gross square feet of commercial space are in the works.

As reported in the State House News, Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and Rep. Kevin Honan, both Boston Democrats who co-chair the Housing Committee, praised the move to offer up state land for redevelopment, saying it should be a model for housing production around the state. “This should be the blueprint for all cities and towns in the Commonwealth to move forward on creating housing that’s affordable,” Forry said in a statement.

Over 40 near-term opportunities throughout Massachusetts and across state agencies and authorities were first highlighted for public-private partnerships when the administration announced the “Open for Business” Real Estate Asset Leveraging (REAL) Strategy, of which 7 are currently under agreement.

Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh break ground on Project to create 239 units of affordable and workforce housing

A week earlier, Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh were together on another state-owned parcel, this one vacant and adjacent to North Station. However, instead of announcing potential projects, this was a ground breaking for a mixed-use development that will open in 2018 and have all its 239 housing units priced at affordable and middle-income rents. Additionally, 10 percent of the residential units will be three-bedroom units, providing much-needed affordable family housing in downtown Boston.

“The construction of affordable housing is a key driver of economic development, both in Boston and throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor Baker. “One of the most important elements here is that we’re here to celebrate something that doesn’t happen that often, or often enough in Boston or the Commonwealth, which is to celebrate the start of a construction project to put substantial housing development in the heart of the city at a price that working people can afford. That is the ultimate win, win, win.”

Funding for the project included tax-exempt bond financing from Mass Development, federal and state low income housing credits administered through DHCD, resources from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, a local property tax stabilization agreement, and affordable housing funds from the City of Boston. The funding from the Commonwealth reflects the ongoing work of the Baker-Polito Administration to make significant investments in affordable housing.

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