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New WBZ-TV studios could mean additional development in Allston

Other big development news this week surrounds the novel coronavirus’ effects on Boston-area real estate

Rendering of a long three-story, rectangular building. BPDA

Welcome back to Critical Mass., in which Curbed Boston covers all of the region’s major development news every week. This go-round includes how the novel coronavirus is affecting development, particularly in Boston and Cambridge, and the opening date for one of Boston’s most anticipated projects. — Tom Acitelli, Curbed Boston editor

First, that opening date. The initial phase of the 1.3 million-square-foot Fenway Center project where Beacon Street meets the Massachusetts Turnpike and Commonwealth Avenue is now expected to open during the summer rather than the spring. The phase will consist of 312 apartments in two residential buildings—one seven stories, the other 14—sharing the address of 771 Beacon Street.

Over to one of the Boston-area projects to watch in 2020. The developers behind plans to redevelop the WBZ-TV/CBS studio site at 1170-1200 Soldiers Field Road in Allston filed a more detailed proposal this week with Boston officials. The proposal calls for replacing the existing studio with a three-story, 63,000-square-foot facility with 140 parking spots and demolishing another building at the site—both to make room for more development. (The new studio building is rendered at the top.)

Now to how the novel coronavirus is affecting Boston-area development. In Boston proper, it’s brought construction to a halt for a time. Mayor Marty Walsh on March 17 gave contractors and developers a week to secure projects for a moratorium that could last at least two weeks. The move is designed to stem the spread of the virus.

Cambridge quickly took a similar step, though its moratorium on most construction is indefinite. Both cities are perhaps the largest in the entire U.S. to have taken such a move in the face of the novel coronavirus.

What’s more, the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the main stop for most proposed projects in the city, suspended indefinitely public meetings having to do with most types of proposed developments, effectively hitting pause on Boston’s historic building boom.

A construction worker working with a wood frame of a building several stories up. Boston Globe via Getty Images

At the same time, though, it was clear that developers were planning for the day when construction and public reviews would pick right back up. The entity behind Winthrop Center, the 691-foot skyscraper under construction in downtown Boston, vowed to finish that project for a 2022 opening as scheduled, for instance.