Homogenization of South Boston continues with plans to replace Dorchester Street market with five-story residential building

256 Dorchester St. rendering

Architect's rendering of 256 Dorchester St.

The owner of Bell's Market on Dorchester Street has submitted plans to the BPDA for a $13-million, five-story replacement building with 32 apartments and room for his market on the first floor.

In his filing with the BPDA, George Khoury says the building contains additional commercial space that could be used for "a possible diner/cafe."

The building would be topped with "eight modestly-sized roof decks for personal unit use" and would have 23 parking spaces in a below-ground garage.

Five of the units would be marketed as affordable; Khoury would also pay into a BPDA fund intended for purchase or development of additional affordable units.

256 Dorchester St. small-project review application (27M PDF).



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editorializing headline

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The current building isn't exactly an architectural gem. More housing is needed everywhere.


It's not unreasonable to both have the 'build baby build' viewpoint while also wishing there was any attempt being made to produce a little more variation in the style of the buildings being erected.

Pointing out that this looks like umpteen other similar developments in the past 2-3 years doesn't mean it's not an improvement to a single story market.

I always see this same complaint

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that all these new modern buildings look like new modern buildings, so what is it exactly that you would like to see? As it is, whenever a developer proposes a slightly different looking building there is an outcry that it doesn't fit in and / or is ugly (e.g. https://www.elevatedboston.com/buildings/815-east-fifth-street/) When you drive around Southie now you see that many of the old triple deckers look exactly like the rest, which I assume is because they were built around the same time, which makes sense.

To take a stab at this..

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..it's because the appeal to Boston, is the traditional / colonial look, specifically brick - what you see in Beacon Hill, Back Bay, The North End....not what we are seeing here. Even remodeled & new structures in say the North End fit the traditional identity of the neighborhood. Not to mention a lot of these new buildings have no character & look cheaply made. For instance - virtually all of the buildings in the seaport look the same with a smidge of a difference distinguishing each of them - it looks like they're just slapping up a bunch of glass in the shape of a building.


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First of all, this stretch of major thoroughfare has no character. Is it incumbent on this project to create it? It can't. But it is an overall improvement, and it provides necessary housing. It may not be cheap, or rent subsidized, but any housing that non-wealthy people can afford is good right now. And it it were made to look like Beacon Hill it would look more out of place than this does.

That said, Beacon Hill is not Colonial Architecture, even if it was begun in the Colonial Era. Beacon Hill is Federal Style, which looks quaint now but was considered unadorned in its era. It is actually reminiscent of Roman era style and was workmanlike in its time rather than Kerry pretentiousness. Notice how all the developed parcels that were possible were built with very narrow streets. That was economy of space, not quaintness. Today people (like you?) would bemoan the lack of open space and off street parking.

Maybe a simple workmanlike housing style is completely appropriate for the location and time. If the lack of costly adornment allows non-wealthy working people to afford to live there all the better. Actually, it is kind of a ode to the people who built Beacon Hill in their day.

The Back Bay is another story altogether.

Brick's not a good option

Very labor intensive, which is a much bigger construction constraint than it was back in the 1800s.

What we really need are more prefab building projects to drop the cost of housing but of course this city is primarily run for the benefit of the construction unions so that won't ever fly. So we have expensive housing here to better pay for houses in NH and the outlying suburbs where the construction guys live.

People used to have a lot

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People used to have a lot more children and pack them in a lot more closely. My father-in-law had 5 siblings in a 2-bedroom apartment.

While I'm not the biggest fan

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While I'm not the biggest fan of all the boring, poorly-constructed condos going up all over Southie, this market and building are currently a total dump. Anything new would be an improvement.

Interesting though - some rough projects are literally right behind it. Will people fork over 600/700/800K to live there?? I only ask because I used to live right there, and I'm talking actual crime, noise, etc. I don't I'd pay that much to live there...

Dorchester Street

I live on Dorchester Street not far from Bells Market. You are correct, that whole building is begging for demo/reconstruction,. Added bonus that the two billboards on the roof will go as well, and we won't have two liquor stores directly across the street from each other.. Proximity to the large scale public housing development will impact sales to a degree, but I believe those units are scheduled for renovation akin to the work done on the units closer to Old Colony Ave. While those renovated units seem to be more of a traditional "home" in their look and scale, I do remember the construction of them took quite some time, which I am sure causes massive problems as tenants are displaced during demo and reconstruction.

Once again

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not enough parking and like other developments with not enough parking, they will have a difficult time selling these.

Never mind selling

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There's a new (maybe a year old now) practically in JFK train stop on the Red Line which has a bunch of empty apartments they cannot rent because there are not enough parking spots. So please folks don't get sucked in to the developer's "transit oriented steps to public trsnsportation" bullshit.

Exactly! Supply is finally

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Exactly! Supply is finally starting to put a damper on demand - time for landlords and developers to realize they're beholden to the market just like the rest of us suckers who've been suffering endless rent increases for the last decade.

I wish the city would institute some kind of empty unit tax for big buildings, to discourage owners from holding places empty in the hopes of higher rents while writing off the losses. That would really bring a flood of ACTUALLY affordable units to the market as these "luxury" developers confront reality.


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Oh wait, just a local trying to make a buck (or a few million of them). Listen, I'm all for it, I"m not gonna sell my place for less than what I can get. Just tired of the narrative - people living here their whole lives hating new people/change, until it's time to cash out - highest bidder wins! That's why we have $1M condos everywhere.

I agree with all the comments

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It's a blah, boring building.

So are most of the other buildings going up right now.

Housing is needed.

The current structure is awful and will not be missed.

Triple deckers have proven their durability, and compared to much current construction are Palladian in quality and design.

We can do better.

The BPDA needs to push, suggest, encourage developers to do something interesting. Perhaps some type of financial incentive? A design contest? We are in the midst of a building boom, everyone wants in, take advantage of it. Maybe establish a fee that would go toward street art, or art visible from the sidewalk. And trees. Boston has far too few street trees.

Some would argue

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that row after row of triple deckers is homogenous.
Back around 1905 they were building them everywhere - where people up in arms back then?

Build it anyway

It's ugly.

It looks like a cheap hotel.

The "balconies" look completely useless and a waste of money.

Build it anyway.

Think I would actually want some board to make them either explain or change? The roof. Random, scattered individual decks? No green roof, no solar panels? I don't understand it and when I do understand seems to be a massively wasted opportunity.

The architects didn't even

The architects didn't even bother to run a simple rendering engine on the model, they just skinned it in Sketchup and turned on sun.

I read more carefully - the roof decks are connected directly to the unit below. The included drafted plans don't show the roof access though, and they're still tiny with a lot of empty roof space.

Build it anyway.