According to year-end statistics compiled by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), Boston city planners have approved dozens of construction projects in 2021 that could give the city 7,887 new homes, 6 million square feet of new commercial space and enough parking to store 8,668 more cars.
Nearly three-quarters of this new parking lot — 6,441 spaces — would be built in transit-accessible neighborhoods within a quarter-mile of an MBTA station.
During 2021, the BPDA approved 71 new development projects which include a combined total of 17.1 million square feet of real estate within the city limits.
Most of these new projects include a housing component, either in purely residential apartment buildings or in mixed projects:
BPDA 2021 project approvals for mixed-use and residential developments
“TOD” indicates “transit-oriented development” – projects located within a quarter mile of an MBTA rapid transit or commuter rail station. Source: BPDA
Of the 29 purely residential developments the BPDA has approved in 2021, developers plan to build 2,352 new apartments and 1,114 new parking spaces – roughly one parking space for every 2 apartments.
But among the subset of 12 subdivisions that would be within a quarter-mile of an MBTA rapid transit or commuter rail station, the parking ratio was slightly lower: a total of 481 new spaces. parking space for 1,226 apartments (approximately 0.4 spaces per dwelling unit).
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The BPDA also approved 29 mixed-use projects in 2021, and collectively those projects could give Boston about 5,535 new homes, 2.6 million square feet of office, retail and other non-residential space, and 3,620 parking spaces – approximately two parking spaces for every three apartments. However, it is likely that some of these parking spaces will be reserved for the commercial tenants of these buildings.
Compared to previous years, the parking ratio per dwelling for residential and mixed-use projects has decreased.
In 2019, the agency approved 4,762 new homes as well as sufficient parking for 4,773 cars in residential and mixed-use projects – approximately one parking space for each apartment.
In 2020, this ratio fell slightly, to around 0.9 parking spaces per dwelling.
Boston planners approved more than 11,000 new parking spaces in 2020
However, BPDA non-residential project approvals in 2021 had significantly more associated parking than in previous years.
The agency has approved 10 office and laboratory projects as well as three institutional projects that collectively propose to build 3,934 new parking spaces:
BPDA 2021 Project Approvals for Commercial and Institutional Developments
“TOD” indicates projects located in transit-oriented neighbourhoods. Source: BPDA
In 2019, the BPDA approved 9 commercial or institutional projects with 2.4 million square feet of space and only 237 new parking spaces. And in 2020, the BPDA approved 2.3 million square feet of non-residential projects that collectively had only 200 attached parking spaces.
The increase in non-residential parking garage approvals this year can be partly explained by the types of applicants seeking BPDA approvals in 2021. While many non-residential projects in 2019 and 2020 were associated with universities, which tend to have lower parking demands, the BPDA’s program in 2021 included two large hospital expansions that insisted on spending health care dollars on large on-site parking lots.
One of the largest institutional project approvals this year was the Massachusetts General Hospital Expansion near Charles Circle. This project proposes to build a massive six-level underground parking garage for 977 cars next to traffic-congested Charles Circle in Boston’s West End (the project would also help build a proposed new subway platform for an extension of the MBTA blue line).
A handful of projects the BPDA has approved in 2021 would avoid building any on-site parking. The Boston Housing Authority final phase of the development of the HLM Old Colony districtwhich the BPDA Board approved in April, would replace 208 existing apartments and add an additional 134 affordable apartments in three new buildings with no off-street parking at the east end of the neighborhood, adjacent to Moakley Park.
And in Jamaica Plain, a short walk from the Green Street Orange Line stop, the BPDA has approved a new 5-story building (see rendering at the top of this article) that would provide housing for 38 low-income senior households. , plus a new street-level dining space for the El Embajador restaurant.
However, the owners of the adjacent Turtle Swamp Brewery sued to block this accommodation, specifically citing its lack of parking in their complaint.
Partly in response to lawsuits like that, the BPDA and the City of Boston passed two significant parking reforms late last year that could further reduce the number of parking lots that future developments can build.
End DecemberMayor Wu signed a new zoning ordinance that will eliminate minimum parking mandates for residential projects where at least 60% of new homes would be limited income for low- and middle-income households.
And in October, the BPDA passed new planning guidelines that will impose maximum parking limits for large developments, with stricter limits applying in the most walkable and transit-accessible areas of the city.