Developer revises plans for Dot Block project
The latest version of the long-stalled Dot Block project near Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood could feature a lot more housing than the previous plan, significantly less parking, and some of the first apartments built under Boston’s new “Compact Living” program.
Those are among details filed this week by Samuels & Associates, the veteran local real estate firm leading the long-discussed Dorchester Avenue development. It was brought in by billionaire investor Gerald Chan, whose real estate fund purchased the project in 2016, and will launch a public review with an aim to start construction by year’s end.
The revised proposal makes changes to a Dot Block plan approved by the city in 2016. Gone is an above-ground garage, replaced with 1.3 acres of park space, and a below-ground parking garage with roughly 100 fewer spaces. Retail space designed to house a supermarket is replaced with smaller storefronts aimed to attract local shops and restaurants. A plan for 362 apartments in four buildings has been expanded to include 488 units.
In a small nod to concerns about rising rent and displacement of residents in the Dorchester neighborhood, Samuels is offering to set 15 percent of the 126 additional apartments at city-mandated affordable rents, up from the 13 percent the city usually requires. Some of those units also will be more affordable for lower-income residents than similar apartments in new market-rate buildings. Housing advocates have pushed for higher affordability requirements in the neighborhood as part of new zoning rules the Boston Planning & Development Agency is crafting.
Samuels also wants to make 96 of the apartments smaller — tapping a “Compact Living” pilot program the Boston Planning & Development Agency launched last year that allows for less square footage and lower parking requirements — as another way to lower rents. In all, Samuels estimates the cost of building Dot Block will rise from $150 million estimated under the old plan to about $200 million, though the cost per unit will fall slightly.
Residents — some of whom in the past have voiced concern about increased traffic on Dorchester Avenue and worry that blocks of massive apartment complexes could feel out of place in the three-decker neighborhood — will soon have a chance to share their thoughts. A community meeting is set for Wednesday night, launching a round of public review.
“We look forward to working with residents, city, and elected representatives to move forward with a plan that increases housing availability, including offering a diverse mix of market rate and affordable units,” said Samuels executive vice president Abe Menzin.