Mayor Walsh today announced a formal process for developers to propose possibly taking over city buildings such as libraries, community centers, public-health facilities and fire stations and redeveloping them into larger structures that would include new city facilities layered with housing units.
In a statement, the mayor said the idea could help meet his goal of 53,000 new housing units in Boston by 2030:
With the right projects and partnerships in place, we believe this model could have the potential to enhance City property by improving our infrastructure and generating new affordable housing options needed in neighborhoods throughout our city. I look forward to seeing the ideas that could help us reimagine the future of our civic spaces to maximize the public benefit.
Developers have until March 23 to answer the RFI issued today.
The proposal builds on work done in other large cities for such mixed-use projects. In 2016, New York City approved a controversial plan to replace a Brooklyn library with a smaller branch inside a 36-story luxury-condo building.
But the idea of mixed private/public buildings is not completely foreign to Boston, either - one downtown fire and ambulance station sits in the first floor of an office tower and a developer is working with the city and the T to redevelop Back Bay station in exchange for the right to build a new office tower and residential complex atop what is now the station's parking garage.