Proposed Article 64 Zoning Amendments Discussed at Public Hearing for BPDA

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held a public meeting on May 11 regarding the proposed amendments to Article 64 Section 29 of the Boston Zoning Code as it relates to the South End Neighborhood District.

According to the BPDA, “this zoning amendment proposes new language related to affordable commercial and cultural spaces in the Harrison-Albany area of the South End Neighborhood.”

At the meeting, BPDA South End Neighborhood Planner Jared Staley briefly went over the proposal, saying that the “focus” of the meeting was “really about the cultural space” in the neighborhood.

He also spoke about the existing Sections 29 and 41 of Article 64 of the Boston Zoning Code, which was updated in 2012 to include the Harrison-Albany Corridor Strategic Plan.

Right now according to Section 29, “the Proponent of any Proposed Project within a Planned Development Area (PDA) devoting any amount of Gross Floor Area to Non-Residential Uses must construct or cause the construction of either:

5% of bonus square footage for a cultural entity or start-up business whose eligibility for the program is to be determined by the BPDA, or

A combination of 2.5% of bonus square footage for a cultural entity or start-up business and an equivalent additional contribution to the Harrison/Albany Corridor Business and Cultural Loan Fund administered by the Boston Local Development Corporation (BLDC),” according to a slide presented.

Section 41 “describes the eligibility requirements for affordable cultural space as: a 501c3 organization that has received funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council within five years prior to occupancy, or whose cultural use has been determined by the Authority to meet the City’s goals for creative economy,” according to a slide.

The goal of this amendment is to make affordable cultural space available to more people and organizations, Staley said.

The BPDA said that the five percent bonus square footage currently required frequently results in space that is too large for smaller groups; “the Boston Local Development Corporation (BLDC) is not legally permitted to manage funds related to cultural entities;” and the funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council is a “high threshold for many cultural organizations that the zoning code originally aimed to support,” a slide read.

The proposed amendments would pass the responsibility of managing funds for affordable cultural spaces to the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, and the eligibility requirement would shift to 501c3 organizations that were recipients of funds from the Boston Cultural Council within five years before occupying a space, the BPDA said.

Public comment on these proposed amendments is encouraged and welcome by the BPDA, and can be submitted on the BPDA project page at bostonplans.org/planning/planning-initiatives/article-64-zoning-amendment. More information about the amendment can also be viewed there. The comment period ends on June 8 at 5:00pm.

Any questions can be directed to Jared Staley at [email protected]

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