The Massachusetts Port Authority has finalized plans for an unusual, if not unique, $170 million affordable housing project in Boston’s Seaport district, the city’s most affluent neighborhood.
The 224,000-square-foot project calls for the construction of a 15-story tower with 200 apartments, all of which will be below-market rate, the Boston Globe reported.
The project is a joint venture between Boston-based housing developer The Community Builders and the Black-owned development firm Menkiti Group from Washington, D.C. The tower will feature 15,000 square feet for child care and retail, employ all-electric systems, and sport solar panels on its roof.
Efforts have been underway to increase housing stock in Boston as well as bring rents under control. A rent-control measure was blocked by the State House last spring. But earlier this month, state Rep. Mike Connolly’s petition to lift the 1994 statewide ban on rent control was certified by the Massachusetts attorney general. Voters will now have the opportunity to weigh in on the matter in an upcoming election.
The income-restricted apartments will be available at four different income tiers, from 30 percent of the area median income (approximately $44,520 for a family of four) to 120 percent (about $178,080). Monthly rents are expected to range from $950 to over $3,000, depending on household income and size.
The authority, a major landowner in the Seaport area, has played a pivotal role in the neighborhood’s rapid development. Its initiative to engage affordable housing developers began nearly two years ago, as Boston grapples with a growing affordability crisis.
In selecting The Community Builders, Massport emphasized diversity, project design, and programming. In addition, Massport prioritized the project’s affordability over its financial return, it said.
Securing permits and financing could take up to three years, according to Andrew Hargens, Massport’s chief development officer. The project is likely to seek state and federal affordable housing subsidies.
— Ted Glanzer