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Developers unwrap plans for what's basically a dorm for adults in Allston

Common Allbright proposal in Allston

Architect's rendering shows roomies will have birds to look at.

Two developers have filed detailed plans with the BPDA for a five-story, 80-unit apartment building on Lincoln Street in Allston mostly aimed at people who don't mind living with roommates or who have no choice because they're suffocating under student-debt burdens, in rooms that in some cases could rent as low as $844 a month.

Boylston Properties and ARX Urban's Common Allbright building, which would go on what is now a parking lot between Lincoln and Cambridge streets, near where Cambridge crosses the turnpike, would have 62 four-bedroom "co-living suites" and 8 three-bedroom "co-living suites" in which people would rent a single room - and have access to shared kitchens and bathrooms.

The remainder of the units would be traditional studios.

The Project is designed to be operated as a co-living building, comprised of purpose-built high density shared suites and studios where individuals rent their own private bedroom and bathroom and share common areas, kitchens, living rooms, and other amenity spaces with their suitemates. ...

The Project creates a new paradigm of housing development that introduces a new model for the creation of workforce and income-restricted housing. Specifically, a residential building that is purpose-built for co-living may serve as a private, unsubsidized mechanism to create housing available to households earning between approximately 50-100% of the Area Median Income.

Suite layout

To go with its total 282 bedrooms, the building would have 30 parking spaces in a garage, but with room to double that to 60 through the use of mechanical car stackers.

In their filing, the developers discuss just how affordable the 37 bedrooms designated as "affordable" would be:

Per the BPDA’s 2019 Maximum Affordable Rents, the IDP units would rent for approximately $844 per month ($10,128 per
year). This annual rent expense at 30% of one’s annual gross income, would be attainable to an individual earning approximately $33,760. As a result, co-living IDP rents may be significantly more attainable for lower-income individuals than traditional IDP rents.
Regarding the Project’s market-rate housing, the Proponent’s co-living management partner, Common, reports an average all-in cost of its co-living bedrooms that is naturally 20-30% less expensive than that of comparable studios, rendering these co-living bedrooms attainable to individuals earning under approximately 100% of AMI.

The developers plan to hire a management company that specializes in running such co-living buildings. Residents would have access to a building-only social-media app, through which they could get to know their neighbors - and sign up for movie nights and Friendsgiving-type events in the building and, once there is more than one co-living building in the Boston area, larger mixers and other events.

In addition to event programming, the functionality of the Connect by Common app allows Common residents to chat with other individuals in the building (with oversight by Common) and plan smaller, interest-based gatherings. Connect by Common also provides the opportunity for Common to patronize surrounding businesses through partnership and perk programs.

525 Lincoln St. project-notification form (120M PDF).

Free tagging: 



This would be a great way to live with friends and get up to lots of no good in retirement.

Looks like a great alternative to A Big House.

Voting closed 49

It's not exactly the same but there are some formalized, communal living arrangements like this in Cambridge. The all collectively own the building like a co-op but have shared meals where people take turns cooking. There's often a mix of elderly and families.

From the people I've spoken to, they love being there. You need to commit to helping the community (meals, etc) but it's like being in a big family. Some people love that connection.

This concept is worth a try in Boston.

Voting closed 4

We were involved with one of those groups, but we had to get out of our 1br apartment with two kids, so we bought elsewhere.

We checked in on the one about to build in Malden, but it is still too soon for us - we need to fledge the younger kiddo before we move on.

Keeping the dream alive. Might be able to round up friends with paid off mortgages and use the collateral to all build one together. Can dream.

Voting closed 5

I'm involved with the Malden group--we encourage people to get to know us even if they know they won't be ready for some years.

Voting closed 6

I lived in something very similar in Leeds, UK when I studied abroad back in college. It was a private building in that case, contracted with the university for graduate students, adult students, and study abroad attendees. While this would not be associated with an individual school like that it is very similar except we shared bathrooms between 2 tenants in a 4 bedroom suite (so two bathrooms per suite vs what seems to be 4 per here though the designs show 2...). There was a common reading/hang out area, common kitchen, and laundry.

It worked really well and was totally fine. I met some of my other neighbors, one was a couple, the other 2 were single grad students who kept to themselves. The floor below me had some families with young kids etc.

While this may not be for everybody I guarantee there are at least 282 people in the entire City of Boston that would sign up for this.

Voting closed 8

latest survey: these 5 cities in THE WORLD have the highest average rents.


Voting closed 3

Won't this just fill up with BU students? It's similar to concept to sharing a house with a bunch of roommates, except this has what people today would consider an acceptable number of bathrooms. It's adding housing and is similar in function to much of the student or young-adult housing in that area. Build it!

Voting closed 2

And hopefully it relieve pressure on the rents of 3-4 bedroom units so families can actually afford them.

Voting closed 0

Back in my day (the late 1980's) I lived in this exact situation -- a four bedroom Harold Brown apartment in Allston, in a building of four bedroom apartments, in a neighborhood of four bedroom apartment buildings. My roommates had been strangers and we found each other through the Boston Phoenix. But my rent was $200 a month.

Voting closed 7

and you've got boarding houses, where you pay for a separate room and share a kitchen/living spaces with everyone else. Really, the idea that everyone needs their own separate kitchen and living room is a pretty new concept.

Voting closed 7

Back in the 70s my friend lived in a rooming house on Beacon St. It was a town house that had been cut up into tiny rooms, apparently back in the 40s. There was no kitchen, and a shared bathroom. He cooked with a hot plate and washed dishes in the bathroom. There were lots of rooming houses all over the Back Bay. Then came the mid 80s and condomania. The rest is history

Voting closed 21

Boston and almost every other city in the US moved to regulate boarding houses out of existence in the 1960s. Some of them were squalid and many were dangerous - however, it was largely a pretense to eliminate affordable housing for people who lacked means.

