Hey, there! Log in / Register

Board approves replacing old Greenway garage with 11-story lab building

Rendeirng of proposed 125 Lincoln St.

Rendering by S9 Architecture.

The Zoning Board of Appeal today approved an Ontario developer's plans to replace the aging parking garage at 125 Lincoln St. with an 11-story life-sciences building with ground-floor space for a banquet hall - and with plans for 50 to 60 units of affordable housing on Essex Street.

Oxford Properties Group of Toronto - owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System - will deed a building it now owns at 79 Essex St. to the Asian Community Development Corp. for the housing, and is asking the BPDA to use several million dollars in linkage fees from the Lincoln Street building towards the housing.

The project includes 16,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial street. At the request of the community, Oxford said it will work to include a banquet hall in that space - possibly even through the return of Hei La Moon, which had long been located on the first floor of the garage, but which moved to Essex Street as planning for the garage's demise advanced. However, C-Mart, which had also been in the garage, shut for good after the pandemic began, and will not be returning, Oxford said.

The company's proposal also includes putting a deck over part of the tunnel entrance off Surface Road, and would have 150 parking spaces - the same as the current building houses, but all underground.

The building would be licensed for a Level 2 biosafety level - which would allow research on "moderate-risk infectious agents or toxins that pose a risk if accidentally inhaled, swallowed, or exposed to the skin." The Boston University biolab on Albany Street is licensed for Level 4, which allows study of the world's deadliest microorganisms. Oxford says it does not yet have a tenant for the space, but is confident it can find one or more - and that, just in case, the space will be designed for easy conversion to more traditional office space.

Residents who testified split between support and opposition for the project, which underwent three years of discussion before the BPDA finally approved it last year. The project also needed zoning-board approval because, among other reasons, it would be taller and denser on the site than allowed by the lot's zoning.

Supporters pointed to the elimination of a blighted structure, proposed sidewalk and park work that would help stitch together Chinatown and the Leather District and the addition of affordable housing to a neighborhood that desperately needs it.

Debbie Ho of Chinatown Main Streets called the proposal "a win for the community" in part because 125 Lincoln St. has been "in distress for many years." Also supporting the proposal: City Councilors Ed Flynn, whose district includes Chinatown and Michael Flaherty (at large). An aide to Flynn said the councilor was particularly gratified by the way Oxford shrunk the size of the building from its original 24-story proposal and added the Essex Street housing.

Opponents said the building was simply too big - nearly twice as tall as allowed under Greenway zoning - , which would mean shadows on both the Greenway and nearby residential units as well as even more congestion on local streets.

Lawrence Chan, who lives at 116 Lincoln St., right across the street from the site, said the area already suffers from pollution from I-93, South Station and just general traffic and that the building would only bring about more.

Kathryn Friedman, an architect who lives in the Leather District and who sat on the BPDA's impact advisory group for the project, said zoning is designed to protect Boston from "harmful development," but that this proposal is basically "zero zoning" that would place a "significant burden on its neighborhood and the public realm."

The board approved the proposal unanimously.

125 Lincoln St. filings.



Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!


Life science and banquet hall ?? life science is now merging with discotheque’s equipped with full liquor bars .

Voting closed 0

Eleven stories is too tall?!? Its a block from 1 Lincoln which is 36 stories.

Voting closed 0

But, yes, there is a zoning district that runs along the Greenway that is designed to keep the Greenway from sitting in shadows all day long, and the height limit is 100 feet.

Voting closed 1

So many of these things coming up to the board are hideous but this is actually really nice. It does some clever tricks with the step-backs and the use of stone that make it look a lot shorter than 11 stories even from the front. Walking by the completed building at sidewalk level, it'll probably feel 5-7 at most.

Lots of positives here - ANY decking over the highway should be applauded, good mix of uses, affordable housing... hope it can deliver.

Voting closed 0

Finally! Took them long enough. Damn shame about the grocery store though. Chinatown is turning into one of those food deserts.

That being said has anyone on the boards been down there lately? Lincoln Street I mean. There used to be a pizza shop almost right on the corner near #1 and a shop that sold telescopes and binoculars on the same side of the street. My favorite spot down there was a little shop across the street that sold ink stamps and other ephemera. I don't recall what it was called?

Voting closed 0

It's too bad the number of parking spaces isn't being reduced. This was our chance to undo the mistake of building a large parking structure downtown.

Voting closed 0

Maybe if they offer C-Mart space in the new building, they'd be more willing to vacate their existing space.

Voting closed 0