THE STREETS around North Station used to be a good spot to catch a game, a fight, and some cheap drinks, but not much else. Two massive spans of green steel — the Central Artery and the Green Line viaduct — soared over the neighborhood, walling it off from the rest of Boston and driving development away. Streets were either dark and abandoned, or they were raucous and overrun; little ground stood between those two poles. Now, however, those same streets comprise one of Boston’s hottest development markets. The Beal Companies and the Related Companies are building a new headquarters for Converse, along with 100 housing units, on one side of North Station; AvalonBay is constructing 503 apartments on the other side. Just across Causeway Street, apartments and hotel rooms are rising on parcels that have stood vacant for years.
All told, more than 1,100 housing units are either under construction or soon breaking ground around North Station, and that figure doesn’t factor massive redevelopments currently being proposed for the Garden Garage and the lot where the Boston Garden used to stand. The surge in investment has been a long time coming, but the shift from part-time watering hole to genuine neighborhood has been incredibly abrupt.