The Boston Planning and Development Agency board on Thursday approved $1.05 billion worth of real estate development projects across the city, including several large projects in Allston/Brighton such as an apartment tower on the site of the former Boston Skating Club site and a 12-story laboratory facing the Massachusetts Turnpike.
The board also gave its final designation to Nubian Ascends Partners LLC to create a roughly 390,000-square-foot mixed-use hub at the former Blair’s Foodland store in Roxbury, which will include a life-science training center, artist housing, cultural hall and community center, and a parking garage. The BPDA released an RFP for the nearly 2-acre surface parking lot in 2019, and the minority-led Nubian Ascends development consortium got tentative designation the following December.
The group has partnered with the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology, Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, Roxbury Community College, Northeastern University, and MassBioEd to support a pipeline of life-science workers in the region.
Nubian Square was renamed from Dudley Square in 2019 following a five-year community effort, and many projects in and around the square will bring “much-needed affordable housing” to the neighborhood, said developer Richard Taylor of Nubian Ascends Partners. But, he added, “affordable housing by itself does not create an ecosystem of cultural and economic vitality. And that’s what we’ll do.”
A significant amount of public infrastructure work — such as curb cuts, sidewalks and a new bus stop — has already begun, Taylor said. He expects to begin construction on 15 units of artist housing and a 6,000-square-foot artist lab and maker space later this year, followed by the garage. Financing is already in place for the housing, and profits from the garage can be used to fund additional commercial phases.
The BPDA board also approved several large-scale projects in Allston/Brighton, including a 70-unit condo project at 75 Tremont St. in Brighton and a $366 million plan to redevelop the former Boston Skating Club site at 1234-1240 Soldiers Field Road in Allston with four new buildings, including an 18-story, 395-unit apartment tower, a revamped Studio Allston Hotel, an affordable condo and apartment building developed in partnership with the Allston Brighton Community Development Corp. and The Community Builders and a 76-unit condo building. Across the Massachusetts Turnpike, next to New Balance’s Boston Landing campus, the BPDA board approved a 12-story life-science laboratory fronting the Pike and a seven-story, 88-unit residential building at 119 Braintree St.; along with a 150-unit condo project at 52 Everett St.
BPDA Director Arthur Jemison noted community concerns about multiple large-scale construction projects happening at once, and said the agency would work toward coordinated construction management plans.
“We don’t want the growth to happen at the cost of people,” Jemison said.
Boston City Councilor Liz Breadon voiced her support for the projects at the meeting, noting her appreciation for developers providing $1 million to help artists relocate from 119 Braintree St.
“The existing building at 119 Braintree St. has long served as a creative hub for Allston-based artists,” Breadon said.
The board also approved 89 income-restricted units in the final phase of the Boston Housing Authority’s Old Colony redevelopment in South Boston; a five-story, 124-unit apartment project at 361-371 Belgrade Ave. in Roslindale — where Roxbury Prep had long sought to build a charter school before moving to another spot; and a 52-unit housing project at 13 Norwood St. in Dorchester.