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City Point Center Keeps Things Civil with Lower Mills Civic Development

City Point Center Keeps Things Civil with Lower Mills Civic Development

Continuing with the recent residential and commercial real estate development trend in Boston, developer City Point Center, LLC is proposing to build a mixed-use structure with residential units and retail space in Lower Mills, Boston. The structure is expected to occupy six parcels of land on Washington Street, ranging from properties 1120 to 1132. The project will involve redeveloping several existing structures that have fallen out of use, including the Molloy funeral house on Washington Street. City Point Center envisions the building rising four stories when finished. It will cover approximately 48,303 SF. Its first two levels will be dedicated to retail space, while the remaining floors will have a total of 57 residential units. It remains to be seen whether the developer will turn those housing units into apartments or condominiums, but the scale tips in favor of condominiums. Currently, the project site contains three multi-family houses and a vacant lot. The developer wants to replace the residential living space currently available and bring new life to the area for commerce and business.

Slowly but surely, the project is moving ahead. The developer recently secured support from the Lower Mills Civic Association to start erecting the building. The Association voted in favor of the project in a 12 to 9 decision. They made the decision after a series of meetings and about two years' worth of discussion for the plan with community members and neighbors. Over that period of time, the developer significantly scaled back plans for its project. Initially, City Point's bid included developing a mixed-use complex that would be six stories tall. It would have included 68 residential units and four spaces for retailers, but the developer had to scale back the project following negative feedback from neighbors.

As with other neighborhoods around Boston, Lower Mills is working to balance supporting the sometimes conflicting needs of housing and economic growth with retaining its historical character. This neighborhood, also called the Dorchester-Milton Lower Mills Industrial District, is in the Dorchester area of Boston. The area was once home to a large industrial factory complex. Its most prominent tenant was Walter Baker & Co., which was the original large-scale chocolate producer in the United States. The buildings in Lower Mills were built between 1868 and 1947. Many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Lower Mills complex that City Point proposes would include some new construction, but it would mostly repurpose existing space. In Lower Mills, like other parts of Boston, citizens fear that new, large-scale development projects are changing the city's skyline, which historically consisted of lower-level buildings. They are also concerned that tall buildings will cast shadows on neighboring buildings, and inevitably block out natural sunlight.

While developers and residents have clashed elsewhere in Boston, the developer for the Lower Mills complex worked with residents, adjusting its plans according to their feedback. The latest plan calls for 39 two-bedroom condominium units, 12 one-bedroom condominium units, and six three-bedroom condominium units. Square footage is expected to range from 500 SF to 1,100 SF across units of all sizes. At least seven of those units are expected to be designated as affordable income units. Pricing will average about $400,000 per condominium unit. Additionally, the redesigned project will contain approximately 3,600 SF for commercial activities. It will have indoor bicycle storage and over 90 parking spaces, with 86 spots reserved for residents, and the remaining reserved for the resident businesses. Outside, the complex will have a playground. It will have a total area of 12,000 SF of open space, which exceeds the city's requirement of at least 2,800 SF of open space. It will also have a rooftop deck. The developer is highlighting the project's proximity to major transportation centers, primarily the Red Line's Milton stop on the T, which is just a 10 minute walk from the complex. This will be especially important in demonstrating that the project will not cause additional traffic congestion in an already crowded part of the city. The developer is already meeting city standards with other aspects of the project, including parking ratio and setbacks in addition to open space.