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A shopping center that features a movie theater. EDENS

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Dorchester development could add 400 apartments next to South Bay center

Also: Raffles Hotel; Suffolk University dorm; climate change; Hynes Convention Center; coworking; trends 2020

Critical Mass. is a weekly roundup of the most notable development news in the Boston area. This go-round includes the major development trends heading into 2020, Suffolk University’s downtown dorm, and the impending demise of yet another Boston parking lot.


Let’s kick things off with those development-related trends that will be all but inescapable in the Boston area in 2020. These include the continued rise of coworking (and the increasing presence of co-living) as well as more projects pivoting at least in part from residential to commercial. Also, expect a slew of larger developments to get crucial yays or nays.

Speaking of (relatively) large developments, a developer has proposed constructing a 400-unit, three-wing apartment complex on 4 acres next to the South Bay shopping center in Dorchester. That center (pictured at top) has undergone its own wave of development of late, adding 475 apartments plus other space.

Rendering of a terrace off a high floor of a swanky hotel tower. The Architectural Team/Rockwell Group/Binyan Studios

The developers behind the planned Raffles Hotel at 40 Trinity Place in Back Bay (rendered above) hosted an official groundbreaking for the project this week. They’ve been trying to build on the corner for years; and now expect to finish the 33-story hotel—which will include 147 hotel rooms and a further 146 Raffles-branded condos—in time for a 2022 opening.

The 114-room Ames Hotel at 1 Court Street in downtown Boston closed this week to make way for its conversion into a Suffolk University dormitory. The school’s acquisition of the property for $63.5 million—well over the $53 million its seller paid for it in 2015—speaks to how far some Boston’s universities and colleges will go to house their students. It also highlights the high cost of prime real estate in downtown Boston.

So many hotel news! An affiliate of developer Boylston Properties has filed initial plans with the Boston Planning and Development Agency to expand the Onyx Hotel in downtown Boston by more than 77 rooms as well as ground-level retail and restaurant space. The expansion would replace a 5,499-square-foot surface parking lot at 155 Portland Street. It’s the latest in a recent string of proposals to replace a Boston parking lot with development.

Finally, the Boston region is now the fourth largest coworking market in the United States, with 3.7 million commercial square feet turned over to flex space, according to a report. That places the metro ahead of every market except Manhattan (with 15 million square feet), Los Angeles (5.4 million), and Chicago (3.8 million). Plus, come what may with coworking colossus WeWork or with the economy at large, the growth shows no signs of abating.

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