Weekly Wonder: Dozens of new buildings to begin construction across Boston this year

A mock-up for a building permitted to begin construction this year on city-owned property in Dorchester. Photo from the Boston Planning & Development Agency

By Stella Lorence
Boston University New Service

BOSTON — From the southernmost section of Hyde Park to the northside of East Boston, permits for nearly 40 new buildings have been awarded by the city this year already, according to city-data.

Of those 37 projects, roughly three quarters will have some kind of residential element.

Boston, like other major U.S. cities, has already faced housing shortages and rising prices for years. The pandemic has since made waves in the market, as people have sought bigger houses to spend more time in while landlords struggle with rent eviction moratoriums.

Overall, the city has approved over 9,000 permits this year, wracking up almost $42 million in application fees.

The number of permits approved in the last three months is a 15 percent decrease from the same period last year. October 2020 saw the most approvals with over 4,000, while April saw the least, at over 900.

The neighborhood with the most approvals is Dorchester Center. West Roxbury saw approvals for the most new construction permits.

The new buildings approved this year have a total declared value of over $120 million.

The project with the highest declared valuation so far is a 330,000-square-foot building in Seaport, with 783 residential units, commercial and retail spaces and a parking garage. The project is valued at almost $500 million. Construction has already been completed.

Three permits have been filed where the city of Boston is listed as the owner. City-owned properties fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Neighborhood Development. While selling property to developers, the city considers whether the market and the community support development. 

Some of these projects are managed by the Department of Neighborhood Development. Others are managed by the Boston Planning & Development Agency, which is a “self-sustaining” planning and economic development agency for the city.

Active projects on land owned by the city are sorted into housing, open space (such as community gardens), commercial space and “to be determined” areas. Over 150 of these projects are currently active, according to the Department of Neighborhood Development “Building Housing Map.” 

The Boston Planning & Development Agency also maintains a map of development projects. One such project — a property in Dorchester owned by the city — is being turned into 41 affordable apartment units with ground-floor retail.

Of the permits granted last year, roughly three quarters remain “open,” meaning construction has not finished. Permits last for six months and may be extended for an additional 180 days.

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