Developers get OK for high-rise affordable housing on Chinatown parking lot
Millennium Partners and a team of developers it’s leading received a green light Thursday to turn a Chinatown parking lot into a high-rise full of affordable housing.
The Boston Planning & Development Agency awarded the big developer, along with Asian Community Development Corporation, Corcoran Jennison Cos., and Tufts University, the rights to build on a city-owned lot on Tremont Street. They plan to put a roughly 30-story tower on the site, with 45 apartments for low-income renters and about 107 condos with prices geared to lower- and middle-income homeowners.
The project would also include an expanded Doubletree Hotel on one side, owned by Corcoran Jennison, and an expanded Tufts Medical Center garage on the other. It would be among the largest affordable housing developments built in Boston in recent years, in a part of the city where rents have surged and many longtime renters have been priced out. The BPDA was aiming for affordable housing when it sought proposals for the lot last year, and that’s what has been proposed, said director Brian Golden.
“We only got one respondent” to the request for proposals, he said. “But we got exactly what we wanted.”
Millennium will finance much of the $175 million project through affordable housing payments it’s required to make as part of the $1.35 billion condo and office tower the developer is building at Winthrop Square nearby. The nonprofit Asian CDC plans to pursue federal housing tax credits to fund the rental units, while Tufts and Corcoran will pay for their portions of the project, said Joe Larkin, who heads Millennium’s Boston office.
“This is a really complex project,” Larkin said. “But it’s a really interesting concept. You have two nonprofits and two for-profit developers teaming up to do something the city has really asked for.”
Thursday’s vote was just the first step. Next, developers will file formal plans and go through a BPDA review and public meetings. The project has already changed once; when Millennium and its partners first proposed the building it was set to hold 171 units in the same amount of space. Now it’s down to 152.
Other details remain to be hashed out, as well, such as what will go in the ground floor. Golden said the lobby could serve as a permanent home for the new Chinatown branch library, though nothing has been decided.
Regardless, its days as a parking lot appear numbered.
“That is not the highest and best use of this parcel,” Golden said.