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Affordable housing units, cafe space proposed for Southie lot

Rendering of the proposed affordable rental apartments and cafe space at 206 West Broadway in South Boston.
Rendering of the proposed affordable rental apartments and cafe space at 206 West Broadway in South Boston.(South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation)

There could soon be a space available for a coffee shop in South Boston, but Starbucks need not apply.

About a mile from the East Broadway spot where the Seattle-based coffee giant was denied entry by the city, there is a proposal for a new affordable housing development with ground floor space for a small coffee shop or eatery.

“Ideally something locally-owned. Nobody wanted a chain,” said Donna Brown, executive director of South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation, which is co-developing the project with Caritas Communities Inc.

Cranberry Cafe, one of the biggest opponents of the Starbucks proposal, has “expressed interest” in opening a new location in the space at 206 West Broadway, but no agreement has been reached, Brown said.

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Cranberry owner Cathe Walsh did not respond to a request for comment.

“We’ll be looking at some kind of cafe and we’d like to work with a local business,” Brown said. “It’s not the kind of thing where you take the highest bid, you take the best proposal. The neighbors very strongly wanted a local business or cafe on that site.”

Apart from eschewing chains, the project’s proposed 16 rental units will be affordable amid a sea of market-rate housing.

The nonprofit was selected in 2014 to develop the two city-owned vacant parcels at 206-212 West Broadway, where it wants to build a four-story building with 16 studio- and 1-bedroom units. Development was halted for two years as the city cleaned the contaminated parcels that once housed a dry cleaning business, Brown said.

Located along an MBTA bus route and two blocks from the red line’s Broadway stop, the proposed apartment units, dubbed 206 West, would be available to people with incomes at or below 80 percent, 60 percent and 30 percent of the area’s median income. So the maximum annual income for a single person would be just under $55,000 and about $63,000 for two people, Brown said.

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The proposal is currently under review by the Boston Redevelopment Authority and open to public comments. If approved, Brown said construction could start next spring, with completion expected in 2018.


Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.