Five local stories to watch for in 2020

Cranes on the near horizon – 2020 will be the year of pile drivers and cranes as major projects— long in the planning stages— finally go into construction mode. Leading the pack will be Dot Block, the massive apartment and retail complex planned for Glover’s Corner. The site is now cleared and ready for work and the development team tells the Reporter that actual building work should commence early in the new year. It will result in a $200 million, 488-unit campus on what was once a maze of warehouses that walled off a long stretch of Dot Ave.

DotBlock is a giant piece of the development puzzle, but it won’t be the only big-ticket item in play in the new year. We’ll be watching for more concrete plans to emerge for the tallest-ever residential towers in Dorchester (on Morrissey Blvd.); a potential breakthrough to build housing and a new marina in Port Norfolk; and a resolution of long-delayed apartments plans in Lower Mills.

What does the future hold for Bayside? – The team of developers that has bought the rights to build out the old Bayside Expo site in Columbia Point is expected to unveil the firm’s initial vision for the 20-acre property in early 2020. The plan will then go through a community review process, in concert with City Hall, that is likely to result in some changes. Look for a fully baked project proposal to be in the pipeline by the end of the year, with actual construction unlikely until the following year.

New leadership for UMass Boston? – The new year could bring a permanent leader for the UMass Boston campus, if a search committee succeeds in its mission — now under way. (Full disclosure: the Hon. Linda Dorcena Forry, my wife, sits on that committee.) It’s not yet clear if the current UMass interim chancellor, Dr. Katherine Newman, will be a contender. The decision, which will ultimately be made by UMass president Martin Meehan, could be in place by summer.

Electoral machinations – It’s a presidential election year and that will clearly dominate the national discussion. In March, Massachusetts voters will get our chance to help pick a challenger to the current president, who is almost a lock to be the GOP choice, unless he gets bounced through impeachment— an improbability at this stage.

But there’s also plenty to watch for on the hyper-local front. Our Congressional delegation may see challengers. Sen. Ed Markey is facing a contest from within his own delegation from US Rep. Joe Kennedy. And there will likely be a robust campaign for State House seats locally. Rep. Dan Cullinane (12th Suffolk) will likely face two challengers, for example. But even with all this activity, it will also be a pivotal set-up year for what could be a competitive mayoral election in 2021.

Red Line Revolution? – The spring will see the introduction of the first new train cars to enter service on the Red Line in decades. Coupled with repairs made to signals and other infrastructure, T officials say that 2020 will be a “big year for the T.” The new trains, in particular, will offer wider doors and more room for passengers. Once all the new trains are on track by 2023, T officials say, passengers on the Ashmont and Braintree branches can expect six-minute wait times between trains during rush hour.

– Bill Forry

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