New owner to finish JFK-UMass apartment complex

The Residences at Morrissey Boulevard will include 278 apartments. Work will begin later this year. Image courtesy Synergy

A previously announced plan to build a five-story, $50 million apartment complex next to the JFK-UMass MBTA station is moving ahead, but with a new owner in the mix. The “Residences at Morrissey Boulevard” project, which was approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority last year, was conceived and planned by Synergy Investment & Development.

This week, the Reporter was told that Synergy will sell the property and project rights to Criterion Development Partners, a Waltham-based company that specializes in the “development, construction and asset management of investment-quality multifamily communities.”

The sale has not been finalized, and no sales price has been disclosed, but the closing is said to be imminent, with construction of the 278-unit rental complex expected to begin as soon as the fall.
Jack Englert, the executive vice president of Criterion, said this week that the building project will be the same one that was approved by the BRA board last fall.

“We love its location on the Red Line, its convenient access to the highway, and its proximity to all the amenities that are up and down the beach,” said Englert, who added that Criterion views the Dorchester location as a good fit in its portfolio of Boston area properties that includes locations in Medford, Cambridge, and Canton. “The type of construction that we do, we tend to be in the first ring, not right in the city. This is our first venture into Boston and one of the themes of all of our projects is proximity to transit,” said Englert. “This is an ideal spot.”

Synergy continues to control other key property holdings along Morrissey Boulevard, including the Shaw’s supermarket and the Greater Boston Media Company building. The “Residences at Morrissey Boulevard” project has been framed as the first phase in a 20-year redevelopment effort along the roadway, which will now include the disposition of the Boston Globe property, which is currently being marketed for sale by owner John Henry, who purchased the newspaper company and its holdings last year.

Dave Greaney, the president and CEO of Synergy, said Criterion’s prior development experience and “commitment ti executing the plan consistent with what we presented to the neighborhood and the city was a significant factor in our decision to award them the deal.”

“We will continue to be large stakeholders on Morrissey Boulevard and we have a vested interest in the successful completion of this project,” said Greaney. “We are confident that the new ownership team will deliver a first class product to the neighborhood.”

The two-acre parcel at 25 Morrissey Boulevard was acquired by Synergy in 2007. Greaney delayed development of the parcel for several years waiting on the economic recovery and the completion of a BRA-led master planning process, which was concluded in 2011.

The Residences project has been planned as two buildings, each with below-grade parking, and both rising five stories from ground level. The height is considerably smaller than the 15 stories that would be allowed at the site under the BRA master plan. The property will include 36 rental units that will be marketed as affordable housing for households earning 70 percent of median income, as required by law, and 143 parking spaces.

According to BRA documents, the project will create 180 construction jobs and four permanent jobs on site, while generating $650,000 in annual property taxes for the city. In rolling out the plan in 2012, Greaney said that the size and density was right for the community and the site itself.

“This is the first phase in a 20-year plan,” said Greaney in 2012. “We wanted to have a project that would really establish this as a new neighborhood and make a big statement. Some people might want it to be taller, but we feel that this is what’s appropriate for this particular location.”

Englert said that some of the interior designs to the units might be altered under the new ownership, but that the project would feature the same number of units and the same appearance as the project approved by the BRA board. He expects the construction of the buildings to take between 18 and 20 months to complete.