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‘Last-minute looting spree’ called off

Boston condos

Boston condos

There we were, all excited to see what brazen, crony, insider development deals the BRA might approve just days before Marty Walsh became mayor.

But now the unusual BRA meeting set for next week has been called off. Bummer.

From the ever-blunt Herald:

An eleventh-hour BRA meeting that was squeezed in four days before Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh takes office has been scrapped, the agency said yesterday, foiling Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s plan to ram through several large development projects before he bails out of City Hall.

“It was just a last-minute looting spree because he’s out four days later. Who does something so brazen? I don’t see any reason for them to rush,” Shirley Kressel, a critic of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Give us micro-unit housing or give us death!

Boston condos

Boston condos

Small Boston Condos

There’s a trend in Boston and elsewhere of building smaller housing units (and we’re talking real small, as in 300 square feet) as a way to make more affordable housing available to young workers.

Today, the Boston Globe has an editorial calling on the Menino Administration to loosen up when it comes to approving these new so-called “micro-unit” housing concepts.

The Globe makes some good points, especially with how the market seems to be calling for more of these units. But the BRA isn’t exactly in the complete wrong here, believing, apparently, that what’s popular today could become real pains in the future, i.e. slum-lord like housing conditions.

Here’s a compromise: Approve more for the Innovation District. That place is hot right now, and people have a lot of money invested there these days. They’re simply not going to let the units fail and fall into disrepair, becoming eyesores and harming the value of their investments etc. Other areas of the cities should experiment with them too.

Then make sure they’re all regulated well.

It’s a promising concept that deserves a little caution, but not nearly as much caution as the BRA might think.

The above rendition is via preliminary designs by Boston’s ADD Inc.

Lovejoy Wharf now gets a little tax-break love

Luxury condominiums

Luxury condominiums

The developers of Lovejoy Wharf are getting some city tax breaks to help them proceed with the $230 million project, which includes Converse eventually moving hundreds of employees into the future renovated building.

And, boy, does the building need renovation. The tax breaks are expected to offset some of the costs of rebuilding and extending old wharfs for future public use.

Once completed, Lovejoy will include offices, retail, and about 100 residences, all conveniently near TD Garden, North Station, the North End, Faneuil Hall and Charlestown.

File under: Elbow grease

Boston 2013: It’s going to be an awesome development year

Boston condos

Boston condos

Here’s an excellent overview piece that tracks the 12 largest private developments now under way in Boston as we enter 2013.

The numbers are almost staggering: $2.7 billion in construction at 12 locations with the final goal of producing about 2,157 housing units, not to mention all the extra retail, office and lab space included within the totals.

Of the 12 biggest projects, eight of them are either primarily apartment or condo developments. Among others, they include Millennium Place ($220 million – 256 units); 100 Pier 4 ($195 million – 369 units); the Kensington ($188 million- 381 units); 120 Kingston ($127 million – 240 units).

The Victor ($92 million – 286 units) is the furthest along in construction and is already touting its opening later this year along the Greenway.

Remember: These numbers comprise only the top 12 development projects. Dozens of other developments have also begun construction, or have been approved by the BRA, or are currently in the review pipeline. It’s incredible.

File under: Happy New Year, Boston!

Construction starts today on Greenway apartment tower

From the Herald: “A development team and city officials today will kick off construction of a 26-story tower with 240 units at 120 Kingston St., site of the Dainty Dot building at the intersection of Chinatown and the Financial and Leather districts.”

It looks pretty sharp, and they’re promising an impressive outdoor restaurant scene.

The tower was designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, which is leaving its design mark all across the city these days.

Google funds apartment development in Allston

You read that right: Google is helping to fund an affordable housing project in Allston.

At first, we thought there must be some sort of cyber catch — like, perhaps, how Google had discovered a rich vein of rare-earth materials underneath the surface of Allston or how it was building as vast underground communications center in exchange for rebuilding the Charlesview apartments.

Nope, it’s a straightforward real-estate deal. Google is taking advantage of a federal tax-credit program.

These are strange times in our country’s economic history.

Apartment-retail complex set for North Station area

A Denver company plans to break ground on an 11-story apartment and retail complex right across the street from TD Garden in Boston

The development, called The Victor, will include 286 apartment units, high-end restaurants and parking spaces in the Bulfinch Triangle area.

Though it’s far from being boom time, there are a number of construction projects finally getting off the ground in Boston — and more are in the pipeline. This is all good news. Now let’s all cross our fingers that it lasts.

What’s your view of views? Depends on your view

Here’s a depressing story on how difficult it is to get developments through Boston’s (and the state’s) tortuous zoning, legal and building-permit stages.

It’s technically a classic NIMBY tale, but recent court decisions now make a proposed South Boston housing/art studio project a possible test case on whether building opponents can sue, at any time, to stop developments if projects wreck their views in any way. They’re now called “view-based” legal arguments.

Well, our view is that nothing will ever get built if projects can be nixed exclusively on “view-based” grounds.

But what’s your view of views and view-based arguments?