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Here’s what you need to know about Boston-area development this week

This Critical Mass. includes Boston’s biggest carbon-neutral residential development, a battle between Boston College and Newton, and a potential second act for the Hynes Convention Center

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Critical Mass. is a weekly roundup of the most notable development news in the Boston area. This go-round includes major projects in Somerville, Roxbury, East Boston, Hyde Park, and Back Bay.


A 23-unit, four-story apartment complex at 273 Highland Street in Roxbury promises to be the largest energy-positive, carbon-neutral residential building in Boston, according to plans that the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) recently approved. How will it be carbon-neutral? With features such as triple-glazed windows, a rain-screen wall assembly, and solar panels on the roof.

Several buildings surrounding a courtyard, with a harbor behind them. Photos courtesy of Lendlease

It was a mere formality as the complex has been open for a while, but the developer behind East Boston’s Clippership Wharf complex at 63 Lewis Street hosted a ribbon-cutting for the 478-unit, four-building complex that was years in the making. It was built with rising sea levels in mind and features a system of flood barriers that can be deployed in 24 hours.

Now to the other side of Boston: The BPDA has signed off on the two-building, 247-unit apartment complex 36-40 Sprague Street in Hyde Park’s Readville area. The project was supposed to be a lot bigger: 521 units over four buildings, with a big steel-frame sign reading “Readville.” Not to be following local opposition.

Rendering of a nine-story office building along a low-rise street. Rendering via the BPDA

And on to Back Bay, where a developer has asked the city if it can resurrect a stalled project to replace the old Shreve, Crump & Low building at 350 Boylston Street in Back Bay, right near the Public Garden, with a glassy, nine-story commercial building. The Great Recession doomed an earlier plan.

The biggest news from outside of Boston proper this week came from Somerville. There, a developer announced the acquisition of the headquarters of moving company Gentle Giant at 29 Harding Street, with plans to incorporate it into a larger mixed-use development that would include multifamily housing as well as space for technology and life sciences firms.

And, speaking of beyond Boston proper, there is a major fight shaping up between the City of Newton and Boston College. The city wants to take 17 acres of BC-owned land in Chestnut Hill via eminent domain. The college is having none of it.

Finally, Governor Charlie Baker wants to sell the state-owned Hynes Convention Center in Back Bay to help pay for a major expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston (pictured at top). The move would also likely open up the Hynes’ 5.6-acre site to redevelopment. Baker’s plan, though, is far from fruition. Stay tuned.

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