What to Know About the Latest Boston Developments

What to Know About the Latest Boston Developments

  • Danielle D’Ambrosio, Esq.
  • 11/10/22

It's always an exciting time when new real estate developments break ground in Boston, especially if you're in the market to buy luxury property. These days there are some amazing new projects underway, each with its own unique appeal. Here's a quick look at what's coming up and what you need to know about the latest Boston developments.

Multi-family zoning requirement for MBTA communities

The years-long effort to stimulate additional home developments in Boston's suburban areas made a big push recently. On August 10th, Governor Charlie Baker signed off on the state's guidelines for a new law that mandated the creation of residential zoning divisions in cities near transportation terminals. The bill set a certain threshold for the number of multi-family dwellings allowed in every given municipality and increased the possibility for construction by more than 280,000 dwellings.

The new law enables towns and cities to draw up the necessary zoning districts before developers begin working on new projects in a wide variety of suburbs that have been slow to embrace multi-family housing.

According to Bisnow's interviews with developers, the new bill makes it simpler for them to construct multi-family dwellings in these communities since they may pursue as-of-right projects permitted by the existing zoning and do not necessitate time-consuming procedures to rezone properties. However, many builders are holding off on expanding into new locations until cities and municipalities pass the zoning laws.

Major development companies are predicting rapid home construction in more suburban areas of Massachusetts that have not been at the center of planning committees once the surrounding municipalities embrace and implement the measure.

An estimated 175 municipalities in the Greater Boston region, including those with subway and commuter train stations and several neighboring cities, are included by the MBTA Communities legislation, which was approved last year.

Months were spent by the state creating the laws that set particular unit minimums for each neighborhood. The final draft will reduce certain criteria for smaller towns without rail stations. 
The final regulations cut the lowest amount of permissible units throughout all 175 zones by 18%, as reported by the Boston Globe.

According to the Globe, the state made the revisions after hearing from several areas concerned that development might overwhelm them. Initially, Nahant, a modest seaside town, would have been obliged to approve a baseline of 750 units, which could have increased the town's housing supply by 40%. However, the finished regulations cut the requirement to 84 units, a reduction of around 60%.

Despite decreases in certain areas, several municipalities in the greater Boston region would still be required to permit thousands of new dwelling units under the MBTA Communities law as is. The law requires that Cambridge may not permit less than 13,000 dwellings. Newton and Somerville must allow at least 8,000 units, while Malden, Brookline, Medford, Revere, and Lowell must have over 6,000.

The new law allows towns to plan how they are going to implement the new zoning to enable multi-family housing and meet housing needs in Boston.

The desire for new dwellings

New dwellings are urgently needed all over Boston in order to quell the housing crisis. Although multi-family buildings slowed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the market has since recovered. As of June 30th, 2022, more than 19,000 units were under construction in the Boston region, as reported by Colliers. The MBTA Communities law was highlighted in the study as a strategy to increase the supply of homes in the state's central and eastern regions.

By the end of 2023, localities needing rapid transit must-have new zoning districts in place under federal legislation. The communities must be established by the end of 2024 in cities with commuter railroads and neighboring areas.

Active Boston suburban multi-family developers believe it will take some time to see the effect. However, the results are expected to be significant once it comes to fruition. Builders go as far as to predict it will have an even greater impact than Plan 40B, which led to the construction of hundreds of thousands of residential properties.

The MBTA Communities bill facilitates construction in the suburbs by establishing additional as-of-right zoning districts. Essentially everything is negotiable in the special permit procedure. In contrast, an as-of-right procedure provides greater clarity to the developer about their options.

Builders predict the most activity will occur in gateway cities with traditionally industrial economies facing problems due to economic realignment as well as other commuter towns. They will likely remain inside Greater Boston's 495 Corridor because that is where most commuters live.

It's important to note that obtaining the necessary permits for multi-family buildings in suburban areas usually takes years. However, this law may change that, as it introduces some level of by-right zoning.

Greg Vasil, chief executive officer of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, has voiced his opinion that more has to be done to get some municipalities to follow the law. Municipalities that don't follow the new law won't be able to receive money from funds like the Housing Choice Initiative, the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, or the Local Capital Projects Fund.

Ultimately, it's up to the state of Boston to pressure these neighborhoods to increase the scope of housing. The state must also do its part to improve and preserve the MBTA facilities.

Ready to learn more?

Danielle D'Ambrosio of The D'Ambrosio Group is a real estate broker, real estate attorney, and licensed general contractor with over fifteen years of expertise in Boston Waterfront real estate. She has mastered the art of listening to her customers and representing their best interests throughout the entire real estate transaction. A Boston native, Danielle is proud of her ability to acquire off-market prospects and her extensive understanding of the market. Her business is established on integrity, tenacity, and the trust and connections she has cultivated with her customers. Danielle's dedication to honesty and her enthusiasm for the industry make her an ideal choice to represent buyers, sellers, tenants, and renovators of Boston real estate.

If you're interested in learning more about the latest Boston developments, contact Danielle today. She will be happy to assist you on your journey toward purchasing Boston real estate.

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