South Bay Town Center is back for public review; Wahlburger’s plans first Dot location at site

A rendering of what the South Bay Town Center project might look like upon completion.

A Boston Redevelopment Authority-hosted public meeting on the sprawling South Bay Town Center development will be held next Wednesday to give residents another chance to review the massive mixed-use project.

The most recent version of the plan includes 62 affordable housing units on the site, roughly 13 percent of the proposed 475 residential units. The project will also create about 113,000 square feet of retail and dining space, a hotel with approximately 130 rooms and structured parking, a movie theater, and some 1,100 parking spaces largely tucked away into building structures.

The 10.6-acre proposal adjacent to the South Bay Mall has been under review by the Boston Redevelopment Authority since last February. Much of the public scrutiny to date has been about concerns about traffic volume and flow. Alterations have been made to the street grid that will stitch the new center to the existing mall.

“The majority of it was focused on the transportation layout of the overall project,” said BRA project manager Raul Duverge. “So, they made changes to way the roads were laid out, as well as reconfigure some of the streets from one-way to two-way, or one-way to two-way depending on the street. So that’s where a lot of the time and energy was focused on, the overall transportation and pedestrian access throughout the site.”

According to an outline on the BRA website, ‘the project would provide new public facilities and amenities on previously developed urban parcels that are predominately vacant, inaccessible, and of poor environmental quality,”

AMC Theaters has signed onto a lease with the development team Allstate Road (Edens), which owns the South Bay big-box mall. The project’s 12-screen cinema would be run by the AMC company.

Duverge said the developers have signed two leases for the site: The AMC and one with the Wahlberg brothers for a Wahlburgers restaurant location in the proposed center.

The Dorchester natives have been looking to open a location of their Hingham-based restaurant chain in their home neighborhood, but have been waiting for the right location. Chef Paul Wahlberg told the Reporter in 2014, before the premiere of the A&E network’s “Wahlburgers” reality show, “We have looked in a few places in Dorchester, but we’re trying to take the next step and make it the right step.” That step appears to be toward a 5,000-square-foot restaurant in the proposed mixed-use development.

Wahlburgers Boston Developer Co. LLC — headed by Paul, Mark, Donnie, Wahlberg — has set a $10 million investment goal, per a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing reported by the Boston Herald. They have reportedly raised $1.36 million.

This would be the fourth Wahlburgers in Massachusetts, joining sites in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, Lynnfield, and the original Hingham location. Four additional outlets are planned to open in the next few years, including one in Logan’s Terminal C; the other sites are Orlando, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas.

“What is special about the store, of course, is that the Wahlberg brothers are just thrilled to have a Wahlburgers in their home town,” company spokeswoman Lori Moretti told the Herald.

Edens is actively seeking retail partners, Duverge said, although leases signed during the development process are always contingent upon final approvals.

Public input will be welcome at a BRA-sponsored meeting scheduled for next Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 12 building (1240 Massachusetts Ave.)

Two elements are in play with comment periods, Duverge said. The updated project application — the Draft Project Impact Form filed on Jan. 22 -– on which the community is being briefed and which is available on the BRA website, will be open for comments until April 7.  A development plan to be filed over the next few weeks also comes with a 45-day comment period.

So far, said Duverge, few comments have come his way, maybe three or four in all. After the next comment period ends, the BRA will assess comments and determine whether a third iteration of the plan is necessary.