Dot Ave: South Boston’s Next Downtown?

conceptual future land use

A mile-long corridor lined with building suppliers, mechanical contractors and self-storage facilities in South Boston could give way to residential towers and mixed-use developments rising up to 30 stories under a city draft plan.

The South Boston Dorchester Avenue plan sees potential for up to 16 million square feet of new development on 144 acres of predominantly industrial parcels over the next two decades. The product of a 10-month study and community review, the plan will go to the Boston Redevelopment Authority board of directors for approval this summer.

Developers could get density bonuses for taller buildings in exchange for providing middle-class housing and other benefits, such as open space in a neighborhood with no public parks. There’s also potential for up to 7 million square feet of commercial and industrial space, including green labs and makerspaces in podiums beneath residential towers next to the MBTA tracks.

The study anticipates that the forces of gentrification that have swept through other sections of South Boston and the South End will transform the corridor, which is bookended by the Broadway and Andrew T stations.

The neighborhood has just 1,200 housing units, but one developer already has proposed a 656-unit multifamily complex on a 5-acre site at the corner of Old Colony Avenue. That project, known as Washington Village, is being fine-tuned in response to community demand for more middle-class housing, BRA spokesman Nicholas Martin said. Another developer is listing two-bedroom condominium units for $965,000 at 488 Dot., a 33-unit development scheduled to open later this year.

“I see that area as being the next frontier,” said Ted Tye, managing partner with Newton-based National Development. “What we’ve seen in Boston fairly recently is the really rapid transformation of neighborhoods in timeframes we’ve never seen before in the history of the city. They’re developing in three to five years, not 30 years or 50 years.”

There’s even a few small office buildings that are attracting a look from tech companies priced out of downtown Boston, said Justin Dziama, a vice president at Avison Young.

“This is obviously closer to Boston. It can create its own little ecosystem,” he said. “The question is how to do it the right way.”

Walkable streets, middle-class housing and quality open spaces landed high on the wish lists mentioned by residents during a series of community meetings hosted by the BRA beginning in July 2015.

To accommodate an increase in residential zoning, a community consensus favored zoning for the tallest mixed-use buildings near the two subway stations.

The BRA board of directors is expected to vote on the plan framework in early summer, and work on the zoning details would follow.

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Dot Ave: South Boston’s Next Downtown?

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min