A 168-unit affordable housing and hotel tower planned for a city-owned parcel in Boston’s Chinatown is unlikely to move ahead because of rippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when eviction pressures are squeezing neighborhood residents.

Boston-based Asian Community Development Corp. had planned to build 168 condominiums and apartments in a combined housing and hotel tower on parcel P-12C, which would contain ground-floor space for a new branch of the Boston Public Library.

“Some rents are softening, but the reality is lots of people in Chinatown have lost jobs and those jobs are not coming back,” said Angie Liou, executive director of the Asian CDC. “We’re really looking to the mayor and the [Boston Planning and Development Agency] to see what they might be able to move it along.”

Prospects for the project – approved by the BPDA in February – took an almost-immediate hit when the pandemic delayed an $800 million construction financing package for Millennium Partners’ Winthrop Center skyscraper at 115 Federal St. Millennium had designated the Chinatown project as recipient of a $15 million payment to comply with a city policy that requires multifamily developers to support affordable housing construction if they do not include 13 percent income-restricted units on-site. Asian CDC planned to use the payment as a key component of its financing package.

In July, the BPDA approved Millennium’s request to switch the residential component of the Winthrop Center tower to apartments and reduce the unit count from 387 to 321, citing lenders new reluctance to finance luxury high-rise condos. As part of the new agreement, Millennium can spread the $22 million affordable housing payment over seven years.

Asian CDC is part of a development team including Corcoran Jennison Co., which would operate a 200-room hotel on the lower levels of the 426,500-square-foot tower, and Tufts University, which owns a parking garage next to the 290 Tremont St. site which would be expanded and connect to the new development.

Now the same COVID-19 concerns are jeopardizing prospects for hotel financing and the larger P-12C project moving forward, Liou said.

Chinatown has seen significant displacement and rising rents in recent years along with conversion of apartments into short-term rentals. Residents behind on rent payments face an Oct. 17 deadline when Massachusetts eviction moratorium expires.

“We have even more of an urgency right now for housing,” Liou said.

In a statement, the BPDA said today it remains “deeply committed to the P-12C project which will bring much needed affordable housing units and a Boston Public Library branch to Chinatown. The BPDA is working to identify additional funding opportunities for this project if needed.”

No updates were available from a Millennium Partners spokeswoman for the status of the Winthrop Center financing. In July, Millennium Partner Joseph Larkin told BPDA officials the construction financing for the roughly $1 billion project could be secured in September.

This report has been updated with a statement from the BPDA.

Housing Developer Says Chinatown Project Stalled Without Changes

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min