Business & Tech

Northeastern dorm project moves forward

An 812-bed dorm at Northeastern University won the blessing of a key city board Thursday night.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority approved plans for a 21-story residential tower on Columbus Ave., clearing the way for construction to start later this year. The dorm is one of several in the works at local universities, part of a broad push by schools and Mayor Martin J. Walsh to add more on-campus student housing in the city.

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Northeastern’s project is among the first in Boston to be built in partnership with a private-sector developer. It will be built and operated by American Campus Communities, a publicly-traded company based in Texas company that is the nation’s largest student housing developer. American Campus will lease the site from Northeastern and set rents, though it will be subject to university housing rules.

“This could be a very exciting precedent for Northeastern and other univerities in Boston to produce the quanitity of student housing that the Mayor is seeking,” said Kathy Spiegelman, Northeastern’s chief of campus planning.

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It met sharp opposition from City Council member Tito Jackson, however. Jackson represents the area where it will be built, and said the building is taller than earlier plans for the site. He also worried that a big dorm on the edge of Lower Roxbury could destabilize the neighborhood.

“I frankly am not comfortable with a company from Texas controlling 812 upperclass college students,” he said. “I emphatically stand against this project.”

The BRA also approved a new 215,000 square foot student recreation center at Boston College, with a gym, swimming and diving center and tennis courts.

Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.
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