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Over two-hundred residential units proposed for vacant Morrissey Boulevard parcel

Posted by Patrick Rosso  December 11, 2012 01:39 PM

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(Image courtesy Icon Architecture)

A rendering of the two buildings proposed for 25 Morrissey Blvd.

A proposal to add hundreds of new residential rental units to a vacant parcel next to the JFK/UMass MBTA station was greeted with support by a number of Dorchester residents at a recent community meeting on the development.

The proposal by Boston-based real estate and development firm Synergy Investments would bring a $60-million, 278-unit project to the 92,984-square-foot lot at 25 Morrissey Blvd., which sits in-between the T station and Shaw’s Supermarket.

“We think this [project] provides some really good, badly needed housing,” David Greaney, founder and president of Synergy, which also owns the properties at 35, 45, and 55 Morrissey Blvd., told a crowd of close to 45 area residents Monday night.

The proposed project would construct two five-story, 70-foot tall residential buildings at the property the company bought in 2007, along with the other parcels. The majority of the units would be studios and one-bedrooms, with 31 two- and eight three-bedroom units mixed in. The project would be located several hundred yards down Morrissey Boulevard from the Boston Globe.


The units would be split between an “East” and “West” building, with the “East” building, located along the access road that runs parallel to Morrissey Boulevard, housing 178 of the units. The "West" building would house 100 of the units, with the rear of it facing the T tracks and I-93.

Parking for a combined 143 cars would be provided behind the “West” building and under the “East” building.

With what he described as an “aggressive” timetable, Greaney said he’d like to break ground in 2013 and finish the project by September 2014.

Greaney estimated the project would generate 180 temporary construction jobs and four permanent jobs. He also said he's "committed" to hiring area workers.

Many of the residents and elected officials who attended Monday’s Boston Redevelopment Authority sponsored meeting expressed excitement for the project.

“This has been a long time coming to the neighborhood,” said Representative Marty Walsh, a Dorchester native. “I like what I see.”

“I like this project,” said Bill Walczak, an area resident and vice president of community relations for Shawmut Design and Construction. “I think it could be the spark that gets the rest of development [in the area] going.”

But while many were excited to see work start at a parcel that has long sat vacant, some expressed concerns about how the project would fulfill the vision of the Columbia Point Master Plan, developed to help guide denser, transit-oriented construction in the area.

“I think it kills the Master Plan,” said Don Walsh, who chaired the task force that helped develop the plan. “It’s not consistent with the spirit of the Master Plan.”

Walsh said the buildings should go higher, even up to 16-stories, allowed by the plan, which brought groans from a number of those in attendance.

“It [the Master Plan] was an idea session that resulted in a number of good ideas, some of which we embraced,” Greaney said, highlight his plan to construct the first section of the Master Plan’s “Main Street”. “It’s not economically viable to build a 15-story tower.”

Others also questioned why space was not dedicated to retail, with many saying it would help create the “neighborhood feel” that the Master Plan proposed.

“I think not having retail is a missed opportunity,” said Lucas Herringshaw, an area resident. “I think the neighborhood would rather have an open storefront for a year or two than no retail."

“I’m excited for the project,” said Dorchester City Councilor Frank Baker. “It’s not everything we’re looking for in the Master Plan, but you shoot high and aim for something in the middle.”

Many voiced support for storefronts along the building, but Greaney said store-owners he talked to said no.

“The feedback we got was that they [retailers] felt the neighborhood hadn’t been developed enough to justify retail,” Greaney said. “The last thing you want is an empty storefront.”

Greaney added that down the line some of the ground-floor space could be refashioned to support commercial uses.

Overall the project and the units are aimed to serve “young families” and those “just starting their careers,” according to Greaney, who estimated a studio would cost somewhere between $1,200 and $1,300 a month.

The buildings would also be constructed so that they could be LEED certified and 36 of the project’s dwellings would be deemed “affordable,” according to the Project Notification Form filed with the BRA.

The project also has open space accommodations for residents, including the planting of new trees, the development of a 9,000-square-foot courtyard in the center of the development, and 278 bicycle storage spaces, according to Nancy Ludwig, principal at Icon Architecture.

Currently the project is in its Public Comment Period.

The public will have a chance to comment until Dec. 28.

Comments can be submitted by e-mail, by fax (617) 742-7783, or by conventional mail:

ATTN: John Fitzgerald, Boston Redevelopment Authority
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201

For a copy of the Project Notification Form, provided by the BRA, click here.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.


(Image courtesy Icon Architecture)

A view of the "East" building from Morrissey Boulevard looking southwest.


(Image courtesy Icon Architecture)

The "West" and "East" buildings with Morrissey Boulevard to the right and I-93 on the left.


(Image courtesy BRA)

The location of the project site.

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