About 100 people packed a room at the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester clubhouse on Monday night to discuss the latest configuration of the proposed DOT Block development, which now includes a pedestrian corridor bisecting the five-acre site.
As neighbors, abutters, and attendees peppered the developers and Boston Redevelopment Authority representatives with questions, concerns about traffic flow and congestion emerged, as did queries about the retail space that would anchor the development.
“All of this development, to be successful, needs vehicular support,” said Eric Robinson of RODE Architects. The latest design, which DOT Block’s planners are careful to note remains a fluid process, features a right turn into the development from Dorchester Avenue and a roundabout at the intersection of Pleasant and Hancock streets to control the flow of traffic and make the snarled intersection more passable for pedestrians. A five-story parking garage would also be buttressed by buildings of roughly the same height within the development.
In its latest iteration, DOT Block will have 429 housing units in a mix of rentals, condominiums, and affordable housing; roughly 73,000 square feet of retail space; and up to 450 parking spaces. Developers say the development’s total cost is currently between $100 million and $150 million.
“If the retail piece is done correctly, I think that this will be a real benefit to this community here,” City Councillor Frank Baker said at the meeting. Currently, DOT Block’s retail configuration is on the ground floor of the two buildings along Dorchester Avenue and one on Hancock Street, which would face the newly created pedestrian way.
“We have no commitments on what the retail is,” Robinson said. “We’re trying to give the retail brokers and development team as much flexibility as possible.” One audience member asked that Wal-Mart be kept out.
Demetrios Dasco, of Atlas Group LLC, which is financing the development, said, “This is really a project for the young professionals that are being priced out of other areas. For people that want to live and work with the city.” He added that the new units must be affordable to middle income buyers, likely making between $80,000 and $120,000 annually, numbers that some in the crowd contested as not middle income. “For new construction projects, this cost is so much less than anywhere else in the city,” Dasco said.
The DOT Block development still does not occupy the entire swath of Dorchester Avenue from Greenmount Street to Glovers Corner. The proponents behind the development are “still working very hard on this acquisition at Greenmount and Dorchester Avenue,” said Catherine O’Neill, who is representing the developers in the community.
The comment period for the development with the BRA ends on July 10. Initial construction is expected to begin at the eastern and southern portion sites along Dorchester Avenue and Hancock Street, according to a handout distributed at the public meeting.