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New Downtown Crossing building could reach 21 stories—and include no parking

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Other big development news of the week includes major projects for Dorchester and Newton as well as more change in Cambridge’s Central Square

Rendering of a 21-story, mostly glass tower. Midwood Investment and Development

Welcome back to Critical Mass., in which Curbed Boston covers all the region's major development news every week. This very busy go-round includes historic plans for the old Bayside Expo site in Dorchester, a big milestone for a controversial project in Newton, and yet another significant change in Cambridge’s Central Square. Let’s get started, shall we? —Tom Acitelli, Curbed Boston editor

The biggest news of the week? The initial plans for the old 20-acre Bayside Expo Center site in Dorchester and an adjacent 12-acre parcel at 2 Morrissey Boulevard. A developer is now proposing 5.9 million square feet of new development, including 1,740 housing units. This would be one of the single, largest developments in modern Boston history.

And, in Newton’s Upper Falls, proponents of a 14-building development that would include 800 housing units won a key vote on Tuesday that advances the controversial project. Some residents were worried about its scope, and forced the public vote following City Council approval in December. Demolition work is now expected to start this year.

Now to Downtown Crossing, where the developer behind longtime efforts to erect a building at Washington and Bromfield streets has returned with its third plan for the site: a 21-story, 424,400-square-foot office building with no parking. The Great Recession scuttled the first plan for One Bromfield, and concerns about traffic scuttled the second.

Speaking of fresh plans, a developer closed on a 99-year ground lease for the MidTown Hotel and One Cumberland Street, both across from the Christian Science Plaza in Back Bay. The new leaseholder is planning a residential and retail redevelopment of the properties, but the MidTown will continue taking reservations for now.

Time for a project that’s further along. The third and final component of Market Central in Cambridge’s Central Square—Watermark Central, a 19-story apartment building where studios run more than $2,400 a month—has started to open. It joins other big changes in the Red Line-serviced neighborhood, including Central’s first boutique hotel and another luxury apartment building that opened in late 2019.

Rendering of a multi-story building from afar and amidst a cityscape. Renderings courtesy of the Archer Residences/Neoscape

Not quite opening, but close: The Archer Residences, a luxury conversion of two former Suffolk University buildings on Temple Street near the Massachusetts State House, could welcome its first owners as early as the second quarter of this year. The team behind the development describe the 62-unit project as “the first and only fully amenitized, full-service luxury condominium in Beacon Hill.”

Finally, a meta-trend. Companies are currently prioritizing moves from suburban office markets in the Boston region to the more expensive core ones such as Kendall Square and the Seaport District, according to new figures. But investors in office properties still see potential in the cheaper space farther out. Go figure.