It has been a “tech center.” It has been a warehouse. It has sat unused for more than a decade. Now it could become an “innovation village.”
The developer Berkeley Investments on Tuesday filed plans with the city to turn a long-empty warehouse on Lincoln Street in Brighton into a three-building campus of apartments, offices, and laboratory space. The five-acre site, overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike, has been largely vacant since it was built in the early 2000s to house a telecom company that went bust before it even opened, but it sits in a corridor of Allston-Brighton that is now booming with development.
Since 2006, the building has been owned by Harvard University, which last year reached a deal with Berkeley, a veteran Boston-area builder, to partner on a project there. Financial terms have not been made public. But in an initial filing with the Boston Planning & Development Agency on Tuesday, Berkeley took the wraps off what it has planned.
The developer would knock down the giant warehouse and replace it with three buildings. Two would be commercial — a mix of office and lab space — with about 548,000 square feet in all. The third would be for 314 housing units. There would be 20,000 square feet of retail space, below-ground parking, and about one acre of publicly accessible open space.
The idea, said Berkeley’s president, Young Park, is to create an “innovation village” that would help connect the fast-growing Boston Landing complex just south of the Pike with the rapidly developing corridor along Western Avenue, which like the innovation village’s site is north of the highway.
“Boston is at its best when people with different talents, interests and ideas come together,” Park said in a statement. “With life sciences as its anchor, 176 Lincoln is envisioned as an ecosystem of different uses that is more than the sum of its parts — home to potential medical breakthroughs alongside creative works, all with a community feel that is welcoming to everyone.”
Tuesday’s filing is preliminary. More details are likely in a few weeks, followed by rounds of public meetings and community reviews.
Neighborhood groups in Allston-Brighton have in recent years pushed for more homeownership opportunities in the largely rental neighborhoods, as well as more affordable housing and transportation improvements. It wasn’t immediately clear if Berkeley envisions apartments or condos, or how much of the housing might be set aside at below-market prices.
Still, the project looks like it would bring a variety of long-needed improvements to the area, from pedestrian enhancements to open space, said Anthony D’Isadoro, president of the Allston Civic Association.
“This seems like it’s a very well thought out design,” said D’Isadoro, who Berkeley briefed on the project ahead of filing. “I think when people see it, they’ll be pleasantly relieved.”
It’s also one of the first large development proposals to be filed with BPDA since the coronavirus pandemic struck. The development agency has mostly been closed to new projects since March and has held just a handful of virtual public meetings to discuss projects on its docket.
But it appears the city’s development process is starting to rumble back to life. Another developer, Related Beal, filed plans Monday to convert the soon-to-close campus of Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology on Berkeley Street in the South End into senior housing and office space. That, too, will start moving through community review in the coming months.