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BPDA says city should reject Amazon warehouse in South Boston

It says the company’s plans don’t mesh with a vision for housing and office space on the Dorchester Avenue site.

Amazon is seeking to build a so-called last mile distribution center in South Boston.Michel Spingler/Associated Press

Amazon’s bid to build a distribution center on busy Dorchester Avenue in South Boston took a big blow this week.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency on Thursday shot down the idea, saying it doesn’t fit with BPDA plans for denser housing and office development on the site, just north of the Andrew Square Red Line station.

In a memo to the Zoning Board of Appeal — which is set to vote on the matter in November — the BPDA recommended rejecting a proposal by developer Core Investments to convert a 96,000-square-foot warehouse into a so-called last mile distribution center from which waves of delivery vans would shuttle goods across the city each day.


The project has been hotly debated in the neighborhood since it was proposed this spring. And, BPDA officials said Friday, it simply doesn’t comport with Plan Dot Ave., a 2016 zoning plan that envisions remaking the formerly-industrial corridor along Dorchester Avenue into a lively mixed-use neighborhood.

“The project, as presently constituted, is not compatible with the long-term goal of the planning study,” said Jon Greeley, the BPDA’s director of development review. “A big piece of that is making sure we can have a wide range of growth up and down the Dot Ave. corridor.”

Core tried to ease those concerns by promising the warehouse would be temporary. The company said it would sign a 10-year lease with Amazon and use the proceeds for environmental cleanup of other sites it owns nearby. A spokesman Friday said Core had no comment on the BPDA’s decision. Amazon did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The e-commerce giant has quickly grown its distribution network here in recent years, as it tries to accelerate next and same-day delivery in major markets such as Boston. In July it opened an 800,000- square-foot delivery center at the former NECCO candy factory in Revere, and has opened or signed leases on seven other such facilities in Massachusetts just this year, including the one proposed for South Boston.


But this isn’t the first time they’ve gotten pushback. Amazon walked away from a similar last-mile center in Braintree last year, amid disputes with the town over traffic management and signage on delivery vans.

The company is not necessarily done on Dot Avenue. The BDPA’s move is simply a recommendation to the Zoning Board, though a ZBA vote to approve despite it would be unusual. Greeley said the agency could be open to revisiting the plan with some changes.

“We couldn’t get to a place where we could support this, but there’s no malice here,” he said. “We expect to continue to work with the Core team and with Amazon, as they have lots of investments in the city.”

Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him @bytimlogan.