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The Six Boston Neighborhoods and one City Everyone Should be Watching Right Now

By Tom Acitelli of Curbed

darqdesign/Shutterstock

Major projects are driving a lot of change in different areas of the Boston region—in some more than others.

These are the six neighborhoods and one city everyone should be watching right now.


Back Bay 

Rendering via Pelli Clarke Pelli/Boston Properties

The under-construction Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences One Dalton Street—a.k.a. One Dalton—will be Boston’s tallest new building since 200 Clarendon in 1976

The 742-foot tower with 160 condos and a Four Seasons hotel is expected to open within the next 12 months. 

The neighborhood is also due to host a veritable forest of new towers around Back Bay Station

That project, which includes a redevelopment of the Clarendon Garage, is expected to total 1.26 million square feet of housing, offices, and retail, with at least one tower stretching toward 400 feet.

Fenway-Kenmore

Fenway Center renderingRendering via Meredith Management

The 30-story, 340-foot Pierce Boston condo and apartment tower, the tallest building in Boston west of Back Bay, officially opened at Brookline Avenue and Boylston Street in Fenway on March 1. 

Four weeks earlier, one of the biggest—and longest-in-coming—new projects in the Boston region got officially underway: The five-building, 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center where Brookline and Commonwealth avenues meet in the Kenmore Square area.

What’s more, the Red Sox are planning to transform several lots around Fenway Park. And, speaking of Fenway Park, its famous neighbor is getting a new name

The South End 

Rendering via ExchangeSouthEnd.com

An absurd rush of new development in the South End’s northeastern reaches is transforming the neighborhood—indeed, it might be time to come up with a new neighborhood name for this area.

Together, the fresh projects are adding thousands of condos and apartments, never mind hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail (and, inevitably, thousands of residents).

Then there’s the recent proposal for redeveloping the 5.6-acre site of the former Boston Flower Exchange. What’s now dubbed the Exchange South End would run to nearly 1.6 million square feet and contain four new buildings.

These buildings would total more than $1.48 million square feet of commercial, technology, and life science research space—the idea is to rival other regional commercial hubs such as Kendall Square and the Seaport.

Finally, a “millennial resort” is headed to the still-emerging Ink Block development. Don’t get more game-change-y than that. 

East Boston

Rendering of Suffolk Downs via HYM Group

A wave of new development is sweeping much of Eastie, but no single development—or potential development—is as portentous as what’s unfolding at the 160-acre site of the shuttered Suffolk Downs racetrack. 

It’s there that owner HYM Investment Group has put forward a general redevelopment plan with two paths. Both paths include 16.5 million square feet of new residential, retail, office, hotel, and lab space built out over as long as two decades. (Eleven million square feet of that would go in Boston and 5.5 million in adjoining Revere.)

Now, should e-retail sasquatch Amazon pick Boston as host of its second headquarters, HYM would go with a so-called pro-commercial approach.

That pro-commercial path would be paved with the up to 8 million square feet of office space that Amazon is seeking in a new HQ. It would, too, include 7,500 residential units, 550,000 square feet of retail, and up to 830 hotel rooms.

But suppose Amazon choose Dallas or some such exotic placeinstead of Boston. In that case, HYM would take a pro-residential path, with 10,000 housing units, 450,000 square feet of retail, and 670 hotel rooms. 

There would also be 5.25 million square feet of office space.

Kendall Square 

Rendering via Elkus Manfredi

Kendall Square-based M.I.T. is driving much of the change in the Cambridge neighborhood.

At the start of 2017, the university paid the federal government a mint to take over the 14-acre Volpe transit center site, and then floated plans for what would be, at 500 feet, the tallest building in Cambridge.

The plans, which won a key zoning approval from the city in October 2017 (and which are rendered above), also call for about 1,400 housing units and 1.7 million square feet of offices and research space as well as acres of new parkland and plazas.

The university, too, plans to build several buildings south of Main Street, including a 28-story dorm.

Finally, there is the bigger-than-expected 19,000-square-foot Brothers Marketplace—part of the famed Roche Bros.’ chain—that is expected to open in the summer of 2019 at One Broadway. It is part of a larger M.I.T.-driven project called the Kendall Square Initiative.

Chelsea

Mass. Office of Travel and Tourism/Flickr

Silver Line service from downtown Boston into Chelsea is expected to start this spring. The five-mile route will run from South Station to a stop just west of Everett Avenue, and will facilitate connections to the Red and Blue lines.

An estimated 8,700 people will use the route daily, a figure sure to further boost Chelsea’s status as a Plan B for buyers and renters priced out of Boston proper.

The route will include an exclusive right-of-way for Silver Line buses once in Chelsea, where there will be four stops total. And, as part of the extension, the state will relocate Chelsea’s commuter rail station westward and spruce it up quite a bit.

Also, there are several small condo projects going up or recently opened in Chelsea, especially in the areas closer to Boston (though with decidedly un-Boston prices).

The West End

Robbie Shade

Enormous new developments around North Station and TD Garden are driving lasting changes to the West End’s streetscape and traffic. 

These developments including the Hub on Causeway, the first phase of which is under construction and is due to include the city’s largest supermarket; a 15-screen movie theater; 10,000 square feet of outdoor space for a new entrance to TD Garden and North Station; and 175,000 square feet of what the developers are calling “creative office space.”

Then there’s the 44-story, 469-unit tower set to rise in place of the Garden Garage