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Developer eyes $40m mixed-use project for MBTA property in Forest Hills

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  January 4, 2013 04:47 PM

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(Urbanica Inc.)

An early rendering of the development proposal.

A developer plans to buy MBTA-owned property in the Forest Hills section of Jamaica Plain to build an estimated $40 million mixed-use project.

The development would be about 130,000 square feet consisting of about 120 housing units, 10,000 square feet of retail space, and about 120 parking spaces, according to Kamran Zahedi, president of Urbanica, the development company.

The Boston-based firm submitted a $1,050,000 bid to buy the 2.8-acre site along Hyde Park Avenue called “Parcel U,” which the MBTA has been trying to sell for the past several years, according to T spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

Zahedi said by phone Friday he is hopeful construction would begin in the summer of 2014. He said the project would take about three years to complete and would likely be built in phases.

He said his company plans to start design on the project within the next month and begin the process to seek city approval within the next six months.

The T’s developer designation conditions allow Urbanica up to 18 months to secure city permits and zoning approval.

Zahedi said his company plans to market the housing to people from a mix of income levels. The project will include some units designated as affordable housing, he said.

He estimated about 64 of the units would be marketed as for-sale and would be situated across a series of townhouse buildings. The other 56 units would likely be housed in one building and rented.

But, he said the breakdown of how the units will be sold and at what price is likely to depend on potential changes dictated by the housing market and the city approval process.

The project will be designed to reach high standards for energy-efficiency, Zahedi said.

Urbanica’s plans for Parcel U were first reported on by the Jamaica Plain Gazette.

A community planning initiative completed in fall 2008 suggested Parcel U should contain 120 housing units, 5,000 square feet of retail, 30,000 square feet of open space, 4,000 square community space and about 120 residential parking spots along with bicycle parking.

Parcel U, located near where JP and Roslindale meet, was first put up for sale by the MBTA in a public bid process in fall 2008. The public transit agency then asked for a minimum bid of $1.6 million.

The MBTA reoffered the property in several rounds of bidding with lower minimum prices. But no bids were received until the latest round in which Urbanica was chosen as the developer.

Two other sites, “Parcel V” and “Parcel W” were bought in a package deal from the MBTA and are under development.

The MBTA has tried to lease a fourth site in that area, a 3.16-acre parking lot called “Parcel S.” But no bids were received in an initial round and the agency has no current plans to reoffer the parcel, Pesaturo said this week.

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(Boston Redevelopment Authority)

A map of the area shows the various parcels around Forest Hills Station.

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