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Group that has already built 86 affordable apartments across from Roxbury Crossing T stop wants to put up 94 more instead of the office building it once planned

Rendering of proposed new building

Drone's-eye view from atop Roxbury Crossing T stop by Utile.

Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services this week submitted plans to the BPDA for a six-story, 94-unit apartment building between Tremont Street and Station Street along the Orange Line and Northeast Corridor tracks instead of the ten-story office building it had already won approval for.

The apartments, all to be rented to people making between 30% and 70% of the Boston area median income, would be next to 86 affordable apartments the group has put up along Tremont Street - 40 of which are now occupied and 46 for which the group hopes to gain a certificate of occupancy within the next few weeks.

The newest building would sit on a three-quarter-acre site that had been used as a staging area for construction for the first two buildings, according to the group's notice of project change.

Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Service said it decided to change its plans for the lot from offices to apartments in part because of declining demand for office space - even before the pandemic - in part because of "the dire need for additional affordable rental housing" on Mission Hill. It said it received 3,100 applications for the 46 apartments in the newer of the two buildings now up. The filing adds:

Despite years of pursuit, this institutional office space "economic engine" of the redevelopment of Parcel 25 did not materialize and became less necessary to the development goals of the overall phased project. Additionally, further understanding of existing site conditions and costs of construction made it clear that a 10-story building of steel construction with plates of below ground parking were no longer financially viable.

The new building would consist of five residential floors atop a ground floor that would include a 33-space garage - 8 spaces for resident of the new building and the rest for use by residential, commercial and office tenants in one of the other buildings. In its filing, the group noted the city no longer requires any parking for buildings in which all the units are rented as affordable. It would also be across the street from the Roxbury Crossing Orange Line stop.

Some 15 of the units would have three bedrooms, while another 15 would be fully handicap accessible. The building would also have a community room.

Along with the new building, Mission Hill says it would work with the city and the T to install a new cross-block crosswalk to the Roxbury Crossing T stop:

The Proponent is working with the City and the MBTA to realize the long-desired midblock crosswalk at [Tremont Street] as part of the MBTA's redesigns along Columbus Avenue/Tremont Street and will also work to allow for some short-term drop off spaces on this Tremont Street front and at the Gurney Street intersection at the entry to that portion of the pedestrian plaza.

Parcel 25 filings and meeting schedule.

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Comments

In its filing, the group noted the city no longer requires any parking for buildings in which all the units are rented as affordable.

Can't wait for the NIMBYs to acknowledge that maybe affordable housing without parking is good, actually.

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Can't wait for the NIMBYs to acknowledge that maybe affordable housing without parking is good, actually.

I'll file that in the law of unintended consequences column.

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Also being on the Southwest Corridor bike path.

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What a great project! Honestly, I wish they had kept it at 10 stories and converted all 10 floors to housing. Why the decrease in height? We could have fit even more housing in!

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At 10 stories, they'd have to use all steel construction, which they said would be financially impractical for an office building, while at 6, they could put up a steel/concrete podium with five stories of wood construction on top of that.

Also, there might be a limit to how much money they have to subsidize units.

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6 floors is the magic number for new apt buildings.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/5-over-1

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Why would a neighborhood CDC that builds and promotes affordable housing in the Mission Hill area bring forth a plan to build office space?

Their own statement quotes the "dire need for additional affordable rental housing" yet they spent a considerable amount of money to develop an office building.

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I would suspect, but could be wrong, that the original idea was to have rents from the office building support the affordable housing.

I don't know the details, but the filing does say that they managed to figure out how to support the housing (more tax credits?) without the office rent - even aside from the issue of nobody wanting that much office space in that location and the higher than expected costs of putting up the building.

The original project notification form filed in 2014 doesn't specify why they wanted to put up offices, other than that all those new employees would mean more businesses for surrounding shops and restaurants. At the time, proponents said the overall complex would do for that end of Tremont Street what the mixed-use development with the Stop & Shop did for the Brigham Circle end.

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Adam, Yes

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Developing office space used to be a bit more of a priority, particularly if it creates spaces outside of downtown for businesses to develop, places for health care and services within neighborhoods, and economic activity which may benefit those in the housing.

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Yes! More much needed housing!

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