(Image courtesy BRA)
With the stroke of a pen, Mayor Thomas Menino and the city officially adopted new zoning for the South End this week.
More than two-and-a-half-years in the making, the Harrison-Albany Corridor zoning text and map amendments will work to better guide development in the neighborhood.
The corridor, which is bordered roughly by the Massachusetts Turnpike to the north, Albany Street/Southeast Expressway/Massachusetts Avenue Connector to the east; Massachusetts Avenue to the south; and Washington Street/Harrison Avenue to the west, was broken up into four sub districts: EDA North, EDA Central, EDA South and Bio Square EDA.
The new zoning, approved in December by the Boston Redevelopment Authority Board and approved by the city’s Zoning Commission Tuesday, is meant to better utilize space in the corridor and spur development.
For example, the zoning changes will increase the allowable heights of buildings in the neighborhood. In EDA North, which encompasses Shawmut Avenue, Herald Street, Albany Street and East Berkley Street, building heights that border the Southeast Expressway are allowed up to 200 feet.
The new zoning also created incentives for what are known as Planned Areas of Development, which is any development that is over an acre.
If the PDA is 100% residential space, than the new amendments require the developer include 20% affordable housing.
If the building is commercial, then developers are required to offer cultural space or commercial options for small community based businesses.
During the community process, the BRA also evaluated ways to change uses for property that are considered "allowed" by the city, "forbidden" or allowed under certain conditions.
In EDA South which roughly encompasses Harrison Avenue, Malden Street, East Canton Street and Frontage Road, bars were previously forbidden. Now, they could be allowed under certain conditions.
In EDA North, elderly housing, which was already allowed under conditions, now moves to a looser requirement and is considered "allowed" under city rules. In EDA Central, which encompasses East Berkley Street, Harrison Avenue, Malden Street and Albany Street, a fitness center under 2,000-square-feet was allowed under certain conditions. It now moves to "allowed,'' a looser standard.
The Mayor and the BRA hope the new zoning will increase activity in the area of the neighborhood and bring new residents and industries to the city.
For more information on the project and the process visit the BRA’s project page.
To see the full text and map amendments to the zoning code click here.