Margarita Kvacheva
Senior vice president, LBC Boston
Age: 31
Industry experience: 9 years 

Developer LBC Boston is seeking approval for the largest project yet to be approved under Boston’s two-year-old compact living pilot. The $140 million Allston Green project would replace seven buildings on Linden and Pratt streets in Allston with a three-building complex spanning 256,000 square feet and 350 apartments. A native of Russia, Margarita Kvacheva moved to New York for an exchange student program before coming to Boston to attend Suffolk University and Wentworth Institute of Technology. She joined LBC in 2013 and worked her way up from property management to her current role as senior vice president. 

Q: Do you think the compact living model including lower-priced studio units will become more popular as people seek to avoid having roommates during and after the pandemic?
A: This is exactly how we look at it. There’s a ton of studies saying people value location over the space. Nowadays, people are not attached to grandma’s silverware set. They value having their own space. We want those folks who are just starting out and want to have their own place and don’t want to have roommates. It may be somebody downsizing who doesn’t want a big house in the suburbs. 

Q: What were your priorities for the common area features, given the tradeoffs with smaller living units?
A: Besides your typical building with a gym and gathering space, we are proposing as much open space as we can: a roof deck on every building and creating 20,000 square feet of open space that’s publicly accessible. The hope is to have this gathering space for the residents and the neighborhood where we can do movie nights and concerts and food festivals, working with local neighborhood groups to program the space. One cool thing, because we live in New England and we’re constantly in deprivation of vitamin D: we’re going to have a vitamin D room with special lamps. Also, Allston is known for all the artists, so we’re doing a coworking space for local artists with about 2,000 square feet of dedicated space. 

Q: How were the Allston Green designs revised after the original filing to reflect comments during the community review?
A: Originally, we filed for a 14-story tower. That has not been very well received even though it was somewhat in line with the [Boston Planning & Development Agency] Guest Street study, so we cut the 14 stories down to 7, and we’re having a lot of talk about affordability. We increased [on-site income-restricted units] from 13 to 15 percent and we deepened affordability. Our current AMI [area median income] is 70 percent, but artists were complaining even at 70 percent they can’t afford to live here. So, we’ve dedicated six artists’ lofts at much deeper affordability: 50 percent AMI. 

Q: Boston’s compact living pilot sets maximum, not minimum, unit sizes. What’s the latest research on the optimal square-footage?
A: Obviously, we want to build something that’s useful. If you build something that’s too small, it may not be usable or appealing. A lot of it obviously was determined by the shape of the building. A lot of our compact units are close to the maximum [425 square feet for studios and 650 square feet for one-bedrooms]. We tried to put as large units as we could, so that people could actually have their living and sleeping space and kitchens and washer-dryers and one or two closets in every unit. We’re working with Ori, a company that came up with a robotic furniture product that makes your bedroom into a living room on demand. 

Q: What would be the rent structure at Allston Green if it were opening today?
A: It would be $300 less than a typical market-rate unit. Studios in our area of Boston range from $2,600 to $2,700 a month. 

Q: Did LBC give any thought to a co-living model for this property, and what are the differences in demographics between compact living and co-living?
A: I believe in our product and our model and we’d like to create a community. We don’t want the transient population in our building – we want people to come and stay a few years. Our goal is to attract young professionals, empty-nesters and people who have been living in Allston-Brighton in the two- and three-bedroom apartments with roommates. 

Q: Compact living developers also qualify for lower parking ratios. What are the plans for transportation demand management at Allston Green?
A: We have a robust plan including a Bluebikes station and unbundling the cost of parking from rent. We’ll provide more than one-to-one bike storage, 32 electric vehicle charging stations, and we’ll provide a subsidy to tenants for MBTA passes or Bluebikes memberships. 

Kvacheva’s Five Favorite Boston Restaurants 

  1. Saltie Girl, Boston 
  2. Kava, South End
  3. Yvonne’s, Boston 
  4. Fox & The Knife, South Boston 
  5. Alba, Quincy 

A New Housing Compact for Allston

by Steve Adams time to read: 3 min