Over the past decade or so, South Boston has rather quickly transformed from a dichotomous residential and industrial section of Boston into a dynamic neighborhood with scores of ground up developments and mixed-use activity. Excluding the Seaport (formerly, South Boston Waterfront), the BPDA has accounted for at least 35 completed developments in South Boston since 2009. Many of these finished projects have been on West Broadway and First Street, while others are scattered throughout the neighborhood. As of the fall of 2019, there are at least 38 additional projects that are either under review, under construction, permitted, board approved, or have submitted an LOI with the BPDA. This break-neck scale of development has been equally impressive and scary for long time residents who may not readily embrace the change.
Among the various development corridors spread throughout the neighborhood, Dorchester Avenue promises to be an area that’s worth paying particularly close attention to. Although there are only four developments on Dorchester Ave that are currently in the BPDA’s pipeline, this streetscape is likely to change drastically within the next decade plus.
Launched in 2015, the South Boston Dorchester Avenue Planning Initiative will oversee the redevelopment of this transit centric land by 2030. The result of this will be an entirely different landscape between the Broadway and Andrew train stations. These plans do not account for land that spills outside of the boundaries shown in figure 3, however the majority of the plans in the initiative will fall within this territory.
From the end of West Fourth Street to the Andrew MBTA station, Dorchester Ave is packed with industrial lots, storage facilities and a variety of other non-residential occupants. National Development, one of New England’s largest developers out of Newton, has acquired 285, 345 and 363-365 Dorchester Ave, with plans to redevelop over 10 acres of land into a massive mixed-use site. Core Investments is another large owner in this strip, accounting for 656,449 SF of land from 371-511 Dorchester Ave. Although successfully delivering a large scale development is contingent on many factors, the projects that fall within this strip may have relative ease considering the fact that they’re being promoted by Mayor Walsh through the South Boston plan. This is not to say that the process will be seamless, however, an endorsement from the city’s top politician has traditionally counted for a lot.
Much like any development zone, the evolution of “Dot Ave” will take time. There’s little dispute, though, that it’s a matter of “when” not “if” this sliver of the South Boston map will repurpose a substantial section of one of Boston’s larger neighborhoods.