Boston’s downtown workplace to residential conversion program will get $15M state increase

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A Metropolis of Boston program that goals to incentivize the conversion of unused workplace house within the downtown into new housing models obtained a $15 million increase from the state, the mayor and governor introduced at a joint occasion Monday.

The Healey administration’s funding will fund as much as $215,000 per reasonably priced unit, with a cap of $4 million per venture, cash that the mayor says will enable for a year-and-half extension of the town’s Workplace to Residential Conversion Program. Meaning the applying deadline strikes from the top of this month, the place it was initially set, to the top of 2025.

In her remarks, delivered inside 95 Berkeley, a roughly 80,000 square-foot, six-story workplace constructing within the South Finish slated for 100 new housing models, Mayor Michelle Wu spoke about how the pilot program launched final fall builds on her administration’s focus of creating Boston a “home for everyone.”

“In order for our residents to be able to enjoy all the benefits our city has to offer,” Wu mentioned, “we must address our housing crisis in Boston, and across the region and commonwealth. We need more homes in more neighborhoods at prices people can afford.”

The mayor spoke of how the town program has generated extra curiosity than anticipated from native builders, whereas Gov. Maura Healey talked about that the idea is drawing curiosity from cities throughout the nation, citing the “advent of work from home and hybrid work situations.”

For the reason that program’s launch, the town has obtained 9 purposes that will create 412 housing models throughout 13 buildings and convert 403,000 sq. ft of workplace house to residential house, which the mayor’s workplace mentioned exceeds metropolis objectives.

Two of these purposes have been accredited by the Boston Planning and Growth Company board, and development will start later this summer season.

The mayor mentioned the $15 million state funding will “go towards lowering upfront costs” and bringing extra office-to-housing conversion tasks on-line, a quantity that her administration expects will vary from 300 to 500 extra models.

Builders obtain a cost in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, incentive for participation in this system, representing a 75% discount in property tax payments for as much as 29 years — which the mayor’s workplace mentioned is aimed toward each rising the town’s downtown housing inventory, and responding to post-pandemic financial challenges of vacant workplace house by bringing extra folks with spending energy to the world, an idea it dubbed “downtown activation.”

Maybe responding to criticism her administration has confronted round a notion that it isn’t business-friendly — which ramped up with a plan to extend industrial tax charges that’s pending on Beacon Hill — Wu corralled her housing and planning chiefs, Sheila Dillon and Arthur Jemison, after the day’s press convention, to make clear that the office-to-conversion program won’t lead to a lack of the town’s industrial character.

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