BPDA Board approves Parcel 25 Phase 3 NPC

By Michael Coughlin Jr. 

During a meeting last month, the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s (BPDA) Board approved the Notice of Project Change (NPC) for Phase 3 of the Parcel 25 project proposed by Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services, bringing a plethora of 100% affordable housing units to the neighborhood. 

Ebony DaRosa, a Senior Project Manager in the Development Review Department at the BPDA, explained that the Parcel 25 Phase 3 NPC will bring a six-story building with 94 affordable rental units and 33 parking spots to Mission Hill. 

The NPC brings about a stark change to the proposal, as the plan for Phase 3 was initially for a 160-foot-tall commercial and office building with 185 below-grade parking spots. 

Back in October, during a BPDA-hosted public meeting concerning the NPC, Nicholas Zozula, Senior Associate at McDermott, Quilty & Miller LLP, the project’s Permitting Attorney, cited factors such as construction costs, low demand for office space and the need for housing as reasons for the change of plans. 

Moreover, during December’s Board meeting, Zozula walked through a chart comparing the previously approved project to the NPC, which detailed how the new plans will result in a building four stories shorter and around a 26% decrease in gross square footage. 

Additionally, of the 94 units, there are plans for 24 one-bedrooms, 55 two-bedrooms, and 15 three-bedrooms, all of which will be affordable and offered at different ranges of area median income. 

“Obviously, in recent years, commercial office space has been less necessary and less sought after, so changing to a residential use in the midst of a housing crunch — specifically all-affordable housing — just seemed to make a lot of sense,” said Zozula. 

Following some words from Zozula, Nick Buehrens, an Associate Principal at Utile, the project’s architect, took over the presentation and reviewed some more aspects of the plan. 

Buehrens first spoke about the importance of landscape in “stitching together” the previous phases of the project with Phase 3. 

“We designed these spaces in coordination with our landscape architects to create clear, safe, and accessible pathways for people to circulate through the site while also providing a variety of places for informal gathering and more structured community events within the site itself,” said Buehrens. 

He also went through some floor plans and discussed the inclusion of a community room on the ground floor and bike parking spaces. Further, Buehrens showed some project renderings and how the building would look from different areas near the site. 

Following the presentation, the floor was opened up for the public to provide testimony, and there was a significant amount of support for the project. 

A student from Northeastern University said, “Mission Hill is a beautifully diverse community that is at risk of losing its cultural ties and community members if more affordable housing does not become available.”

“Mission Hill needs more projects like Parcel 25 coming from a responsible and community-responsive organization such as Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services. There are many students who feel that way and support this project as well,” they added. 

A more than 15-year resident of Mission Hill also voiced their support, saying, “I fully support this affordable housing project in Mission Hill.” 

“It is one of the few development projects that is before the BPDA in the past 10 years that is solely affordable, does not contain studio units but rather contains units that are designed for families and not for transient-oriented populations,” they added. 

While others made their voices heard during the meeting, indicating support, it should be noted that the project has also garnered support from neighborhood organizations such as the Community Alliance of Mission Hill (CAMH). 

Back in November, CAMH voted to support the project by a vote of 22 to 1, with another voter abstaining.

Members of the BPDA Board also had some kind words for the project. “I pass this site every day, and I’m very grateful to the proponents for providing opportunities for people of limited economic means to continue to stay in the area,” said Ted Landsmark. 

The Board’s Chair, Priscilla Rojas, called the project “amazing” and said, “It’s exactly what we need, and I’m just very thankful for you just building this housing and having community space.” 

Ultimately, the Board unanimously approved the NPC for Phase 3 of Parcel 25. To learn more about the project, you can visit https://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/parcel-25.

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