Nubian Square: Parcel P3
Developer Partnership Wins Tentative Designation for Parcel P3 in Nubian Square
The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board today voted at their January board meeting to tentatively designate HYM Investment Group, LLC and My City at Peace (HYM/MyCAP) to redevelop Parcel P-3 in Roxbury. HYM and MyCAP are proposing to transform this long vacant parcel, which is currently being used as overflow parking for adjacent sites, into much needed affordable housing for the community, green spaces, life science buildings, a life science workforce training center, and a new museum and policy center. Due to its large size, proximity to public transit, major roads, and educational facilities, this site has the potential to contribute to economic development in the Nubian Square area while advancing the community’s vision for affordable housing, arts & culture, and equity. Currently, the proposal aims to redevelop this parcel into five mixed-use buildings and open space – with affordable, for sale housing to be completed in Phase 1 of the development to ensure this urgent community need is prioritized and completed as quickly as possible. These buildings would be a mix of lab, residential, retail, commercial, and assembly space. Consisting of approximately 7.7 acres, this is the largest undeveloped parcel in the BPDA’s real estate portfolio.
“I’m glad we’re taking this first step toward a vision for P-3 being realized,” said Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison. “BPDA staff has worked diligently to pursue deep engagement with the community and prioritize their recommended vision for this land at every step of the process. The BPDA looks forward to working with HYM/MyCAP to transform Parcel P-3 into a positive addition that benefits the people of Roxbury.”
“On behalf of the P-3 Roxbury Team, we are thankful to the BPDA Board of Directors, the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee, the Project Review Committee and the Roxbury community for choosing our team as the developer of P-3”, said Reverend Jeffery Brown, Founder and CEO of My City at Peace and Thomas N. O’Brien, Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer of The HYM Investment Group, LLC. “Driven by Boston and Roxbury’s next generation of Black, Brown, and Women entrepreneurs, we are committed to creating generational wealth, high-paying jobs with long-term career opportunities, and affordable housing for families of color in the Nubian Square and Greater Roxbury area.”
The original RFP for this proposal was released in October of 2021, following a multi-year planning effort that began in 2016, known as PLAN: Nubian Square. The planning process was originally launched to guide the RFP process for nine publicly-owned parcels, including Parcel P-3. The resulting RFP development objectives for Parcel P-3 were driven by community feedback, including affordable housing, economic development, development without displacement, good jobs standards, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and additional community benefits. The BPDA received two proposals in response to the RFP, and through an evaluation process with community stakeholders, determined HYM/MyCAP’s proposal was most advantageous and responsive to the community’s vision for the land.
One of the main focuses of this proposal in response to the original RFP, is to create a significant amount of affordable housing without displacing current community residents. Currently, HYM/MyCAP are proposing approximately 466 units of housing total, which will be a mix of homeownership and rental. Of those units, approximately 66 percent will be considered affordable or income-restricted. The proposal intends to expedite and maximize affordable housing with a creative financing approach whereby the value from life science uses will cross-subsidize affordable housing, among other community benefits. The developers also plan to provide resources to prepare residents for buying a home in order to increase the number of families able to attain homeownership. HYM/MyCAP have committed to delivering the homeownership component of the project in the first phase of development.
This proposal for P-3 also includes lab space, as well as a commitment to job training in the life sciences industry for those in the Roxbury community. HYM/MyCAP have partnered with LabCentral Ignite, a life sciences nonprofit dedicated to upskilling and training people of color to fill positions in the life sciences buildings. LabCentral Ignite was created to address the disparities in the biotech industry’s workforce among racial and gender representation. This new center, designed, staffed, and operated by LabCentral’s Ignite, will be focused on harnessing the power of community to address systemic racial and gender underrepresentation in the life sciences.
Over the years, Roxbury has been home to activists, civil rights leaders, artists, and musicians, and the neighborhood is known for its vibrant Black community and culture. Today, over 50 percent of the neighborhood’s population identifies as Black. Roxbury was designated as a Cultural District in 2017, elevating the area’s art, history, and community. In keeping with that spirit, this proposal includes space for Embrace Boston which will act as the cultural anchor for the project and drive civic engagement, working to advance economic justice for residents and introduce visitors from around the globe to this unique aspect of Boston’s past and present. Embrace Boston honors the memory of Dr. and Coretta Scott King by advancing their life’s work to ensure a more racially and economically just future. The space will be utilized as a museum/gallery and policy forum, providing a strong sense of identity to the overall project and a place for the community to engage passionately with ideas to advance racial and economic equity.
Like all BPDA-owned parcels in the City of Boston, the selected development team was required to meet the BPDA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion evaluation criterion, and outline commitments to including Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBEs) in all aspects of their development process. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) criteria was weighted at 25 percent of the total evaluation of the proposal. HYM and MyCAP are 50 - 50 partners and MyCAP is an MBE firm. There are 10 additional M/WBE firms on the team including Madison Park Development Corporation, DREAM Development, The OnyxGroup, Prive Parking, Embrace Boston, LabCentral Ignite, DREAM Collaborative, Agency Landscape + Planning, enviENERGY, Nitsch Engineering, and Maven Construction. The overall development team is comprised of 80 percent M/WNPO and M/WBE firms, and 100 percent of the team has committed to elevating M/WBE firms and individuals as it builds out the rest of the project team and through the development process.
In addition, the development team has committed to a detailed recruiting, mentorship, and sponsorship program for minorities and women who wish to join the building trades. They also plan to build partnerships with Madison Park High School, BFIT, and other schools to provide internships, co-ops, and more for hands-on work experience.
In December 2020, MassDevelopment awarded the BPDA a Brownfields Remediation Recoverable Grant for up to $250,000 for environmental cleanup of the site, which contains both soil contamination and groundwater contamination – the source of which is likely contaminants common in urban fill and possibly historic releases from former industrial use of the property. The BPDA is currently working to deploy those funds on environmental remediation activities at Parcel P-3, targeting the areas of highest contamination. This first phase of remediation activity is planned to be completed in 2023.
Since adopting DEI criteria in 2018, more than 18 RFPs have been released with the DEI requirements, and 12 have been designated. A core value of the BPDA’s real estate practice is to use public property to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a result, the RFP required respondents to submit a detailed, impactful and implementable Diversity and Inclusion Plan for establishing and overseeing a minority outreach program aimed at creating increased opportunities for people of color and women.
Following the tentative designation, HYM/MyCAP will file the project for Article 80 Large Project Review. The Article 80 process will be managed by the BPDA, in partnership with the community and local elected officials, to review the proposal’s impacts on transportation, the public realm, the environment, and other important considerations.