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Building height could double within the Harrison-Albany corridor

Posted by Cara Bayles  August 1, 2011 10:31 AM

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The South End could see building heights double, reaching 200 feet along sections of Albany Street and 150-200 feet in the New York Streets enclave bounded by Shawmut Avenue, Albany Street, Herald Street and East Berkeley Street.

If the Harrison-Albany corridor’s strategic plan wins the various bureaucratic approvals it needs to be adopted, the neighborhood could be rezoned to encourage this dramatic growth as early as December.

While much of the zoning for the corridor would remain relatively similar, the proposal increases the allowable height in sections of the South End enclave. In the New York Streets section, the current height is zoned at 70 feet, and the new plan would increase that to 100. But that section would also be zoned as a “planned development area,” which means that zoning would allow developers to build even higher—as tall as 200 feet along Albany Street, and 150 feet in the rest of the New York Streets section.

In exchange for the height increase, developers would have to offer specific “public amenities,” which might include a higher proportion of affordable housing, affordable cultural and commercial space for non-profits or small businesses, and converting 20 percent of a parcel into a street, alley, pedestrian way or plaza.

The advisory group that has been drafting the proposal with city planners since April 2009 met for their final working meeting last week, before officials present the plan in a community-wide meeting in September. The plan will then require approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority Board, the Landmarks Commission, and the Boston Zoning Commission.

E-mail Cara Bayles at carabayles@gmail.com.

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