Plans to Transform Shawmut Ave and Washington Street Corridor are Underway

By Beth Treffeisen

Running along Herald Street in the South End, major plans to transform a forgotten block between Shawmut Avenue and Washington Street are underway with hopes of re-doing three buildings to serve both the Chinese community in Chinatown (located across I-90 Turnpike) and residents of the South End to help alleviate the housing crunch in both neighborhoods.

Affordable housing rose as the biggest concern from community members at a public meeting held by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 112 Shawmut Ave.

“The number of units of affordable housing is a key component to this neighborhood,” said Steve Fox, moderator of the South End Forum, at the meeting.

All three proponents to the project agreed that the goal is to create more affordable units than is mandated under the Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP), but it is too soon to know what kind of funding is available for expanded affordable housing components.

Between the three buildings, there will be a total of 521 housing units. Under IDP, 20 percent, or 103 units, will be mandated as affordable.

“It is still in the early stage and we need to work on it more,” said Paul Chan of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England (CCBA). “If there is a way, I think we will find it.”

He continued, “There is so much we don’t know today. Especially, when you start taking into account the market three years from now and how many subsidies there will be. Hopefully the market will be just as good as it is today.”

The separate owners of the buildings will be responsible for their own land, but the overall site will be under one Project Development Area (PDA) that will be by the BPDA.

DIV Shawmut, LLC (an affiliate of The Davis Companies) are behind the 112 Shawmut Ave. building, Boston Chinese Evangelical Church (BCEC) is behind the 120 Shawmut Ave. building, and the CCBA is behind 50 Herald St. building.

All of the three buildings will be at various heights, but none will be higher than 150 feet.

The 112 Shawmut Ave. site, run by The Davis Companies, a Boston-based national real estate investment, development and management company, will partially demolish the existing building with the exception of the street-facing façades that will be incorporated in the new design.

The new construction will extend east and above the existing building. The overall property will include 143 residential units, retail and café space and 124 parking spaces.

The 50 Herald Sr. site owned by the CCBA, a non-profit organization established in 1986 to serve and unite the Chinese community that includes community charitable and education activities hope to expand their services through including more housing.

The CCBA property will include more than 300 residential units, community and or commercial space, and 120 parking spaces.

The CCBA building currently holds the C-Mart super market that specializes in Asian foods. Chan said that the CCBA is currently taking steps to end the long-term lease with the supermarket to allow for the construction of the new building. Current plans include having 1,400 square feet of retail to allow the store to return if they chose to.

The 120 Shawmut Ave. property owned the BCEC; a non-profit religious organization that comprises the largest Asian church in New England hopes to expand their scope and services through this new building.

The BCEC site will include religious, community center uses from educational, social services meetings, office space and a gymnasium, along with 72 units of multi-family dwellings, a small ground floor retail space and 30 parking spaces.

Landscaping plans include incorporating an abstract gateway sculpture to represent the historic Boston neck that once ran through this area as the only route into the city. It will also include vegetation, plantings and Complete Street sidewalks in accordance to the City of Boston standards.

The current timeline for 112 Shawmut St. depends on how long the Article 80 process takes with the City of Boston. Once completed it will take between 16 and 18 months to construct.

The CCBA property at 50 Herald St. depends on whether or not they can end the lease with C-Mart that lasts until 2023. As soon as CCBA works to end the lease, they will begin their process.

Mary Chin from the Asian American Civic Association noted that it was nice to hear that the CCBA and the BCEC are working on providing more affordable housing in this community.

Chin said, “We are sourly aware we are in need of affordable housing and this will provide more opportunities to get affordable housing.”

The Impact Advisory Group (IAG) on the project has also been assembled and includes:  Stephen Fox (South End Forum); Deborah Backus (Castle Square); Jamie Curtis (New York Street NA); Kwok Fung Chan; Matt Rhoades; Michael Almond (Eight Streets NA); Bradley St. Amand (Old Dover NA); Andrew Malloy (Washington Gateway Main Street); Rebecca Roth Gullo (Restaurateur); Steven Chan; Arturo Gossage; Sherry Dong; and Felix Liu.

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