One of the largest development projects to ever hit the Allston-Brighton neighborhood got a green light from Boston planning officials.
Allston Yards, a massive complex of apartments and condos on the site of the Stop & Shop off Everett Street near the Massachusetts Turnpike, won approval from the Boston Planning & Development Agency board despite concerns from some neighbors and elected officials that it would provide too little affordable housing
The 1.2 million-square-foot complex on 10.6 acres will have four buildings roughly the scale of the New Balance headquarters complex next door. It will include a new supermarket, office building, street-level retail, and up to 868 apartments and condos, adding to the mini-city developing along that corridor of Allston and neighboring Brighton.
“We’re excited about this,” said John Twohig, executive vice president at New England Development, which is partnering with Stop & Shop on the project. “We think it’s going to be a great project.”
Opinion in the neighborhood was split, with some residents supporting the additional housing and trading a suburban-style shopping plaza for denser mixed-use development, while others said it created too little new affordable housing and would overly burden public transportation in the area.
The project went through numerous revisions over nearly two years of city review, with developers dedicating more of the units to condos, instead of rental apartments, and offering to pay for shuttles and subsidize additional Commuter Rail service. They have also pledged $4 million for homeownership programs in the neighborhood. Those shifts helped win support from some Allston-Brighton neighborhood groups.
“There’ve been a lot of changes to this project and it’s all to the better,” John Cusack, a nearby resident, said at Thursday’s hearing.
But others said the changes were not enough, in particular noting that most of the project’s 148 units of affordable housing will be built in later phases. They also argued there wasn’t sufficient time for residents to review the most recent proposals before the BPDA vote.
Many residents, as well as incoming City Councilor Liz Breadon and both of Allston-Brighton’s state representatives, had asked the BPDA to delay its vote. A letter Thursday from a group called the Brighton-Allston Community Coalition labeled Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s support of the project “a betrayal” of the need for more affordable housing in a neighborhood poised to see a lot of new development in the years to come.
“The Mayor’s actions are ominous and set a deeply unfortunate precedent for future large-scale projects in Allston-Brighton, including Harvard University’s expansive development plans,” wrote the group’s leaders.
Nonetheless, the BPDA voted unanimously to approve the project. It still needs other city approvals but is on track to start construction next year.
Tim Logan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.