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Construction pause upends development in the Boston region

That’s the week's biggest development news—though there’s also a proposal for Brighton and some choice nuggets from the archives

A lone construction worker closing a chain-link fence at a construction site, and there’s an orange barrel next to him. Boston Globe via Getty Images

Welcome back to Critical Mass., in which Curbed Boston covers the region’s major development news every week. The biggest story now? The fact that there isn’t much going on. A controversial construction pause as well as a suspension of meetings to review project proposals have brought Greater Boston’s development boom largely to a halt. Still, there’s a proposal in Brighton and some stories you may have missed. Thanks for reading.


First to that controversial construction pause. Officials in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville—which have together formed the nexus of the development boom in the area—are maintaining construction moratoriums in order to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The state wants projects to barrel ahead, however, setting up potential legal battles between developers and local authorities.

As for those local moratoriums, leaders in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville say they’re necessary to protect construction workers and to help stem that viral spread. And, as for Boston’s, what was supposed to be a two-week pause is now indefinite.

But the construction pause doesn’t mean the end of projects underway or even proposed. Speaking of proposals, a developer wants to add four stories to a vacant building on Market Street in Boston’s Brighton Center. It would include 23 apartments, and there would be 24 parking spots to go along with them.

A construction worker working with a wood frame of a building several stories up.
A worker at the Winthrop Center site on March 17, the day Boston’s moratorium began taking effect.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

And the developer behind the tallest U.S. building under construction north of New York City says that project is prepared to pick up right where it left off before Boston’s construction moratorium. The 691-foot Winthrop Center in the Financial District is still scheduled to open in 2022.

Finally, for this truncated Critical Mass., if you need a little distraction from the coronavirus crisis, try these 10 stories from the Curbed Boston archives that have nothing to do with the pandemic. They include pieces related to development and the region’s built environment—including one from 2018 on why no Boston tower will likely ever clear 800 feet.