Voting closed 6

looks a little small.

Voting closed 8

Seems totally reasonable to me. How much space do you need for a closet right in front of the front door?

Voting closed 14

Sorry, meant to say: Where’s the parking?

282 bedrooms with 30 parking spots? That car elevator to bring that total to 60 sounds like it is not a certainty.

Still- 60 parking spots for 282 bedrooms?

With 60 parking spots, that will come out to a .2 (parking spots per bedroom)

Empire street is right there and never has any available street parking. Same for Royal St.

These people will park on Mansfield st until those 2 building upgrades at the end of Mansfield st are finished, then there won’t be parking there either.

This is an absolutely awful proposal with regard to the parking impact. You’ll see me speaking out against this at local meetings.

Voting closed 6

Either the developer is right and people will move there despite the lack of parking, or else the developer will have to lower the price in order to attract people who can live with that. Why should that matter to anyone else?

The minimum number of parking spaces that the zoning law requires should be zero. The market can determine how many are really needed.

Voting closed 30

You’re right- people will move here despite lack of parking.

They will probably bring their cars with them, get a resident parking sticker, and park on Mansfield st, since Empire St and Royal St already have full street parking 24/7.

If developers are asking the community to vote in favor of code violations (which I assume this new proposal has at least a couple), they need to offer a proposal that is not a negative impact to the community.

30 parking spots for 282 bedrooms? That is going to make an already bad parking situation in this area much worse. I will be asking the developer to come back with a better proposal.

Voting closed 29

Instead of fighting back against this sort of thing development by development, pressure needs to be put on the city to fix the parking permit process. The city actively loses money on issuing permits, which are free and unlimited, and can't even keep track of who has one and if they even still live in the city.

The permit office needs to be cleaned out top to bottom, preferably paid for by a token fee for each permit (somerville, cambridge, etc, all charge 20-50 dollars for a permit and their process and procedures are much better run than boston's as a result). Lists should be kept and PROPER re-accreditation should be required. Furthermore, developments like this, with little/no parking, should be added to a "do not issue" address list, where anyone at that street address cannot be issued a permit. Some developers have promised as much but since it's the city's office and the city's incompetence, those are empty promises.

Why long term residents are against this sort of thing, I'll never understand. You really prefer the clogging up of parking and spots by students who bring their cars and abandon them in a spot for months at a time, ex-bostonian, now-new hampshirites milking that old sticker as long as they can, a single person taking up 5, 6, 7 spots for their weekend cars? "visitor" spots getting taken by residents so nobody can ever visit you? (again, somerville's visitor permit system is a huge improvement on ours) I'd easily pay 100$ a year for a permit if it meant the system ACTUALLY preserved parking for ACTUAL residents.

Voting closed 9

The bottom line here is this developer is asking the community to approve of multiple variances/code modifications to this property. Those variances/code modifications include:

The Project will require variances relating to use, height, floor area ratio, and rear yard setback. Pursuant to Article 51, section 51-56, parking and loading dock requirements will be determined as part of the Article 80 (Large Project Review) process with the BPDA. Table 2-3 below compares the Project with the NS-1 zoning sub-district which governs the use of the Site.

This is the time for the community to work with the developer to provide an outcome that is positive for all parties involved. If the developer were to agree to additional parking spaces, I believe the community should support these variances. If there is a higher financial cost for the developer to add additional parking spaces, the developer should be willing to pay those additional costs so there is no negative parking impact on the surrounding community.

If the developer were to agree to additional parking, I believe the community should support the variances which are being requested by this developer.

Bottom line- Put the interests of the community over the financial interest of developers!

Voting closed 8

Oh no, the horror! Next you'll be telling me they'll be sitting in open seats on the train, or buying tickets to shows that aren't sold out yet! Damn them for using an available resource that's not being used by anyone else!

Voting closed 7

There is a serious lack of available parking spaces on Empire st, Royal st, or Lincoln St (directly around this development). These are not "open parking spots" as you say.

If you want to support a developer who is asking for code modifications/variances, while being cheap by not making more parking available, I cannot change that. But I support members of our community over the profits of developers!

Voting closed 6

Then people from this building won't be using it, so there's no problem. If there is parking available somewhere, then it's free for anyone with the proper permit to use. We shouldn't increase the price of construction and require developers to build parking that may or may not be used so that "members of the community" can stake their claim on unused parking spaces.

Voting closed 15

Street parking is a public resource.

The people who use it today have no right to prevent newcomers from using it. If they don't want the increased competition, they're free to rent an off-street space, the same as anyone else. Or go car-free.

Some of the most pleasant neighborhoods in greater Boston have dozens of apartment buildings with no off-street parking. Unfortunately it became illegal to build without parking in the early 1960s. It's time to undo that mistake.

Voting closed 7

I wonder if the developer cams up with that number for spaces by each suite gets one parking spot. These people are living in a shared living place why not share a car since this is a city with decent public transit, MBTA slacking aside.

Voting closed 10

I think we could use more options like this in the Boston area. When I graduated from college I would have loved an option like this.

My one concern is the fact that room mates seem like they will be put in at random. I think that could work... if they had a cleaning service come in once a week or twice a month to hit the common areas. Just enough to stop people from going at each other for not mopping the floor.

Voting closed 6

it would be the perfect environment for people to learn how to maintain a home and live peacefully with others.

otherwise, you're just talking about a hotel.

Voting closed 22