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Co-living project in Allston advances

Common Allbright on Lincoln Street would add 278 bedrooms to a slowly growing city trend

A rendering of a six-story rectangular building. Rendering via Boylston Properties and Are Urban

A project in Allston is looking to join the fledgling co-living trend in the Boston area.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency in late January signed off on the construction of a 278-bedroom, 80-unit co-living project at 525 Lincoln Street. Dubbed Common Allbright, the project from Arx Urban and Boylston Properties would replace yet another surface parking lot in Boston with a six-story building.

Common—a five-year-old national co-living company with buildings in New York, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, and Washington—will operate Common Allbright.

It’s supposed to be a kind of all-in-one apartment experience where everything’s on one rent bill, including utilities and wi-fi as well as cleaning services and supplies such as toilet paper, and every related action, including paying said rent and contacting Common staff, can be done through in-house technology.

Common Allbright’s spreads will range from studios to three- and four-bedroom suites, and will come fully furnished with in-unit laundry. The kitchens and lounges will be shared spaces; and there will be a car-sharing service at the building (as well as parking for around 30 autos). The project is due to include a 1,250-square-foot community space as well.

Some 47 of its 278 bedrooms, too, will be restricted to tenants earning under $40,000 a year. And there are no broker fees, though no short-term leases either—the minimum will be 12 months. Common Allbright is slated to open in summer 2022, pending zoning approval.

It would join at least one other co-living project in Boston proper, 7INK at the South End’s sprawling Ink Block project. That under-construction building—thought to be Boston’s first co-living project ever—is due to have 180 studios and suites with 353 beds and to open in 2021. New York co-living outfit Ollie will run 7INK.

The thinking behind co-living is simple and direct. Developers and operators seek to capitalize on markets where the housing supply is tight and pricey. They’ll offer not only the essentials in living space but those amenities and services—all on one rent bill that’s often less than those for similar-sized studios in a given city (studios, mind you, without the baked-in amenities and services).

In a July 2019 filing with the city, the team behind Common Allbright included a chart showing a market-rate co-living unit as renting for $1,500 a month and an income-restricted one going for $844. The chart showed a Boston studio on Craigslist going for $1,600 and a traditional studio in the city asking $2,775—a not unheard-of sum for Boston studios.

“Boston is grappling with many housing issues and affordability is top of mind for residents in communities and neighborhoods like Allston,” Andrew Copelotti, principal at Boylston Properties, said in a statement. “We are pleased that the City of Boston is acknowledging co-living as one of a few possible solutions to this challenge, and we are very excited to begin development with our expert partners, Arx Urban and Common.”

Finally, it should be noted that Common Allbright would be the latest in a string of sizable developments in Allston. Those projects include Harvard’s Enterprise Research Campus, the six-building Allston Square, and the four-building Allston Yards. Stay tuned.