Fairmount Corridor: Boston’s next transit-oriented development hotspot
By Matthew M. Robare
A rendering of the future Blue Hill Avenue commuter rail station in Mattapan.
In the recent Go Boston 2030 transportation action plan, the City of Boston identifies the Fairmount commuter rail line, which runs through largely undeveloped parts of Boston’s Dorchester, Mattapan and Hyde Park neighborhoods, as a key public transit corridor for future investment. Go Boston 2030 calls for the procurement of diesel multiple units (DMUs), self-propulsion railcars similar to the electrically-powered trains of the MBTA Green Line, that would allow for frequent transit service every 15 minutes during peak hours; Fairmount Line trains currently run every hour. With future frequent transit service and an untapped location minutes from Downtown Boston, the Fairmount corridor presents enormous transit-oriented development potential, where small bets could have major dividends. A number of development projects have already been proposed and approved along the corridor, with many more sure to come.
A map of the Fairmount Line, which runs from South Station to Readville.
Moving southward from South Station, the first stop on the Fairmount Line is Newmarket, one of Boston’s few remaining industrial districts, wedged between Roxbury and Dorchester. The district melds organically into nearby residential neighborhoods and includes the existing South Bay Shopping Center. Former City Councilor Mike Ross has noted Newmarket’s potential for residential development and the establishment of a new artist community.
Steps from Newmarket Station, the 720,000 square foot South Bay Town Center mixed-use development is well underway. South Bay Town Center will incorporate a walkable street grid, similar to Assembly Row in Somerville, and will feature around 475 apartments with retail space, a hotel and a movie theater. A number of smaller apartment buildings, including the recently approved 40-unit 1258-1272 Massachusetts Avenue, are also being developed nearby.
A rendering of the South Bay Town Center development.
The Newmarket neighborhood also offers an intriguing possibility for industrial and research & development (R&D) office space construction. With close proximity to the Boston University Medical Campus and improved connections to the MBTA Red Line and the Seaport District through South Station, Newmarket could be an attractive and viable alternative to Kendall Square, Alewife and the Longwood Medical Area for start-up office space.
The next stop on the Fairmount Line is Uphams Corner, a walkable mixed-use district featuring a variety of residential types as well as a neighborhood shopping and office district. A startup incubator space, the Fairmount Innovation Lab, recently opened in the heart of Uphams Corner in a historic office building. A 20-unit residential building with 3,032 square feet of ground-floor retail was recently proposed at 734 Dudley Street, steps from the train station.
Uphams Corner presents a number of vacant lots ripe for development, as well as building renovation opportunities. Many industrial buildings line East Cottage Street; vacant lots are scattered across the neighborhood, including along Leyland Street and Robey Street. Next to Uphams Corner Station on Dudley Street is the Leon Electrical Building, a 50,000 square foot vacant factory building which presents a unique opportunity for adaptive reuse and transit-oriented development. Steps away from the station, the approved Indigo Block development will transform the Maxwell Box property, a vacant industrial facility located at 65 East Cottage Street, into a multifaceted mixed-use complex featuring 80 apartment residences, ground-floor retail and some light industrial space.
The Indigo Block will replace a decrepit industrial building with 80 apartments in Uphams Corner.
After Uphams Corner is the Four Corners/Geneva station. Existing development around the station is mainly residential, with clusters of commercial development on Blue Hill Avenue, Columbia Road, Geneva Avenue and Washington Street. A few projects are planned in the area. At 16 Ronald Street, a 54-unit affordable senior housing building, Hearth at Four Corners, will be built. At 123 Hamilton Street, an upcoming 52-studio residential development will be rented to chronically or formerly homeless individuals 55 years of age and older. At 191-195 Bowdoin St, a mixed-use development will feature 41 affordable apartment residences with 6,057 square feet of ground-floor retail that could be occupied by the Dorchester Community Food Co-op, a grassroots initiative to create a community and worker-owned grocery store. Good opportunities for redevelopment could be had off of Westwood and Wilrose Streets, where there are many acres of largely undeveloped land. The area also has a fine stock of pre-war apartment buildings, similar to those along Commonwealth Avenue in Allston or in the Fenway.
Hearth at Four Corners will feature 54 affordable senior housing units next to the Four Corners/Geneva station.
A number of vacant lots are also located around the Morton Street station on the Fairmount Line, including a 2.84-acre parcel on Evans Street next to the Morton Village Apartments. A short walk to the Morton Street station, at 1199-1203 Blue Hill Avenue, a market rate mixed-use development with 21 condominium residences, 3,000 square feet of retail and a 55-seat, 2,800 square foot restaurant with outdoor seating was recently proposed.
1199-1203 Blue Hill Avenue would feature 21 condominium residences, 3,000 square feet of retail and a 55-seat, 2,800 square foot restaurant with outdoor seating.
Down in Mattapan, where construction on the new Blue Hill Avenue station is expected to begin this year, the Cote Village development, which will feature 76 residential units and 4,172 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, is expected to begin construction soon. There are a number of parking lots in the neighborhood near both the upcoming Fairmount Line station and the existing MBTA Red Line trolley station that could be developed. One of them, owned by the MBTA on River Street, has been proposed as a site for 135 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail by the Nuestra Communidad Development Corporation and Preservation of Affordable Housing. Fifty-one percent of the units would be affordable. A proposed bus rapid transit line on Blue Hill Avenue would supplement the upcoming commuter rail station with additional fast, reliable transit.
This development, which would be located adjacent to the existing Mattapan MBTA Red Line station, would contain 135 apartments and approximately 12,000 square feet of retail.
Around Fairmount Station, the Hyde Park neighborhood has a number of parking lots that could be developed, as well as low-density commercial buildings that could be redeveloped into denser developments with a mix of uses. The Residences at Fairmount Station, a joint project by the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation and the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, will bring 27 mixed-income apartment residences to the neighborhood, invigorating the local Main Streets district. On the other side of the commuter rail tracks, Nordblom Company proposes to renovate an existing building at 735 Truman Parkway that was formerly a nursing home into an apartment building with 46 residences.
The Residences at Fairmount Station would feature 27 mixed-income apartment residences and would be located next to the commuter rail station.
At Readville Station, the last stop on the Fairmount Line, a number of industrial sites recommend themselves. A particularly exciting project is Readville Campus, proposed by developer Jordan Warshaw, which would feature five apartment buildings fronting Sprague Pond containing 521 residences targeted at millennials. Two additional projects near the station, 1591-1619 Hyde Park Avenue and 1717 Hyde Park Avenue, are in the planning stages. The neighborhoods around Readville Station feature a diverse housing stock of single-family homes, duplexes, triple deckers and apartment buildings that could be renovated or redeveloped to add density.
Readville Campus would feature 521 residences targeted at millennials.