State boosts Boston’s downtown office to residential conversion program with $15M.

Title: Boston Program Receives $15 Million Boost to Convert Office Space into Housing

Introduction:
A City of Boston program aimed at converting unused office space into new housing units received a significant financial boost of $15 million from the state, announced by the mayor and governor at a joint event on Monday. The investment from the Healey administration will fund up to $215,000 per affordable unit, with a cap of $4 million per project, extending the city’s Office to Residential Conversion Program application deadline to the end of 2025.

Program Expansion and Goals:
Mayor Michelle Wu emphasized the importance of addressing the housing crisis in Boston and the region, stating that more affordable homes are needed to make the city accessible to all residents. The program has already generated interest from local developers, with Governor Maura Healey noting that the concept is drawing attention from cities nationwide due to the rise of remote and hybrid work arrangements.

Current Progress and Future Plans:
Since its launch, the program has received nine applications to create 412 housing units across 13 buildings, exceeding city goals. Two applications have been approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency board, with construction set to begin in the summer. The $15 million state investment will help lower upfront costs for developers and is expected to result in 300 to 500 additional housing units.

Incentives and Response to Criticism:
Developers participating in the program receive a tax incentive, with a 75% reduction in property tax bills for up to 29 years. The mayor clarified that the program aims to activate downtown areas and will not compromise the city’s commercial character. Both housing and planning chiefs reassured that the program will preserve building exteriors and maintain Boston’s status as a commercial hub.

State Support and Benefits:
The Healey administration expressed its support for converting underutilized office space into housing, viewing it as a crucial tool to increase housing availability and lower costs. The state’s Housing and Livable Communities Secretary highlighted the importance of filling old office spaces with residents to enhance street vibrancy and support local businesses.

Key Points:

  • The City of Boston program received a $15 million boost from the state for converting office space into housing units.
  • The funding will extend the program’s application deadline and support the creation of 300 to 500 additional housing units.
  • Developers receive tax incentives for participating in the program, aiming to activate downtown areas without compromising the city’s commercial character.
  • The Healey administration supports the initiative to convert underutilized office space into housing, emphasizing the benefits for housing availability and local economies.
  • The conversion program has generated interest from developers and cities nationwide, showcasing its potential impact beyond Boston.

    Summary:
    The City of Boston’s program to convert office space into housing received a $15 million investment from the state, extending its deadline and supporting the creation of additional housing units. The initiative aims to address the city’s housing crisis while preserving its commercial character and activating downtown areas. With support from the Healey administration, the program is poised to bring new residents to underutilized office spaces, benefiting local businesses and neighborhoods.

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