Zoning Board okays plan for long-vacant Four Corners lot

The vacant lot on the corner of Washington and Bradlee Streets in Four Corners has sat dormant under the ownership of the City of Boston for more than a generation, but after getting approved for development by the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) on Aug. 31, it is just one of many plots of underutilized land that will soon be a new home to several residents.

Jessica Boatright, of the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), said the property at 405 Washington St. has been controlled by the city since 1988 due to a tax foreclosure.

“This one really is an important example of leveraging city-owned land as a way of wealth building opportunities for residents and partnering with the community to identify the best use for the property,” she said, “and just meeting the needs of the local neighbors.”

Attorney Joe Feaster represented the designated developer, Urbanica of Lower Roxbury, at the ZBA meeting. Urbanica won the designation over two other developers in a public process that started in 2019 and was only recently re-started after Covid-19 delays.

Feaster pointed to support from neighbors and City Councillors Andrea Campbell and Michael Flaherty. The project includes 13 units of home ownership opportunities, all of them affordable. Four of them are at 80 percent Area Mean Income (AMI), five are at 100 percent AMI, and four are at 120 percent AMI – largely representing what would be termed ‘workforce housing.’

They include studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units. There are nine parking spots provided on site. Two of the units on the top floor are deemed live/work space, which was a request of the community during neighborhood meetings.

The lot once housed a very extravagant home, which, according to the Atlas Scope tool from the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center, was built around 1894 and owned by Amelia Damon. However, the house burned down in the 1970s or 1980s and was a total loss – eventually moving the site to tax foreclosure.

“We used that old home as the inspiration to pay homage to the old building with the rooflines and architecture and, working with the community, tried to develop an architectural language which was…respectful of what was there previously,” said Architect Stephen Chung.

The transition for this vacant lot is just the most recent example of the city trying to leverage property it has owned for many years in order to construct affordable housing in Four Corners. John Feuerbach, DND’s senior development officer, said several more Four Corners properties like this are in the pipeline.

Vacant property at Four Corners is expected to be under construction before the winter as the long-awaited Four Corners Plaza, planned by Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (CSNDC). It will bring 31 units of rental housing and retail and community space to two long-vacant lots. All of the units at Four Corners Plaza will be affordable up to 60 percent of AMI.

Other projects in Four Corners on city-owned land include:

•Mt. Bowdoin/Mallon Neighborhood Homes, consisting of 13 new ownership units at the convergence of Rosseter, Mallon, Mt. Bowdoin Terrace, and Bowdoin Street.

•Hearth at 4 Corners, which includes 54 units of elderly rental housing, was recently completed on Ronald Street next to Washington Street on city-owned land.

•Norwell Townhouses, comprising eight new affordable units (four ownership and four rental) under construction now at 239-241 Norwell St.

•Angell Spencer Neighborhood Homes, consisting of 14 new homes (12 ownership and two rental) scheduled to proceed this fall on Angell, Spencer, Norwell, Helen, and Lorne Streets.

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