Image courtesy of HYM Investment Group and DREAM Collaborative

Roxbury’s long-vacant parcel P3 is a gnawing reminder of disinvestment in Boston’s minority neighborhoods and their struggles to tap into the city’s economic growth.

As officials begin to review the latest development proposals for the 8-acre parcel, Boston-based HYM Investment Group is proposing that Roxbury join the Greater Boston life science boom in force with 700,000 square feet of office and lab space.

“This is something that can be very special and does create the opportunities for generational wealth and really important jobs in the community,” HYM Managing Director Thomas O’Brien said this week.

Beyond job creation, the proposal seeks to address the federal government’s history of redlining that discouraged mortgages for home ownership in minority neighborhoods.

HYM is proposing a new wrinkle in the housing component of its plan: 144 income-restricted condominiums that would be deed restricted for 15 years instead of the standard 20 to 40 years, so buyers could eventually sell their units at market rates.

“We want to create home ownership for Black and Brown families, and historically they were not allowed to participate in the home ownership market for decades after World War II,” O’Brien said.

The affordable condos would be restricted to households earning a maximum 65 percent of area median income. The project also would include 40 market-rate condos, 164 affordable apartments and 118 market-rate apartments.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency-owned property on Tremont Street is a remnant of a failed 1960s urban renewal plan for a citywide high school. Efforts to revitalize Roxbury’s economy included a Menino administration attempt to lure the relocation of Partners HealthCare’s headquarters and thousands of white-collar jobs to parcel P3.

More recently, the BPDA revoked the preferred developer designation of Boston-based Feldco Development and Elma Lewis Partners in 2019 after they failed to secure financing for 727 housing units, a B.J.’s Wholesale Club and a new home for the National Center of Afro American Artists.

The latest request for proposals, responses to which are due today, is expected to attract a strong response from developers.

HYM is partnering with My City at Peace, an anti-violence and community-building organization led by Rev. Jeffrey Brown, as potential co-master developer of the site. Increasing home ownership in inner-city neighborhoods is part of the group’s strategy to reduce chronic unemployment and wealth disparities.

“If we can get folks to own their own homes, they would view their community in a much different way,” Brown said. “It builds generational wealth and can contribute to the health of a community.”

The sale of income-restricted condos with abbreviated deed restrictions would require approval by state and city officials.

“It’s been done one way for a long time and we’re suggesting, at least for this particular site, the hope is it should be looked at a little differently,” O’Brien said.

My City at Peace also would manage an economic development and cultural center on parcel P3 including performance and meeting space.

HYM is partnering with Madison Park Development Corp. on approximately 165 units of rental housing in the project, and broker Chanda Smart of The OnyxGroup on the retail component. The master architect is DREAM Collaborative, led by past Boston Society for Architecture President Gregory Minott.

O’Brien said parcel P3’s proximity to the Longwood Medical Area and its acclaimed teaching hospitals are a natural fit for major life science industry expansion, which thus far has bypassed Roxbury. The expectation is that life science tenants would partner with local high schools and Roxbury Community College on job training, he said.

Editor’s note: This report has been updated to reflect an updated mix of housing units and the length of deed restrictions.

HYM Pitches Labs, New Home Ownership Model in Roxbury

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min